Drought-friendly Car Care

Water is our most precious resource and in recent years the western states have been faced with a major drought. Many Americans are being asked to conserve the wet stuff and in California and Oregon, you can be fined for using too much water for lawns or even to wash your car. Does that mean you have to live with a dirty car? Not at all. Here are a few tips to keep your precious ride clean even when water is scarce.
Cover It Up
First of all, keep your car in a garage or covered if at all possible as it will reduce how often you'll need to wash the vehicle. By having your car detailed and ceramic coated, you can cover your car and leave it for a long time in pristine condition, but most of us have to use our cars every day and keeping it covered is just not an option.
Washing your car with a garden hose uses at least ten gallons of water, even if you only use the hose at the beginning and end of the wash job. Many commercial car washes recycle water and that helps to keep the number of gallons used down, but there is an even thriftier way to wash your car. If your vehicle has been sitting outside without a cover and is in need of a wash, you can do it all with just one third of a bucket of water.

Low Water Car Washing

You'll need a bucket, a car mitt or soft sponge, and microfiber towels. You will not be soaking the entire car, using a car wash product and then rinsing the entire car as in a traditional wash job. The key is to wash the car one area at a time. Get your car mitt wet and start with the roof. Only cover the roof with the wet mitt and then immediately dry it off. This will get most atmospheric dust and debris off the car.

Next, do the windshield as well as the side and rear windows. You can use a glass cleaner. Again, dry off the glass parts right away. Then wet your car mitt or sponge again and wash the hood of the car. Then come behind with your microfiber towel and dry the hood. The trunk area is next. Wet the area with your mitt and dry it right away.
The last body parts to cover are the front grille, the rear bumper area, and the sides of the vehicle. Do each section one at a time. Get the area wet and then dry it right away. The water in your bucket may be getting dirty by now and that's why you save the wheels for last. Moving to each wheel at a time, wet them with the mitt and then dry them.
When you are finished with the washing, you can use the dirty water left in the bucket to water your plants. I have washed my cars using this method for many years with no problems. The main thing is to use a car mitt and microfiber towels to keep from putting any tiny scratches in the finish.

Instant Detailer

Once your car has been washed and dried as described above, you can use an Instant Detailer to keep it shiny. All of the major car care companies offer such products. It is important to apply these detailer products in the shade as bright sunlight will dry them prematurely and diminish their usefulness. Again, starting with the roof, you spray a small area and then dry it with a microfiber towel. Move from the highest area of the vehicle to the lowest as you use the detailer. Do the roof, then the hood, then the trunk, and save the sides of the vehicle for last.

No Water Washing

If your car is fairly clean but covered in atmospheric dust, you can use a Car Duster to remove the offending particles and keep your car looking great. These dusters are meant for use on dry cars only. You use very light pressure on the surface of the vehicle and dusting off the car only takes a few minutes.

If your car is parked outside, keep a close watch out for bird droppings. They will eat through the protective layers of your car's finish, damaging your clearcoat and paint. You want to remove bird droppings and bug splatter right away, but you don't have to use water to do it. Detailer Sprays are great for removing such nuisances. Only use them in the shade on a cool, dry surface of the vehicle. Use a microfiber towel to dry the area. When washing your towels, do not wash them with other regular cotton towels as this will reduce your microfiber towels' life and effectiveness.
 According to the experts at Edmunds, there are a number of excellent products that offer a choice between a spray detailer and a full wash. Among them is Mequiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax Anywhere spray. Besides cleaning the surface, it also leaves a water-repellent protective coating. The company also makes a Rise-Free Express Wash and Wax that eliminates the need to rinse off your car after washing.
Admire that Shine
Even with all of the drought-friendly car washing ideas listed here, you may still need a conventional car wash from time to time. But saving water is definitely something we can all get behind. When using Instant Detailers or other cleaning products, always take the time to read the label and follow the manufacturer's instructions.