Hands On carwash: driving on with their green goals

11:08 01 November 2012


The 'heroes' at Hands On use green chemicals to drastically reduce water use


Hands On is a car wash company studded with green awards for its environmental awareness, as Anna Dubuis learns...

Consider these figures.

Washing your car with a garden hose can use as much as 300 litres of water.

Going to an automated car wash uses about 125 litres.

But a Hands On car wash needs just two litres of water.

With water demand in England reaching unsustainable levels, it is this commitment to environmental sustainability that has gained the Ebbsfleet-based company a long stream of green awards.

Their credentials have even seen them presented in Parliament as an example of a small business “among giants” with a proper understanding of the importance of safeguarding the environment, reducing its water consumption not to boost its PR but to make a difference to the planet.

The eco-friendly car wash company has sites at 160 car parks across the UK with clients that include Sainsbury’s, Asda, Tesco and Marks & Spencer.

In north Kent they can be found at Sainsbury’s in Northfleet, and ASDA in Gravesend and Swanley.

Founder Richard Plowman first came up with the idea of car park valeting in 1996.

“It was Richard’s idea of the ‘wash while you shop’ car wash service. People come to us for the convenience factor. We can wash your car in the place where you park your car while you are doing your shopping. That’s the whole basis of the model,” says Hands On commercial director Bob Dine.

But where Hands On differs is in its environmental aspirations.

Richard spent years of research into developing a way to combine specialised cleaning equipment, low-chemical detergent and high water efficiency.

The result is a whole new washing methodology involving mobile car wash stations manned by self-employed workers.

Every morning the wash stations are filled up with enough water to last until the end of the day, and loaded with cleaning materials and chemicals.

The cleaners, called “heroes”, then use a series of special microfibre mitts to pick up dirt, buff the paintwork and finish it off with a shine, all while using minimal water.

There are three car washes on offer – the epic clean, elite shine and superior interior, costing between £7 and £15.

The service requires no electricity, uses safe detergents and has virtually a zero carbon footprint.

It is this that sets them out from the rest of the competition.

“We’re confident that we offer customers a far greener way to clean their cars without having to compromise on quality,” says Bob.

The trick is in the chemicals used, although Bob hastens to add that these are non-hazardous and the drainage is regularly tested to make sure of this.

More than 1200 car washers nationwide have been trained to wash a vehicle using the Hands On method.

As a franchise, individuals can buy into the service and own the car wash station.

The company’s ethos extends beyond simply washing cars and they have worked in association with the Energy Saving Trust to distribute leaflets to drivers on saving energy.

Such is their success that they have been included in the Green Book, the world’s only international reference guide to environmental best practice.

From every litre saved of water, Hands On hopes to inspire other businesses to take note.



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