Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Green car maintenance

The more we hear about the negative impact our lifestyles are having on the environment, the more driven we are becoming to modify our habits in order to make decisions that are more ecologically sound. One way we seek to do this is by switching to products that have a reputation for being environmentally friendly. In some instances, this can be a costly switch, but buyer beware: don't assume that getting swept away by the “greenwashing” trend that currently characterizes today's advertisements is the only way to do your part. In fact, some of the most environmentally friendly solutions can also be the most frugal if you take the time to learn about them. This is certainly the case when it comes to cleaning your car, as we'll examine. To begin with, set up your arsenal. Your basic solutions will include:
  • vinegar – once you discover how effective vinegar is, you'll use it for just about everything. It's cheap, and completely ecologically sound.
  • baking soda – when a little bit of abrasion is needed, you'll be hard pressed to find a less expensive or greener choice than baking soda.
  • olive oil – when was the last time you heard warnings about the effects of olive oil on your health, or on the environment?
  • lemon juice – if it's good enough to put in your body then it's a treat for your car.
  • liquid castille soap – this is made from olive oil, and is one of the gentlest soaps out there.
  • beeswax – not crucial, but it doesn't get much more natural than that when it comes to polishing your car.
And your basic tools will include:
  • Newspapers – recyclable, biodegradable, and often, free.
  • bucket – reusable, low cost.
  • scrub brush – reusable, low cost.
  • spray bottle – reusable, low cost.
  • Sponges – reusable, often biodegradable, and low-cost.
  • Rags – reusable, biodegradable (depending on the material), and low-cost.
Once you've gathered your materials, use this table to help you determine how to make the most of your low-cost, low-impact materials:

Car part
Use a mild solution of castille soap and water to remove dirt. Use ¼ cup melted beeswax mixed with ½ cup olive oil to polish it.
Dry newspapers work best if there isn't heavy soiling. Otherwise, precede the newspaper step by spraying undiluted vinegar on the windows, and letting it sit for 5-10 minutes.
Using a 1:1 ratio of water to vinegar, use a rag dipped in this solution to wipe chrome. To apply the solution to hard to reach areas, use a spray bottle.
Add enough water to baking soda to form a thick paste, and apply it to your tires. Use a scrub brush to move it around, then rinse with straight water (like brushing your teeth).
Light stains can be removed by applying a paste made of vinegar and baking soda. Let the paste dry, then vacuum it.
Plastic and vinyl surfaces can be cleaned/protected using a 1:2 ratio of lemon juice to olive oil. Be sure to wipe the excess with a spare rag.

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