“Many people do not believe that a car can be properly cleaned without using water. I keep my car dirty to show people who are reluctant about the products being applied to their cars for the first time,” says Muhammad Anas.
“I give demonstrations to convince car owners that it’s possible to clean their car without using water. I think this business is also about changing mindsets,” said Anas who owns a waterless car wash in Defence Housing Authority.
Fayyaz used to get his car serviced once a week. “On Sundays, I would go to a car wash and ensure that they left no water in the foot spaces, engine or the base.”
Fayyaz recently found Anas’s waterless car wash. After using the car wash, he said, “It is amazing that a car can be this clean without using a single drop of water.” He said he realised that using water for cleaning the car damages the paint and rusts the metal in the long run.
Anas uses a water-based product and microfibre towels to clean the metal and plastic surfaces. A shiner is used for tyres. “It saves time, conserves water and costs less,” he said. Anas has an authorised dealership from Waless, a waterless car wash business, in Dubai.
Anas said cleaning the car this way lowered the risk of rusting.
“A week after the ‘wash’, I just need to wipe with a cloth and it is shiny again,” said Gulshan-i-Ravi resident Salman who first used the facility two weeks ago. “A regular car wash costs Rs400 with polish,” he said. “This system is far more effective and lasts for over two weeks.
Fayyaz said the cleaning takes around 30 minutes. “If I am getting the floor cleaned, it takes another 30 minutes.”
Anas said he imports the detergent and polish. “The products are quite popular in the Gulf where water is scarce.” It is big in Dubai, Qatar and Kuwait and has recently been introduced in Saudi Arabia, he said. Anas has five men working for him. He also provides services at homes.
Anas said grit and sand sticking to the car floor is scabbed off with a cloth and then Freedom Original, a water-based product with surfactants, wax and a lubricating agent applied for additional cleaning. Eco tyre shine is used for tyres, he added. “A separate product, which removes stains, is used for the car’s interior.”
Anas says a survey he conducted before starting the business had shown that power cuts and water shortage were the biggest problem faced by his rivals.
So far, he says, he has cleaned 35 cars. Most of his clients are from Defence, Model Town and Garden Town.
“I will soon start selling the products. Most people are keen on buying the products so they or their drivers can clean their cars.
Tauqueer Qureshi, a former laboratory officer at the Environment Protection Department, said the lubricant agents, silicon emulsifier, surfactants and light abrasives do not have any pronounced environmental hazards.
“Surfactants may impact the life of micronutrients in fresh water but the impact is probably negligible,” he said.
Conserving Resources: ‘A car uses at least 150 to 200 litres water per wash’
Sustainable Development Policy Institute Water and Energy Adviser Arshad Abbas, said waterless car wash was a good idea particularly since waste water was not being recycled.
“It probably doesn’t clean the car as much as using water does. But it will serve Pakistan well as piped water is being used for washing cars.”
“It will not only conserve water, but will also save electricity,” he added.
Muhamamad Anas says he found a car uses at least 150 to 200 litres water per wash. Shawash, a local car wash owner, agrees with Anas’s estimate.
A Sustainable Development Policy Institute research report estimates that 60 gallons of water are used per car wash.
According to a 2008 Japanese International Cooperation Agency report, there are 350,000 cars in the city. Assuming an average of a car wash every week the water use comes to 7.5 million litres per day. At 2.5 litres per day, this represents drinking water needs of three million people, about a third of Lahore’s population.
According to a 2011 report of the Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCSWIR), about 44 per cent Pakistanis (79.2 million people) lack access to clean drinking water.
A Wasa official said its tubewells pump water from an average depth of 150 metres.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th, 2012.