Wash your car, but with almost no water

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If you have car, you are probably taking it to a garage to get it washed, or your building security guard would splash buckets of water on it every morning to clean it. But what if you could clean your car, just as well, but with much less water? Almost waterless, you can say. Well, it’s no make-believe story but a reality in our very own Bengaluru. Thanks to a group of young entrepreneurs, the ‘waterless’ car-wash service has been introduced in the city, and that too at your doorstep.

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Presently, Prowash offers their services at the recently-opened Forum Value Mall in Whitefield. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal

Prowash India is the first ever service-provider of its kind, claim the founders of the company. “The idea was conceptualised in December 2008. I stay in Yeshwanthpur. I had trouble finding people to wash my car. I stay in an independent house”, says Vivek Sridhar, one of the founders of Prowash. In an attempt to “organise this unorganised sector”, Sridhar and three of his friends decided to explore this sector.

Sridhar is the Director-Sales of Prowash and has previously worked in the financial services sector. Ganapathy Subramanya is the CEO. He runs various businesses in Bangalore including printer services and cab services for IT companies. Sridhar Subbaraman is the investor based in UAE and runs an insurance broking firm there. Gokulnath Sundaram, another founder, was into insurance broking in Dubai.

The team conducted a survey in January 2009, and spoke to over 2000 people in malls, churches and parking lots. Most people said they had a problem with finding a regular person to wash their cars, at their homes itself. Prowash started their services in February, but this was a water car wash. They launched in JP Nagar (in South Bangalore) but soon figured that the area faced acute water shortage.

This is when we started thinking about exploring opportunities, says Sridhar. His car was used for their ‘experiments’ and that’s how they came up with the ‘waterless’ concept. Sridhar says that the concept is very popular in Dubai, where people stand in queues to get their cars washed like this.

After doing some research through the Internet on waterless car washing, the foursome decided to import the required material from the USA. This includes a piece of micro-fibre cloth and a chemical that is used with it for wiping.

Unlike the regular carwash, this ‘waterless’ technique is labour-intensive. But the end result leaves you with a bright and shiny car. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal.

Sridhar explains the procedure they follow to wash a car through this technique. It isn’t entirely waterless but uses minimal water. The car is first sprayed with soap oil (or shampoo) mixed with water. For this barely a litre of water is used per car. It is then allowed to dry. Sridhar says that next the micro-fibre cloth with the chemical is used to wipe the car clean. He refuses to reveal details about the chemical and only says that it is “eco-friendly”. The chemical, however, smells like amruthanjan (the infamous ayurvedic balm) and is safe, he adds.

Even though the cloth can be directly used on the car without first wiping it with water, it is avoided since it can leave scratches. The micro-fibre cloth need not be washed either, because the dust falls off, Sridhar says.

Unlike the regular carwash, this ‘waterless’ technique is labour-intensive. But the end result leaves you with a bright and shiny car. And what’s more, all with very little water.

Presently, Prowash offers their services at the recently-opened Forum Value Mall in Whitefield. At Rs 60 per wash, the mall has introduced several Bangaloreans to this concept. Prowash also has customers at apartments on Sarjapur Road and JP Nagar. The company has 25 employees who wash 150 cars across three apartments.

Sridhar says they have stuck to apartment complexes at the moment since it is a major market for them. At the apartments, they charge Rs 350 per month for a car under the Budget Plan. This includes two washes a week, one interiors washing and one waxing and polishing a month. The Economy Plan comes at a price of Rs 500 and includes three exterior washes a week, two interior washes a month, and one waxing and polishing a month. The Standard Plan costs Rs 750. This includes washing the exteriors everyday, four interior washes and one waxing and polishing a month.

On an average people spend around Rs 300 or so on car-washing. So people are willing to spend on this, especially when we are providing it at their door-step, and any time of the week, as per their convenience”, says Sridhar, adding that most people have opted for the Budget plan.

Elaborating on this preference further, Sridhar adds that people who are on the budget plan (two washes a week) are still doing water washes on other days. "People still prefer the water wash. We haven’t done aggressive conversion yet. We will begin this in January", says Sridhar.

Gokulnath Sundaram (left) and Vivek Sridhar. Pic: Vaishnavi Vittal.

At the mall, they have washed around 1700 cars in the last one and half months. On an average, they washed around 30 to 35 cars a day. Ask him how people react when told about the ‘waterless’ wash, he says, “People are quite surprised that you can wash without water”. IT professional Vinod T, a resident of Kundalahalli, who got his car washed at the mall says he likes the concept. “The job was well-done. By the time I finished my shopping, it was ready. But I’m not sure how they did it”. He, however, is happy that he didn’t have to take his car to a garage for a wash.

Shankar Reddy, a Marathahalli resident, also got his car washed at the mall. “It’s really good. We can reduce the waste of water and save the environment. I think it is better than the usual water wash. It’s more shiny”, he says.

Sridhar reveals that the cost is quite low for them but the expenses lie in the marketing. They are looking to officially launch their services next month and reach a target of 2000 permanent customers by March 2010. He adds that their aim is to provide timely service and be eco-friendly. “People generally think more water the better. People are just not aware. I haven’t washed my car since February”, he says.

Prowash India is also looking to tie up with car companies, providing deals to customers at the time of purchasing a car itself. They are also in talks with malls in other parts of the city. They are also looking at adding new products like car accessories and insurance.

