Eco car care and maintenance

It’s common knowledge that day-to-day driving of anything apart from an electric car isn’t the most sustainable way of getting around, and all cars, electric or not, have a fairly hefty carbon footprint simply from being manufactured. However, for a lot of people, owning a car is a necessity. To help make car ownership as green as possible, we’ve put together our top tips for eco car care and maintenance.

5 minutes to read

There are a few simple ways to make sure owning your car is as planet-friendly as possible. Whether it’s driving in a particular way, taking care to choose the most eco-friendly car cleaning methods, or being mindful of the values of any contractors you employ, here are some steps you can take to make eco car care the norm.

Note: Please test any homemade solutions in an inconspicuous area before using anywhere more visible.

Eco-friendly car washing

Washing your car at home can use more water than a professional car wash if you’re not prepared in advance. But washing at home can be green, too, with a few quick switches and a bit of planning.

The main thing to be mindful of when washing your car at home is water consumption. Your average garden hose uses 170 litres for every 10 minutes it is running. So to keep your water consumption down when washing your car, try the following:

  • Parking your car on the grass so the run-off waters the grass instead of the road or driveway. 
  • Using a bucket instead of a hose.
  • Going waterless by stocking up on waterless car wash solution, waterless alloy cleaner and cloths. A lot of people like to use microfibre cloths for cleaning, but these aren’t the greatest choice in terms of sustainability, so using something you already have, like a cut-up old towel or a cotton t-shirt that’s reached the end of its life, is always the best option. Otherwise, look for products that will break down more quickly, such as 100% natural fibre cloths. The inserts from reusable baby nappies are also super-absorbent, soft and more eco-friendly than microfibre!
  • When shopping for waterless products, make sure the products you buy aren’t harmful to the environment or toxic to wildlife, or you may end up inadvertently doing more harm than good.

 

More eco car washing ideas

If waterless isn’t an option for you, make sure you choose non-toxic cleaning products that are as natural as possible. You could even make your own car wash concentrate by mixing:

  • 30g baking soda
  • 4 litres water
  • 50 ml dishwashing liquid

Store the mixture in a large bottle then add 200 ml to a bucket full of water when washing time comes around. 

The non-DIY car washing option 

If you prefer not to wash your own car, and usually pay someone else to do it for you, it can help to do some research into the eco-credentials of your chosen contractor.  This can be easier in some countries than others. For example, UK automatic car washes are required to direct their wastewater to water treatment facilities to protect the environment. When researching, look out for generic “eco-friendly” claims without data to support them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the products that are used, and what happens to wastewater.

 Eco car cleaning: what about inside the car?

The good news is, there are lots of eco car cleaning options for the inside of your car. 

For example, you can keep your car’s interior looking and smelling clean and fresh with these easy homemade products:

DIY eco-friendly car air freshener

  • Cut some holes into the lid of a mini-sized mason jar and fill with wax melts or leftover pieces of scented candles. Even in winter, the inside of the car will warm up in the sun, causing the wax to melt slightly and make your car smell lovely. 
  • Alternatively, use a similar small jar with holes in the lid, add a teaspoon of baking soda and a few drops of your favourite essential oil.  

 

DIY eco-friendly car interior cleaner 

Add 200 ml warm water, 2 tbsp baby oil, 1 tbsp white vinegar and 1 tsp dishwashing liquid in a spray bottle and use with a clean cloth to get dashboards, centre consoles and door handles/trims sparkling clean.

DIY eco-friendly upholstery cleaner

For a really easy upholstery cleaner and deodoriser, mix 200 ml vinegar, a few drops of dishwashing liquid, 4 litres of hot water together. Dab it onto the stain or spillage, then scrub the area with a soft brush and dab with a damp, clean cloth.

Eco-friendly car maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, there are a few easy steps you can take to keep the environmental impact of your car as low as possible. 
 

The first and easiest thing you can do is to keep up your car’s routine maintenance and servicing. Here are a few ways to keep your car running efficiently, therefore keeping carbon emissions as low as possible:

  • Keep your tyres inflated to the levels shown in the car’s manual.
  • Keep up with regular servicing to make sure brakes, air conditioning and other mechanical functions are working efficiently.
  • Remove excess weight and drag, such as the bike rack when it’s not in use. Reducing aerodynamic drag actually has a bigger effect on fuel economy than reducing weight – so even if something is light, it might be causing you to use more fuel than needed.

 

Eco-friendly driving

The way you drive can also affect the impact your vehicle has on the environment. Here are some ideas to make your driving eco-friendly:

  • Use your cruise control to help keep a steady speed. This reduces your accelerator and brake depressions, which saves fuel.
  • Don’t leave your car idling. Switching your engine off and restarting when required reduces fuel consumption.
  • Treat your in-car air conditioning and heating as you do your home heating – don’t max out the temperature in either direction to blast the air. Instead, set it to a comfortable temperature that can provide a steady flow. 
 
On the subject of air conditioning and heating, another great tip is to park in the shade in hot weather, and in the sun in cold weather. That way you get a natural cooling/heating effect, which will lessen the need for your heating or air conditioning.
 

Eco care care and maintenance – anything else?

Do you have a zero waste or eco-friendly way of driving, maintaining or cleaning your car that isn’t included in this article? Let us know in the comments and we will share your suggestions on Ailuna’s social media channels.

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