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Is dry ice cleaning "green"?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

There are a lot of folks who respond to dry ice detailing social media posts with some skeptical, and some very critical opinions about the environmental impact of this process.

When I first started looking into the feasibility of "dryce" cleaning vehicles as a business, I wondered "what are the negative, and positive, aspects of this prospective business"? To answer this question I reached out to a few organizations that monitor and/or validate a business's environmental impact. Though I opted not to pursue any kind of accreditation as a "green" business, I can tell you that each person I consulted verified that this is indeed an environmentally responsible process.

The Dryce process takes an industrial byproduct, carbon dioxide(co2), from commercial processes such as wine making, bread making or burning different fossil fuels for energy and gives it another use. Co2 is 53% more dense than dry air. The difference in density allows it to be stored underground in voids left by the extraction of different natural resources. This alone may be "greener" than using it in other processes after it is created and subsequently captured. But, we need to see the complete picture before we can decide.

An average driveway car wash uses between 40 and 80 gallons of water. I am not suggesting driveway carwashes are the same as what we do with dry ice. However, we can assume that it would most likely require the same amount of water, if not more, to pressure wash the engine bay, wheel wells and whole underside of your car.

Cleaning the engine, wheel wells and suspension/undercarriage is most likely going to require stronger, more concentrated soaps and chemicals than your driveway carwash.

A Dryce cleaning of the same areas/components requires zero water and zero of these chemicals and soaps to accomplish the same, comprehensive cleaning.

So, if we take co2 that is destined to be sequestered, or buried. Use it to clean your vehicle. Create no more or less co2 than we started with, but save thousands, even millions of gallons of freshwater. Also, introduce no harsh chemicals or soap into the environment. I don't see how this can't be a step in the right direction, from an environmentally conscious viewpoint.

Let's face it. Breathing can be construed as "bad for the environment". When we breathe we add co2, carbon dioxide, to the atmosphere. At least we don't exhale phosphates. If no one ever washed a vehicle again it would most likely be good for the planet(barring aero-efficiency/mpg arguments). I love my cars and I love my clean cars more than my dirty ones. I'm just going to try to clean them the most responsible way.

Clean cars are more efficient,


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