When it comes to buying a “green” car, most consumers focus on fuel efficiency. The more miles per gallon, the more eco-friendly the car. But what about keeping the car clean? Isn’t green car care a priority, too?
It should be. From washing off the grime that accumulates outside to cleaning up the dashboard inside, how you maintain your vehicle matters to both you and the environment. Why not choose the greenest options? In most cases, they’ll save you money, too.
Green Car Care Top Ten Tips
1) Window Cleaner: There’s enough road rage to go around these days. Don’t make matters worse by using commercial cleaning products whose chemicals leave you cranky or give you a headache. Keep things cheap, simple and safe. Make your own window wash.
Mix 1/2 cup white vinegar with two cups water in a spray bottle.
Add a few drops of pulp-free lemon juice for fragrance.
Apply directly on a lint-free cotton cloth so the cleaner doesn’t spray all over the car.
Once you wipe the windows clean, buff them with a micro-fiber cloth for extra shine.
2) Air Freshener: My personal car pet peeve is those creepy little fragrance bobbles that hang from rear view mirrors and completely stink up the car with some sickeningly sweet odor. They give me an immediate headache that lasts long after the car ride is over. And no wonder: most commercial fragrances contain toxic chemicals like benzene and diethyl phthalate that can become particularly insidious if you’re inhaling them in a space as small and closed as a car interior.
The alternative? If your car stinks, find out why. Usually, it’s from something like food scraps (from fast food or snacks) that have started to rot under the car seat or in the grooves of a floor mats. Whenever you leave the car, take a quick look to ferret out the smelly stuff.
4) Open the windows for a few minutes while you’re driving to let fresh air circulate through the car.
5) Use hot soapy water to wipe down interior doors, handles and vinyl seats.
6) Rinse off floor mats (which will force you to lift them up and out of the car, possibly discovering more stink bombs you’ll need to toss).
7) At a car wash, don’t let them spray the interior with air freshener when they finish vacuuming. If they’ve done their job properly, the car should smell just fine without it.
Seats and cushions: Keeping a car clean shouldn’t require the use of industrial strength chemicals.
8) Use a whisk broom or hand-held vacuum to remove dirt and dust from floor mats and seat cushions.
9) Keep a cloth napkin within reach so you can wipe up spills when they occur. Dust surfaces with a damp cloth once a week to keep grime from building up. (This is very easy for the kids to do!)
10) For spots on the steering wheel or console, sprinkle a little baking soda on a wet towel and gently rub. Wipe with a clean damp cloth.