The importance of car shampoo in car detailing cannot be overstated. However, if you care for environmentally-friendly practices, you may have some concerns about its effect on your garden and lawn flora. Does car shampoo really kill plant life? Should you wash your car on your lawn?
In general, regular car shampoo does not have chemical properties that are strong enough to kill grass. But strong acidic car shampoo formulas may have some destructive effect on your lawn. Cleaners that contain chlorine and phosphate should also be avoided as they have bad environmental effects.
There are laws that prohibit washing on asphalt or concrete surfaces in certain areas to prevent wastewater from running into drainage channels in certain areas. Washing your car on the lawn seems like the next best practice. Let’s take a more in-depth look into the effect of car shampoo on the environment.
Does Car Shampoo Kill Grass?
Generally, car shampoo is not harmful to plant life. Regular car shampoo formulation is relatively gentle and does not contain chemicals strong enough to kill grass. With repeated washing on a spot, the cumulative effect of the chemical ingredients of car shampoo may negatively affect the grass.
Quite interestingly, there are car shampoos that are entirely biodegradable. Generally, biodegradable car shampoos are plant-based, non-toxic car shampoos that have no negative impact on the environment. They are the safest products to wash with if you care about environmental friendliness.
In certain locations, you are only allowed to wash your car with water. The law forbids washing vehicles at home to prevent car wash soaps from running into drains or sewers because of the negative environmental impact. A reasonable way to avoid car shampoo running into drainage channels is to wash your car on the lawn.
More importantly, grass acts as a natural filter that removes contaminants from wastewater and prevents them from penetrating into the waterways. Moreover, your lawn grass gets a good soaking that keeps it green and wet when you wash your car on it.
For environmental considerations, it is far better to wash a car on a lawn than to wash it on a paved driveway where the water can run into the street or central drainage systems. Washing on grass, however, requires a careful consideration of the cleaning products you. You don’t want to use products with strong chemicals that can harm your grass.
How Bad Are Car Washes for the Environment?
Car washes are not very bad for the environment if environmentally-friendly practices are employed. Most car cleaning products are eco-friendly and not bad for the environment. Biodegradable cleaning products are the safest because they disintegrate and get absorbed into the environment.
However, grease, oils, and many other contaminants that are washed off automobile surfaces might be environmentally harmful.
The effect of car washes on the environment, to a large extent, is dependent on the cleaning products used and the drainage method. Pursuant to environmental conservation practices, cleaning products that contain chlorine and phosphate should be avoided. Phosphorus encourages algae growth.
Washing a car at a car wash is the best option if you care about the environment. In most locations, there are rules that guide the operation of car washes to contain the release of wastewater that contains harmful chemicals.
In most locations, car washes release wastewater into a sanitary sewer from where the water can be collected for treatment to remove chemicals that could impact the environment negatively.
The only downside to car washes is that Automatic car washes have a high risk of scratching the paint. Nonetheless, automatic car washes are convenient to use. They may be the only option for car washing in locations where environmental protection agency laws prohibit washing cars with car shampoo and other products.
Environmentally-Friendly Car Wash Practice
There are some environmentally conscious steps you can take in washing your car that will effectively get rid of dirt and debris and keep the environment safe as well.
Wash On The Grass
When you have to wash your car at home, the best spot to do that is not on your driveway or on asphalt or concrete surfaces. Your grass lawn or any other similarly porous surface is the best spot to wash.
When car concrete/asphalt driveways or any other paved surface, the wastewater travels into drainage channels. The chemicals, oils, and other contaminants contribute to the pollution of waterways.
Car shampoo and other regular cleaning products do not harm plant life, and as such, washing cars on grass lawns is reasonably safe. Moreover, the grass filters contaminants from the water and keeps them from getting into the waterways.
Use Biodegradable Car Shampoo
Several companies produce biodegradable car cleaning products that can clean as effectively as the typical chemical-based cleaners. The highlight of these biodegradable cleaners is that they can disintegrate through the actions of fungi and bacteria and then get absorbed into the natural environment.
Another thing to take note of is cleaning products that contain chlorine and phosphates. Phosphates help the growth of algae, which in turn causes oxygen and nitrate depletion. These chemicals considerably influence plant life, animal life, marine life, and the whole natural ecosystem.
Go To The Car Wash
This is another way to promote eco-friendly car cleaning practices. You even may have the ability, resources, and time to carry out personal wash at home. Still, professional car washes have more things in place to ensure eco-friendly practices and protect the environment.
It can be very hard to prevent wastewater from running into drainage systems and waterways when you wash at home. Furthermore, wastewater from professional car washes is usually channeled into sanitary sewers where it is treated to remove the harsh chemicals harmful to the environment.
Although a car wash can be safer for the environment and more convenient to use, it has its own disadvantages. An automatic car wash has a high likelihood of compromising wax and paint protection, and they cost more than good old handwashing.
Check out some other advantages and disadvantages of automatic car washes in my in-depth article on the pros and cons of automatic car washes.
The eco-friendly practice goes beyond not introducing harmful agents into the environment to encompass the conservation of natural resources like water. To conserve water, some car washes recycle and reuse. Moreover, car washes use less water to wash a car than an individual is likely to use when washing at home.
Furthermore, there is unique washing equipment that can help to conserve water. An automatic shutoff nozzle is an example of such equipment. An automatic nozzle can help to save as much as 70 gallons per wash because the water does not flow continuously as you wash your car.
When you have to wash your vehicle at home, using the two bucket method is a great way to conserve water. As the name implies, the method involves using two separate buckets, with one of them holding water and the other holding a car shampoo. Besides, the two bucket method is one of the safest for your paint and wax layer.
Check out my well-researched article on the two bucket method vs foam gun, to read more about how to use the two bucket method.