When Washing Your Car, Think Clean and Green

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If you truly love your vehicle, there is no better way to care for it than by washing it on a regular basis, especially now that the weather is turning warmer here in Western Pennsylvania. But before you pull out the buckets, sponges, soaps and sprayers the folks at Ford have a few tips for making your vehicle clean and your car wash green.

When washing your car at home, take the chore off the driveway and on to your lawn. Not only will you get your car clean, but you will water the grass as well. Americans also waste gallons of water by leaving their hoses on during car washes. Before you make your vehicle squeaky clean, buy a water-saving hose nozzle to shut off the flow of water when you aren’t spraying your car.

Give your car a quick rinse with the hose, then fill a bucket with water and suds. Use the bucket with soapy water to wash the car, allowing you to save gallons of water during the cleaning process. Use your hose to rinse the car clean.

Before you get out the paper towels to dry your car, consider using a clean rag or a microfiber towel. Either will get the job done better and can be used repeatedly throughout the summer.

While you can save money washing your own car at home, the most environmentally-friendly way to get your vehicle clean may be using a car wash. The International Car Wash Association reports that automatic car washes use less than half the water of even the most careful home car washer. According to one report, washing a car at home typically uses between 80 and 140 gallons of water, while a commercial car wash averages less than 45 gallons per car.

Once your car has been given a once over, it’s time for a little tender loving care. Start by locating all the dings, and scratches that have happened to your vehicle over the winter. As these become exposed with your initial wash, make sure you take care of these right way, either with a rubbing compound or at a professional shop. Dirt and grime, rubbed in while washing, will act like sandpaper, only opening the wound on your vehicle’s coat, getting deeper over time.

Now is also an excellent time to inspect and replace your wiper blades, which should be done every 6,000 miles or so. In addition to the snow on Western Pennsylvania’s roads, wiper blades are also exposed to salt, road grime and intense temperature fluctuations that can cause cracking or tearing. Warmer weather can also cause the blades to warp, which may prevent the wiper from doing its job.

Once you’re through with the wash, don’t forget to wax as well. In addition to bringing out the luster of your vehicle’s finish, a good wax also protects your vehicle’s coat from the elements as well as sunlight and the occasional bug carcass or bird dropping.

When possible, park your car in a garage or covered area. A vehicle that is constantly exposed to sunlight will deteriorate much quicker, and will need more detailing and maintenance.

Once you’re through, remember to make regular inspections of your vehicle’s coat, making note of any new scratches or dings.

Through the summer, you should wash your vehicle at least once a month, or more, especially if you drive in harsh conditions. However you choose to clean your car, you should do it in the most environmentally friendly way possible.

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