As large parts of the American West continue to experience drought, waterless car washes have been catching on. A new company in Austin, Tex., called WaterSmart, for example, washes cars with a coconut-based soap, according to an article in The Austin American Statesman.
The soap, made in various formulas under a brand called Freedom, for whichWaterSmart is the local distributor, is biodegradable, the proprietors say.
“The biggest thing we’re up against is the human brain, which says, ‘That doesn’t make sense,’” said Sarah Morgan, who runs WaterSmart along with her husband, according to the newspaper.
Another waterless car wash — a mobile one called EcoSmart Waterless Auto Care — began operations in the Austin area this year. It brings its services to customers, in office complexes, retail centers and parking garages.
Carwash.com also reports that there have been a “plethora of waterless car-wash and wax products to hit shelves in recent months.”
Back east, the Maryland Department of the Environment, citing 2002 figures from the International Car Wash Association, reports that conveyer-belt car washes can require up to 85 gallons of water. The department’s Web site also offers water-saving tips for do-it-yourself car washers.
For all this, though, some traditional carwash operators are not buying the idea of a waterless wash.
“In my opinion waterless car washing is primarily a gimmick to sell the chemical product used in the process,” Randy Cressall, who owns the Valencia Chevron Auto Spa in Valencia, Calif., and is a past president of theWestern Carwash Association, said in an e-mail message.
One problem, according to Mr. Cressall, is that waterless car washes can take twice as much time as regular ones. Also, he said, “I have yet to see a waterless car wash performed properly and safely when it comes to protecting the finish of the car.”
Mr. Cressall added:
There are clearly better options available when considering all the pros and cons. A good professional car wash can perform a wash using not much more water than required to flush a toilet with the proper use of reclaim and re-purification, all the while maintaining proper protection of the automobile finish and in less than half the time and labor required for a waterless car wash.
A consumer can wash a car at home on their lawn or any pervious surface using a bucket and a light finish spray to rinse the car. This method is hands down far safer for the automobile finish.