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Make Your Own Car Cleaning Products

We’ve all heard about the drive towards more environmentally friendly motoring. Hybrid vehicles seem to be coming onto the market left, right and centre, and (as I’ve mentioned in earlier posts), fuel economy figures are getting just as much attention as power and torque figures in car reviews  these days.

But what about the other aspects of car ownership? Going green goes way beyond buying a nice shiny new Nissan Leaf  or some other hybrid or electric vehicle. It goes beyond using ethanol blends (which come from a sustainable and renewable source) or biodiesel (ditto) to power your vehicle. It also applies when it comes to keeping that new vehicle shiny.

A lot of commercial car cleaning products contain a lot of fairly ferocious chemicals. These have a number of environmental problems associated with them. First up, there’s making them. If it’s made here in Australia, it probably has to comply with all sorts of regulations regarding emissions, so that’s OK, but if it gets made in some third-world country, the factory could be a bit dodgy for the environment. Next comes using the stuff. Some car cleaning products can be pretty rough on your skin or on your lungs. And last of all comes disposal – all that stuff goes into the water system and can take quite some time breaking down.

car-washSo making your own out of natural cleaning bits and pieces can be a good option. They can save you a couple of cents, into the bargain. A couple of recipes are given below:

Car body wash

  • 1 cup soap gel (make by dissolving old bits of soap in boiling water and letting it cool – it makes a goopy sort of sludge)
  • ½ cup baking soda or washing soda
  • bucket of warm water

Dissolve the soap gel and the washing/baking soda in the water. Apply to the car body with a soft brush. Rinse off with plain water. This is a mild wash that gets the grub off but doesn’t hurt the wax or the paint – or your hands.

Window and glass cleaner

  • 1 cup ordinary white vinegar
  • 1 cup of plain water (preferably unchlorinated)

Shake together and spray onto the glass with a soft cloth (e.g. an old towel or a tatty old T-shirt). Buff off with another soft cloth.

Tar remover

  • Cooking oil (any sort)

Tar is oil-based, and any good oil will soften it enough for you to be able to pick and peel it off the paintwork very, very gently, or scrub it off with an old toothbrush. If the tar is very old or stubborn, a little kerosene should do the trick, with the emphasis on “little” or you’ll wreak havoc with the paint.

Homemade wax (for enthusiasts only)

  • 2 cups carnauba wax (found in some auto and hardware stores – look carefully or ask one of the sales staff)
  • 2 cups beeswax
  • ½ cup vegetable oil (olive, linseed, etc.)

Melt the waxes in the oil in a double boiler. While it’s still hot, pour it into a suitable tin or container ready for use. Then use as normal. It’s not tinted, but it will do. Carnuba wax is derived from a Brazilian palm tree and is the basis of a lot of commercial car waxes – make that most of them.

You could also give a microfibre cloth a go (e.g. an Enjo cloth). These are great if you are on water restrictions, as you only need enough water to get the cloth damp. The wee fibres get into those microscopic cracks in the paintwork (yep, they’re there) and grab the dirt. Because you don’t use any product, there’s no residue left behind, so the paintwork doesn’t go streaky.

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