Biodegradable car wash soap

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Written By Marc Helman

Tackling new challenges with a passion for the environment.

The car wash industry is a $20 billion business in the United States alone. And while most of us are aware that we should be washing our cars at least once every two weeks, many people don’t realize how much water and energy they use when doing so. In fact, according to the EPA, it takes about 1 gallon of water to clean your average vehicle – which means you could save up to 2,000 gallons (7,600 liters) by simply using a hand or automatic car washer instead of a full-service facility!

But what if there were ways to make sure all those gallons went down the drain without harming the environment? Well, fortunately for consumers, there are now more than 100 different types of environmentally friendly car wash detergents on the market today. But with such a wide variety of options available, choosing one can seem like a daunting task. So before you start shopping around, here are some things to consider:

What Is Biodegradable Detergent?

Biodegradable detergents have been used in home cleaning since the early 1900s. They work just as well as traditional non-degradable detergents, but unlike their petroleum based counterparts, these cleaners break down naturally into harmless substances within days after being washed off the surface. This makes them safe for both humans and animals alike.

Biodegradable detergens also tend to cost less than conventional alternatives because manufacturers do not need to add expensive stabilizers to keep the product from breaking apart during storage. As a result, biodegradables often contain lower concentrations of surfactants and other chemicals compared to regular detergents.

How Do You Know Which One To Use?

While there are several factors to take into consideration when selecting a biodegradable carwash detergent, including price, performance, safety, environmental impact, and sustainability, the main thing to look for is whether or not the manufacturer has gone through any third party testing to ensure its effectiveness. If this information isn’t readily available, then you may want to steer clear of the product until further research confirms its quality.

Which Type Should I Choose?

There are three basic categories of biodegradable detergent.You can choose from:

  • organic
  • natural
  • synthetic

Organic detergents are made primarily from plant oils, whereas natural ones come from animal fats. Synthetic detergents are created from petrochemicals. Each type offers advantages over the others, although each comes with its own set of drawbacks. For example, organic detergents typically offer better overall cleaning results, but they can smell bad and leave behind residue.

Natural detergents usually perform better than organics, but they can cause skin irritation and damage clothing.

Finally, synthetics are generally considered safer than either category, but they can still stain fabrics and leave unpleasant odors.

So What Are The Best Types Of Car Wash Detergent?

The following list includes five popular brands that we think will help you get started on your search for the perfect green car wash solution.

Eco Friendly – Made by Ecotec Industries Inc.,

EcoFriendly uses only renewable resources, which means it does not harm the environment. It contains no harsh ingredients, so it won’t dry out your paint job or strip away waxes. Plus, it doesn’t use harmful solvents such as trichloroethylene, perchloroethylene, methyl ethyl ketone, or benzene.

Green Works

A favorite among many environmentally conscious consumers, GreenWorks is one of the most widely recognized names in sustainable detergents. Its line of all-purpose liquid laundry detergents are free of phosphates, chlorine bleach, synthetic fragrances, artificial dyes, and petroleum derivatives. They’re also formulated without sodium lauryl sulfate, which strips color from clothes and leaves stains behind.


Another well known brand, Biokleen was founded in 1990 and now boasts more than 1 million customers worldwide. Their products include hand dishwashing liquids, fabric softeners, shampoos, conditioners, body lotions, deodorant sprays, and even baby wipes. All their formulas contain at least 50% recycled content, making them some of the most eco friendly options around.


This German company makes both household cleaners and personal care items like shampoo, shower gel, toothpaste, and mouthwashes. While their products aren’t specifically designed for washing cars, they do have a few eco-friendly car wash solutions. These include a non-detergent cleaner called “Eco Clean,” which helps remove dirt and grime; a degreaser called “Green Shine”; and a spray bottle called “Carwash.”


Founded in 1884, this American manufacturer has been producing high-quality cleaning supplies since then. Today, Method continues to produce safe, effective, and affordable products. One of their top sellers is their Liquid Dish Soap, which cleans dishes effectively while being gentle enough to be used every day.

How To Use Them In Your Home And On Your Vehicle

To clean your home with any of these products, simply follow the instructions included with each product. For example, if you want to make sure everything gets cleaned properly, add about half a cup of water to the container before adding the rest of the contents. Then mix thoroughly until there are no lumps left. You may need to shake the mixture first if it seems too thick. Once mixed, pour into containers, label, and store where it can stay fresh for up to six months. If you don’t plan on using it right away, keep it refrigerated.

For your car, just apply a small amount of the diluted formula directly onto the surface you wish to clean. Make sure to work quickly because once applied, the foam should start breaking down within 30 minutes. After that time period, rinse off the solution with warm water and let dry completely. It will take several days for the finish coat to fully set, so allow plenty of drying time after application.

What Are The Pros & Cons Of Using Eco Friendly Car Wash Products?


  • No Harmful Chemicals


  • Not As Effective At Washing Cars
  • Can Be Expensive
  • May Take Several Days To Dry Completely

Which Is Better? Biodegradable or Non-degradable Car Wash?

If you prefer not having chemicals leach into your environment, go with biodegradable detergents. However, many people feel that biodegradables leave residue behind when washed. That said, we recommend trying one of these two brands as a test run.

DYI environmentally friendly car wash soap recipe

How do you make a biodegradable carwash soap at home? check out our step by step guide here!


  • 2 cups baking soda
  • 3/4 cup cornstarch
  • water
  • optional: essential oils such as lavender oil, lemon grass oil, etc.


  1. Mix all ingredients together well. Store in airtight jars.
  2. Use 1 tablespoon per gallon of hot tap water. Mix well. Let sit 5 min., stir again. Pour through strainer over driveway.
  3. Rinse with cold water. Repeat process 2 more times. Allow to dry overnight.


Add essential oils during mixing stage to scent your homemade soap.

You can also use this recipe to create other types of DIY cleaners like laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, hand sanitizer, bathroom scrubbing paste, etc.