THE following article will be appearing in the next volume of the Sustainable Water Resource Handbook:

Enterprise development can be used to enable water conservation and as a means to achieving target 6.4 under Sustainable Development Goal #6, which is: By 2030, substantially increase water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity.

Conventional car washing consumes approximately 250 litres per car wash. Invariably this is potable water that can be put to better use. The world is all too aware that we have to change the way we do things. Car washing is no exception. The scarcity of water is not going to go away and not only is it immoral to abuse our most precious resource, but it is going to become very expensive to consume such large quantities of water in such an unnecessary way when there are other options available.

There are some 1,2 billion vehicles in the world. A survey conducted in South Africa by BP and reported in On Route Magazine (September 2014) revealed that, on average, 80 % of car owners wash their cars at least once per week. Let’s assume for the purposes hereof that this statistic applies throughout the World. We would require water for 3,84 billion car washes per month. At a consumption rate of 250 litres per wash, the world would consume 960 billion litres of water per month to wash vehicles. Most agree that this is not only unsustainable, but seems unethical in the face of tremendous water scarcity in many parts of the world.

To begin to solve this conundrum while also working to meet the need of the Sustainable Development Goal target 6.4, Eco Wash South Africa has designed, developed and now manufactures the Eco Wash Mobile Dispensing Unit (MDU).


The MDU was designed and developed in conjunction with a major South African University. The third generation MK3 Model is the most advanced waterless car wash equipment available in the world today. It is currently being used in some 800 locations around the country and has been exported to six other African countries. Eco Wash South Africa is in discussion with many other international companies to establish exclusive distributorships for each region.

The MDU is a self-contained car washing equipment that is able to wash and wax a vehicle, clean and shine the tyres and rims, clean and shine the windows while only consuming about 2 litres of water in the entire wash process! Most significantly of all, not a drop of water falls on the floor during the wash process. In other words, the wash bay can be taken to the car.

Not only does this wash method save vast amounts of water, but also all products used in the washing process are biodegradable (according to the highest European standard). Eco Wash supplies the equipment (MDU) as well as the products and consumables. These products and consumables include Wash and Wax, Mag Wheel Cleaner/Rim Cleaner, Heavy Duty Cleaner and Tyre Shine, Micro Fibre Cloths, Spray bottles, Sponges and Chamois Leather cloths for window cleaning.


The MDU has fresh water storage tanks, a high-pressure vessel, a dirty water storage tank, pump and motor and a helli-coil hose to apply the product across the entire surface of the vehicle. The concentrate product is poured into a storage chamber, water is added fordilution and the MDU is connected to a conventional power source for 35 seconds. The pump and motor mix the product and water and transfer the wash and wax solution into the pressure vessel. The MDU is disconnected from the power source and is able to operate for 4 to 5 days, independent from any power source. This is achieved by transferring the product into a pressure vessel where it remains under pressure and so is able to spray sufficient product to wash about 40 to 50 vehicles.

One of the attractions of the Eco Wash MDU is that it has a self-contained wash hand basin to wash the micro-fibre cloths during the wash process. Water is pumped using the foot pump from the fresh water chamber to the basin. An essential ingredient of effective and efficient car washing is to work with clean cloths. The Eco Wash MDU facilitates this. Most of the 2 litres of water used in the washing process is used to wash the cloths. Four different colour cloths are used in the wash process. A green cloth is for washing the vehicle, an orange cloth is used to polish it, a blue cloth is used for rims and a pink cloth is used to shine and buff the windows after they have been cleaned using the Chamois. The two most significant aspects to washing a car is to have clean cloths and to ensure that the washer is not using the same micro-fibre cloth to clean the rims and,for example, shine the windows.

In some parts of the world car washers are known to attempt to execute a waterless car wash using only a spray bottle type application. Problems associated with this practice are several: users have no means of cleaning cloths; a spray bottle cannot give a uniform spray of product across the vehicle; and the same (dirty) cloth is used to wash the car, clean the rims, polish the car and clean the windows. This is impossible to achieve,even if a 10-litre bucket of clean water was supplied. Every time the cloth is cleaned, the water would be contaminated and would have to be replaced. Access to clean water is essential to perfect the ultimate waterless car wash.

Eco Wash uses a biodegradable cleansing formula (that contains a mix of ingredients including wetting, cleaning agents and wax) that is sprayed onto the vehicle in a light mist form. Dirt is lifted hydrostatically and encapsulated into the wax upon contact.

The encapsulated dirt is then removed using a damp microfibre cloth. Stubborn marks are removed with a heavy duty cleaner.

A thin wax layer remains, which is buffed with a secondary, dry microfibre cloth to shine the vehicle.

The Eco Wash system effectively combines both a high quality, wash and wax service-in-one, and during the wash process not a drop of water falls on the floor.

The current users of Eco Wash in South Africa include Mercedes Benz, BMW, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lazarus Motor Company, Bidvest McCarthy, Anglo American, De Beers, Harmony, the Gauteng Provincial Government, golf courses, office parks, malls, Growthpoint Properities, Novartis, Norton Rose Attorneys, Engen, Caltex, Shell, Total and many others. The obvious benefits for these corporates are water savings, convenience of having a car washed whilst at work, no mess or water run-off and not having to move cars to conventional wash bays.