The best biodegradable and waterless car cleaning products

Find out which car cleaning products are best to help reduce the environmental impact of washing your car.

Snow foam running down muddy Jeep door panel

by Chris Williams |

Sustainability is the name of the game now and the transport sector is at the heart of this tectonic shift. But it’s not all about switching from fossil fuels to electric power, although it mostly is.

Car cleaning is something that so many of us undertake, whether out of genuine enjoyment or simple necessity. And with all the water, chemical, and microfibre use, the whole exercise isn’t terribly eco.

That being said there are some small changes one can make in order to shrink their car cleaning footprint, and that largely comes in the form of biodegradable and waterless car cleaning products.

Why use biodegradable car cleaning products?

Most car cleaning liquids are manufactured chemicals, which can have an undesirable effects on aquatic life when this toxic wastewater from a car wash runs off into storm drains. Biodegradable car cleaning products don’t linger in the environment and break down.

The other plus side of biodegradable car cleaning products is that because they are usually derived from natural ingredients, they aren’t as harsh on your car’s paintwork, while still cleaning it effectively. This can help protective layers such as car wax last longer.

Why use waterless car cleaning products?

While the products themselves will likely use synthetic ingredients, waterless car cleaning products eliminate the need for buckets and a hose. We’ve tested some and while they are more expensive than the conventional products, they are very effective and great for those who want a time-saving means of car cleaning.

To help quantify your selflessness, Greased Lightning, manufacturer of our top-rated waterless car wash, says you can save up to 2000 litres of water over the course of 10 car washes.

Read CAR's tests on NoH2O and Greased Lightning waterless car cleaning products.

The best eco-friendly car cleaning products

Diamondbrite Max Foam Shampoo 1L

Best biodegradable car shampoo
Diamondbrite Max Foam Shampoo
Amazon

View offer

This concentrated car shampoo is derived from coconut oil. The consequence is that itu2019s soft on surfaces and can be used on paintwork, glass, chrome, rubber and plastic without issue. Yet, there is no compromise on effectiveness.

Because it’s a concentrate that requires one capful (25ml) per wash, this modest one litre bottle will last a long time.

BiOHY Special Upholstery Cleaner 1L

Best vegan upholstery cleaner
BiOHY Special Upholstery Cleaner 1L
Amazon

View offer

BiOHYu2019s upholstery cleaner is a concentrated organic solution that is remarkably effective. It comes from Germany so maybe thatu2019s the secret. Whatever the case, you can use this stuff to properly freshen up your caru2019s mucky interior, or any upholstery in your house that needs it.

Dilute the solution at a ratio of 1:10 with cold water and use an upholstery brush or sponge.

Meguiar's Ultimate Waterless Wheel & Tire 710ml

Best waterless wheel cleaner
Meguiar's Ultimate Waterless Wheel & Tire 710ml
Amazon

View offer

A recognisable name. Many of the mainstream car care brands are getting into waterless washing but this is the only standout product from them thatu2019s worth recommending at this point.

This stuff is very simple to apply – spray onto each wheel and tyre, then wipe clean with a cloth. Downsides? It’s not great value for money (the Achilles heel of many waterless products) and it’s only any good as a light cleaner. For very mucky wheels, you’re best sticking with something like Bilt Hamber’s Alloy Wheel Cleaner.

Greased Lightning Showroom Shine 1L

Best waterless car wash
Greased Lightning Showroom Shine 1L
Amazon

View offer

Our Greased Lightning line-up test proved its Showroom Shine is a very good waterless wash indeed. The large one litre volume lasts longer (up to 10 washes according to Greased Lightning) and itu2019s relatively good value too.

We found the trigger isn’t terribly ergonomic but other than that, there are few downsides to this product. It even comes with two microfibres to use.

Eco Touch Waterless Car Wash 500ml

Waterless and biodegradable car wash
Eco Touch Waterless Car Wash 500ml
Amazon

View offer

A car wash that goes for double points. At £9 for 500ml, it needs to be good. And it is u2013 you're paying for the bonus of waterless and biodegradable in addition to effectiveness.

Like the Greased Lightning Showroom Shine, this can be used on paintwork, metal, glass and plastic. It doesn’t use vegetable oils like the Diamondbrite shampoo, but a concoction of non-toxic and naturally-occurring ingredients.

Totally Essential Eco-Friendly & Biodegradable Screenwash 500ml

Best biodegradable screenwash
Totally Essential Eco-Friendly & Biodegradable Screenwash 500ml
Amazon

View offer

Easily overlooked but such a frequently used car cleaning product. The Totally Essential screenwash is great stuff, consisting of readily biodegradable alcohols and essential oils. It works as well as any screenwash and goes a long way (500ml of concentrate can make up to 20 litres of screenwash).

The bottle is even made from recycled plastic. If you want much better value for money, you can opt for the five litre container. It has a nice, subtle fragrance too.

Greenet Car Wash Sponge 3 Pack

Best eco car cleaning sponge
Greenet Car Wash Sponge
Amazon

View offer

Natural sponges are soft, very absorbent and hardier than synthetic versions. These sponges are made from cellulose (the main substance in plant cells) and are a great alternative to wash your car with.

Each sponge is 19 x 10 x 5cm and will hold its shape. They are completely biodegradable and a great option for any cleaning task.

Addis 100% Recycled Bucket 10 L

Best recycled bucket
Addis 100% Recycled Bucket 10 L
Amazon

View offer

All you need from a bucket for car cleaning is for it to be sturdy. Well, this bucket does that swimmingly and all the while being made from recycled plastic.

Read next:

What you can do to reduce your car's emission output

The best environmentally-friendly car shampoos on the market

Winter car check: what to do and what you need

For verdicts, scoops, news and analysis from the team, delivered direct to your inbox, subscribe to the CAR newsletter.

You can enjoy CAR in its traditional print format, or one of the swelling number of digital editions, optimised for Apple iPhones, Android devices, iPads, tablets and desktop computers.

Just so you know, whilst we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this website, we never allow this to influence product selections - read why you should trust us