How -to Trying “Green” Car Care Products
Can You Clean a Car With Environmentally Friendly Products? We Decided to Test Some and See What Happens.
BEING ENVIRONMENTALLY CONSCIOUS and doing some serious vehicle detailing do not necessarily go hand in hand. Getting the perfect shine for various automotive surfaces requires a wide array of chemicals and solvents, and these chemicals often find their way into the soil and gutters.
So, Auto Restorer naturally was interested when it learned that Green Earth Technologies(G.E.T.) was promoting a “green” line of automotive detailing products. I have never considered the environmental impact of the products I’ve used, and was curious myself to see if “green” products could compete with the similar products I had in stock. So we decided to gather up and test several items from their automotive line, including a car wash as well as products for total tire care and glass care.
A Weekend Hobbyist Approach
Before proceeding into the actual product demos, I have to set the stage. I wanted to use these products in the same fashion that a casual detailer might use, so I limited my testing to using a standard garden hose and basic microfiber towels.
I must also disclose that my expectations were not high, especially for the tire care products. For environmental impact, the G.E.T. products claim to be 100 percent green, made from alkanolamines, amino acids, plant and vegetable extracts, non-ionic surfactants, organic alcohol and plant-based fatty acids.
Typically, even non-green tire care products don’t live up to their claims. Many products claim “spray and walk away” for tire care, or “spray, wait 30 seconds, then hose off” for wheel care. I have never found these claims to work for total cleaning. Quite simply, agitation is necessary for these products to work correctly, unless you need quick, decent results.
This product’s instructions tell the user to douse the tire with product, wait 30 seconds; then hose off.
I followed the instructions and got moderate results with the hose. Wiping worked much better, and created a matte, not glossy, finish.
In addition, I was not impressed with the cleaning power on the tire’s white lettering. These letters often will “pop” with whiteness when a stronger cleaner is used.
I also tried this product on an absolutely filthy tire, and again, got moderate results with towel agitation as shown in the photos below.
I then used a gel dressing on half the tire to demonstrate how the glossy and matte finishes compare, and, also, I hosed down the tire to show how the gel finish is more resistant to water. Lots of dressings will spin off and leave residue on the sides of your vehicle or the undercarriage. Gel dressings of high quality usually will last much longer and won’t have these problems.
Overall, I’d say this is an OK product if you are willing to go with a less glossy finish and don’t have white lettering that requires heavy cleaning. I’ll also go so far as to say the G.E.T. tire care product is probably the best choice you can get for a spray-on option when all factors are considered (price, results and environmental impact). However, a quality gel dressing is going to give you optimal results. And the best thing about a gel dressing is that there is no over spray on your driveway that will stain the concrete. While I’m sure a gel dressing isn’t the best for the environment, at least the ability to control the product helps to alleviate environmental exposure.
Working With a Wheel Cleaner
Next on our list was the G.E.T. “Brake Dust Removing Wheel Cleaner,” which also garnered moderate results. This product instructed the user to spray, wait 30 seconds, then wipe off for a natural clean. I followed the directions, but again got much better results when I used a brush and wiped down every nook and cranny of the wheel. This approach, however, is no different than what I’ve found with other wheel cleaners I’ve encountered.
Anyone who has used a wheel cleaner can attest to the strong chemical smell. In addition, tire spray and foam users usually complain about the stains on their driveway from the overspray. Tire care products are among the most chemically harsh, and can get into your lawn and water most quickly because they are closest to the ground and require heavy rinsing. These G.E.T. products are good options and could replace all middle-tier options, but I won’t be giving up my P21S Auto Wash or gel dressings for these products.
Summarily, the tire and wheel products perform similar to other spray and walk away products at a similar price point (about $7), with an environmental advantage. However, P21S Total Auto Wash is the best option for total tire and wheel care—soak the entire tire and wheel, agitate,then hose down and buff for an incredible clean (P21S.com).
Brake Dust Repellant Gets Results
G.E.T. does have another wheel care product, a brake dust repellent. These repellents are becoming increasingly popular, but often don’t work as well as their claims would indicate.
I’ve used repellents before, and I’m happy to report that G.E.T.’s “Brake Dust Shield” has the easiest application and works just as well as the others. Instead of spraying on and wiping, this is a simple spray on and walk away application.
After a week of daily driving, the wheels were only slightly dusted, which is an improvement over typical buildup. This product claims, like other repellents, to work for up to 30 days. While this won’t totally prevent brake dust buildup,
it definitely delays that buildup and makes it easier to remove in the future. Again, the repellents I’ve used are incredibly strong and get right into the driveway, lawn and soil, but this repellent is easy, effective, environmentally safe, and the price is right (about $6). This repellent will indeed be the brake dust repellent of choice in my detailing shop.
The Car Wash and Glass Cleaner
Now, on to the other two products on our list—the G.E.T. car wash and glass cleaner. After using the tire products, I was lukewarm on how effective these would be, considering how much I loved my current wash and glass cleaner combo—Sonus Gloss Shampoo and Invisible Glass.
However, I was rather stunned at the results I got with these G.E.T. products.
The G.E.T. “Heavy Duty Hydrophobic Car Wash” claims to be a highly concentrated cleaner and degreaser which causes water to “bead up” and roll off, leaving no spots. The product claims to penetrate deep into dirt and oils, and then break them into billions of tiny particles that constantly repel each other, making it difficult to stick back together and form spots on your automobile’s surface. The wash even claims to remove dirt from your wash mitt, helping it to last longer.
These claims, obviously, were rather strong. To test them, I mixed one ounce of wash with one gallon of water, and used a basic wash mitt. The wash generated a good amount of suds—it didn’t overflow the bucket or dissipate too quickly. The application was very similar to the Sonus Auto Wash, and overall, the wash worked great. Despite a rather neglected surface, I got a quality clean and a nice gloss with one application of the wash. I let it drip dry and was shocked to see that it did, indeed, dry almost totally spot-free.
Considering that auto wash is the product most likely to find its way into the soil and water, I will definitely be adding this wash to my stable of detailing products on a permanent basis.
The results were simply outstanding, and after a week, the G.E.T. wash was still holding up nicely. At 16 ounces of product for almost $7 shipped, the price point is definitely accessible to give this a shot yourself.
The G.E.T. “G-Glass Organic Glass Cleaner” also shocked me.
I tried it on the rear window of an SUV—often a collection point for runoff, dirt and contaminants. I misted the window and used a glass cleaning microfiber towel to wipe off, then turned over for a clean, final wipe. No streaks, totally clean, and no strong smells or odors.
Again, glass products tend to be strong, and over spray is often an issue. What I really like is that this product’s over spray on paint wipes off easily without any type of spotting or staining. The price point is accessible (about $6), and for basic cleaning, this product does the job extraordinarily well.
In researching the prices for these products, I noticed that users on Amazon were also impressed with the results. Their comparisons to typical, department store products reinforced my assessment that the tire care products stack up well against regular products, but can’t compete with professional-level products. The car wash and glass cleaner, however, exceeded the pro products I currently use with a similar price point.
I can easily recommend trying the G.E.T. products yourself. And when you consider the runoff into the soil and water that can be generated by car detailing, it’s refreshing to see that the market is offering “green” options that actually get the job done.
Green Earth Technologies, Inc.
3 Stamford Landing, Suite 200, Stamford, CT 06902