Green Your Car Wash

Have you guys seen all the pins on Pinterest with ideas for fun summer activities?  I think washing the car made it onto almost every list.  So what did we do on Friday to take advantage of the beautiful weather?  We washed the car.  The good news is I have some great tips on making your at home car wash a little more eco-friendly.  The really good news is that our car washing experience was a comedy of errors so while you’re picking up green car washing tips I think you’ll also pick up a few laughs.

Step 1 of the green car wash is to completely empty out your car.  If you find things you forgot you had, consider putting them in the donate pile.  Make a separate pile for recyclables like empty water bottles and a third pile for trash.

Next pull out all the carpets, shake them off and sprinkle them with baking soda.  We let it sit while we worked on the rest of the car so the baking soda could do it’s thing and absorb any unwanted odors.

 With the car completely emptied out, it’s time to vacuum. I hooked the shop vac up to an extension car and got to work.  As I was vacuuming I kept noticing a really rotten smell.  It was garbage day in our neighborhood so at first I thought it was all the trash cans out on our street.  Then I wondered if it was something that had spilled in the car.  But the odor was traveling with me as moved.  That’s when I realized it seemed to be coming from the shop vac.  The smell was getting bad so when I finished vacuuming out the car I asked my husband to come check it out. I’m so glad I didn’t look myself!  Apparently, our shop vac is the best mouse trap in the world.  According to my husband, it captured an entire family of mice that got in, but couldn’t get back out.  I won’t go into any more detail (and I’ll spare you a photo) but I’ve never been so grossed out in my life!

Once we recovered from the mouse situation we were ready to start cleaning and DISINFECTING the interior of the car.  We went with our stand by, a spray bottle with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water.  Our seats are leather and this seemed to work really well.  We did a little spot test first to be sure.  If you’re seats are cloth, sprinkling them with baking soda and vacuuming is another good option.  For the dusty dashboard I used a dry microfiber cloth.  It was a great tool for getting in the vents and around all the details of the dash and it was a good job for our 4 year old.

Our next target was the interior carpeting.  It had multiple stains including a recent smoothie spill that hadn’t been cleaned very well.  We mixed up a batch of one part kosher salt, one part water to make a paste to help scrub out the stains.

Here’s a before pic of one of the stains.  We scrubbed it with an old hairbrush after letting the salt paste sit for awhile.

Here’s the after photo.  The stain isn’t completely gone, but it’s much better!

The final step was washing the outside of the car.  We chose pure castille soap to give our van a green clean.  Here are a few other tips for making the washing part a little more eco-friendly.  If your husband and your neighbors can stand it, park the car in the grass (just for the car wash).  The water will filter into the grass, which reduces waste and actually helps filter the water.  Another tip is to prepare two buckets.  One for soapy water and one for rinse water.

Here’s my little guy manning the rinse bucket.  He was in charge of the clean sponges we used to rinse the car and followed after his big brother and I who were using the soapy water and a sponge to give the outside of the van a good wash.  Using the two bucket system saves water because you aren’t running the hose the entire time.  You really only need it to fill the buckets and give the car a quick rinse to start so you aren’t rubbing around chunks of rock or dirt when you wash, which could scratch it.  You can empty and refill the buckets as needed.  One suggestion, supervise the kids if you let them man the soap bucket.  My oldest son poured the soap all by himself and I learned that you really only need a capful.  He used about a cup full and we had a really hard time rinsing all the soap off.  The hot sun was drying the soap onto the car faster than we could rinse it.  It was quite a scene as I worked to chase down the soap streaks with a clean sponge and eventually the hose (I know that defeats the original idea of the two bucket system) before the sun could bake them onto the car.

The final step is vacuuming the rugs that you sprinkled with baking soda at the start of your car wash.  I don’t have a photo because I had to go to the local car wash and pay $3 to use their vacuum.  I wasn’t getting near the shop vac once I knew what had been in it!

So, that’s it.  Our green car wash was a bit stressful with the mice infested shop vac and the soap that wouldn’t rinse.  It didn’t leave as much time for water fights as we had hoped.  But the car is clean and we still have the whole summer ahead of us to test the fun factor on all of the Pinterest activity lists.

Is a car wash on your summer bucket list?  What activity are you most looking forward to over summer break?

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  1. Domonique Canto says:

    When it comes to car wash, i always prefer to do some manual car wash because it is more thorough compared to automated car wash. `’,*`

    Yours trully

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