7 eco-friendly cleaning hacks for your car

Spring is well and truly in the air – and there’s nothing that says “new year new me” quite like a good old spring clean. And what better way to prepare for the end of lockdown than by giving your car a once-over? Get ready for those road trips and staycations pencilled in your diary – or present your car beautifully for the renters taking it for a spin.

After exploring environmentally friendly ways of driving your car, we have now put together 7 car cleaning solutions that keep the planet in mind – and are bound to leave your vehicle sparkling!

1. Invest in biodegradable cleaning products

When cleaning your car, avoid soaps that contain chemicals which may harm aquatic life and impact water quality, especially if you are cleaning your car near a drain. Soaps that contain chlorine or phosphate can cause excess algae to grow in local waterways. Luckily, we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to eco-friendly, non-toxic car cleaning products: Eco-Touch, Koh’s Universal Cleaner, Ecomoist and Dry Sparkle are all great options.

2. Make your own soap

Alternatively, you can take it a step further and make a batch of DIY soap using household ingredients. That way you’ll know exactly what is going on your car – and down the drain.

To whip up your own window cleaner, combine 2 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 cup of hot water and 1 tbsp of vinegar in a glass spray bottle and wipe down rear view mirrors and car windows with a cloth. For your dashboard polisher, mix 1 tbsp of white vinegar with 1 cup of warm water, 1 tsp of biodegradable dishwashing liquid (Ecover and Method are available in most shops) and 1 tsp of coconut oil. You can also whisk together a DIY leather seat cleaner in a spray bottle with ¼ cup of vinegar, ¼ cup of olive oil and a couple drops of lemon essential oil. Go easy on the leather and spray the mixture on a cloth rather than straight onto the seats.

3. Go waterless

Rinsing your car with your garden hose may seem like the easiest option but it can be incredibly wasteful: the average garden hose uses around 45 litres of water per minute. Instead, ditch the hose and opt for a 2-bucket system – fill one with your soapy water and the other with clean water, which you will rinse your sponge into. Granted, the whole cleaning process will require a bit of extra elbow grease but a high quality microfiber cloth or sturdy sponge will make your life easier. We love Wearth London’s cloths and these natural sponges from Eco Bravo. Remember to dump your bucket of dirty water in your sink or toilet, rather than the street or grass!

4. Clean your tyres with kitchen products

Vinegar can be your best friend when it comes to cleaning your car – it can be used on all kinds of surfaces and works especially well for lifting oil off your tyres. To avoid a harsh reaction, mix one part water and one part vinegar and pour into a spray bottle – let sit on the tyres for a few minutes, then wipe down. Once they’re nice and clean, you can really bring out the shine by oiling up your tyres using lemon oil, coconut oil or vegetable oil.

5. Use baking soda for carpet stains

No matter how vigorously you wipe down your car, stubborn stains in your carpets will always make things look dirtier than they are. After vacuuming the insides, grab some baking soda from the kitchen and sprinkle it liberally on your floor mats and car carpet, wherever you might notice a stain. Lightly mist the area with some warm water and leave to sit for a minimum of 3 hours. When the time’s up, scrub in the baking soda in circular motion, then give it a rinse with a bit of water.

6. Make your own air freshener

Finish off your big spring clean with a homemade, scented air freshener. These are super easy to put together but can make all the difference every time you step feet in your vehicle.

For a simple air freshening spray, combine ¾ cup water with 2 tbsp vodka, 10 drops orange essential oil and 8 drops peppermint essential oil in a spray bottle. (The vodka helps the water mix with the oils – your car won’t smell like a hangover, don’t worry!)

If you want to really try your hand at some DIY-ing, have a go at the viral felt air freshener method. Grab some felt from your local craft store and cut it into the size and shape you want. Cut a small hole into the top for your string, then distribute 10 drops of your essential oil of choice onto the felt – it will absorb after a few seconds. Alternatively, you can cut out two identical pieces of felt and sew them together, leaving a small hole to fill with your favourite herbs.

7. Book an eco-friendly cleaning service

If all of this just sounds like too much work, don’t worry – mobile car wash providers are increasingly opting for sustainable cleaning methods too. Karshare’s car wash partner Dropless uses less than 2 litres of water per wash as well as eco-friendly, non-hazardous cleaners to get your car sparkling clean. Plus, they are 100% mobile and can service your car across London, Bristol, Bath and Manchester. Karshare owners receive an exclusive 30% discount on their first wash with Dropless.

Learn more about sharing your car with others here.