Feb 21

Got Salt?

By: Rebecca Schuman, GSWA Intern @ Drew University

It’s winter, and with every new wave of ice and snow comes another white-out condition: a gritty buildup of road salt trapped to the surface of your car. Apart from the aesthetic damage road salt may cause to vehicles (chipped paint is no joke), the salt is also known to prompt more serious driving troubles. The corrosive qualities of road salt are ideal for melting ice on the pavement but may lead to rapid rusting or rotting of sensitive parts underneath the car.

So, while it’s important  to continuously clear road salt off of vehicles during these frigid months, is there an environmentally friendly way to do it? Here are some tips for keeping your car clean and the environment cleaner:

1. When washing your car at home, choose a soap that is non-toxic and free of phosphates, fragrances, chlorine, or any other dangerous chemicals. In fact, don’t be afraid to make your own wash! Mixing equal parts of distilled vinegar with equal parts water is not only an ideal window cleaner, but also works on the surface of your car. For a post-wash shine, consider lemon juice and olive oil as an organic wax.

2. Leave the hose behind. Spraying around the whole car with a hose uses an immense amount of water. Consider using a spray bottle and sponge to conserve.

3. Wash on the grass. This leads to less runoff overall as the soapy debris is filtered through the ground instead of filling the nearest storm drain.

4. Don’t fear the carwash! Many car washes actually recycle and reuse their water. Car washes that don’t reuse are required by law to send their waste into sewer systems for cleaning, so that nearby water sources aren’t polluted. Many car washes use environmentally-conscious products, as well, so do some research to find one that suits you.

Road salt may be a winter monster but can easily be taken care of with a simple scrub. This season look out for your car and the planet in one wash!