Prowash India offers the following plans to customers
Budget Plan – Rs 350 – Two exterior washes a week, one interior wash a month, one waxing and polishing a month
Economy Plan – Rs 500 – Three exterior washes a week, two interior washes a month, one waxing and polishing a month
Standard Plan – Rs 750 – Everyday exterior washes, four interior washes a month, one waxing and polishing a month

Vivek Sridhar is at 9880531969, prowash.india[at]gmail[dot]com.


About Vaishnavi Vittal 139 Articles
Vaishnavi Vittal is a Bangalore-based journalist.

12 Comments

  1. Can any one introduce me to this young entrepreneur. I will be glad to know more on this break through- Wash your car with little or no water.

  2. Cheater is the only word describe this company. I have been contacted by their executive for car wash service. I have paid Rs. 450 for the same on 6 Sep 2010. However I never received any service. Latter I got a call from their team saying, there is no service available in my area (Indiranagar). They promised to refund the money. I have followed up with them many time but even after more then 3month I have not received the refund till now.. please avoid these ppl.

  3. My experience with Prowash :

    I had subscribed to their services 3 months back. While the exterior cleaning was good, the interiors were never cleaned in a satisfactory. I took photos as proof and even showed their supervisor the interiors of my car after the “interior cleaning” was done. The supervisor agreed that the job was shabby and said he would make up for it. This continued for 3 months and i finally told them i would like to discontinue their services. Supervisor’s comment was ” we indians are never satisfied and keep on complaining”. I thanked him and told him i would want to share the compliments with the rest of India. Hope they improve their service going forward.

  4. Wow this is a very good, sensible and timely initiative. Kudos to all the four founders and their thinking out of the box. It is the time for us to learn these new techniques and become eco-friendly. Very good article that creates awareness amongst people with respect to such brilliant initiatives. I wish Prowash and team a good luck in their venture.

  5. Eliminating water for car washing is definitely the way forward, more and more countries and locations around the world suffer from severe droughts, and eventually car washing using water, will end up being prohibited.

    Just imagine the staggering amount of water being wasted every day, washing cars around the globe, the number is truly staggering. Apart from wasting water, “normal car washing” also leads to polution of our oceans, and water souces, such as rivers, lakes, and our ground- water, as the chemicals being used in the car washing process is flushed into our storm drains, and from there further into the oceans, rivers, lakes, and slowly getting into the ground-water.

    Prowash is doing the right thing, and the next step should be to completely eliminate water in the process, although Prowash presently only uses 1 liter of water per car, this can still be reduced to zero.

    We are using CroftgateUSA Aquanil X Waterless Car Wash in the US, in Europe, and in Asia. Aquanil X will wash and polish your car in one go, completely waterless.

    More information about Aquanil X and other products can be obtained on the following website:

    http://www.croftgateUSA.com

    Prowash – you are definitely a company doing the right think, conserving our most valuable natural resource, which is water, so keep doing it!

  6. A city based, here in Australia, car wash splurges water, chemicals and then more water and then all kinds of “fancy” things going on there…so that would like a 100 bucks at least.

    The amount of water wasted is just appalling. So maybe less water used could mean using more wipe clean techniques as opposed to drowning the car with water and lots of splashing water on to force dirt out of windows panels etc…..

  7. Washing the car and the amount of water…..

    Depends on how clean you want your car to be. Industries waste so much water.

    The key is getting your car clean…so I begin with just wiping my current car (a slightly older but clean car, Mazda 93 sports sedan) and then rinsing that instead of hosing it down.

    I use minimal chemicals or none. Works for my car. Looks clean! Depends if you wanna drive your premium car to go to a management team meeting or play golf, then you might as well get an auto car wash or a manual wash – obviously you can afford the premium wash. Costs a good $60 here in Australia, plenty of water used and that’s the cheapest….am not talking fancy washes that cannot be described here.

  8. Dear Mr. Srikrishna & Mr. Naik,
    Not to offend you guys but I guess these guys have taken a small initiative towards going green by using this method of washing.Out of 10 Ltrs if tehy are saving 9 ltrs thn it does make a lot of difference(They can wash 9 cars with tht 9 Ltrs of water).
    And i feel this is not a easy job, there is lot of labour required to do this work and i am sure these guys face lot of problems. So if we are not interested in taking their service lets atleast not discourage them.
    And if this small step is making some difference in saving water, then we as citizens of Bangalore should encourage people doing this job.
    And about using Chemicals, i am sure they have done their research before taking a leap, so that there is no damage done.

    Hope you don’t take my comments the other way. It’s just a small step from my side to encourage people in saving water and keeping Bangalore Green and beautiful.

  9. 10 ltrs of water is all i need to wash my car and absolutly no chemicals or detergents. Micro fiber can be used to get the shine (no chemicals).

    I dont see anything green about this method of washing

  10. Good development to save water, but really no mystery. The secret “amrutanjan”-like spray is nothing but Carnauba was or Turtle wax. These brands are available all over the US for about $5-6 a piece. And the special ‘micro-fiber’ cloth is called chamois, water and dust absorbent, available all over for a few dollars. Actually, it’s imported from India. Also “chhindi” material (old sarees, shirts shredded and sewn together) are also sold for waxing and drying cars. Really, no secret here at all, except a smart idea sold to an otherwise naive population.

  11. Congratulations & Good Job. All the best Vivek. Looking forward to get my car washed at Prowash.

Comments are closed.