It is a common sight on a rainy weekend: car in the driveway with a bucket of soapy water next to it and a garden hose at its ready.
It’s not well known that car washes at home can also cause water pollution in our communities.
What you need to know
- Over 100 gallons of water are required to wash your car at-home.
- Untreated, water from the street or driveway runs into streams and rivers.
- All commercial car washes must comply with environmental regulations
- You can reduce the harmful effects of washing your car yourself if you wish.
Clean vehicles are an essential part of maintaining vehicles for a long life. Unfortunately, this DIY approach is not good for the environment.
We are often most concerned about getting rid dirt and dust off our cars after we give them a bath. Along with the dirt and oil are grease, oil, fat, exhaust residue, as well as soap chemicals.
When you wash your car in your driveway, the water and any other debris it contains flows into storm drainages that eventually reach your local waterways. It isn’t treated so it pollutes water.
It is not just the dirty stuff that causes problems. The soap’s phosphates can cause excess algae growth if they get into lakes or streams. Algae is not only ugly, but it can also cause water quality problems and pollute oxygen.
We also waste a lot water when we wash our vehicles ourselves. The Mid-America Regional Council saysThe average homeowner uses more water than 100 gallons to wash their clothes.
According to government regulations, they must drain their wastewater into the sewer systems which carry the water to treatment facilities. The water is filtered before it leaves the car wash facility. The waste that has been filtered must be stored and disposed in specific ways.
Commercial washes use water more efficiently and reuse as much water as possible. Even though Reclaiming used waterIt is a complicated process but it is more efficient than constantly bringing in water.
WaterSavers is an International Carwash Association program that recognizes car washes that adhere to certain standards. They must use an average of 40gallons of water per vehicle. Other chemical and water requirementsAccording to Bethanee Martens, Express Wash Concepts.
You still want to do this yourself?
You have options if you prefer to do it yourself. Check your car for fluid leaks. Use a soap free of phosphates and non-toxic.
You can park on grass or gravel to absorb some of the water and filter it naturally. When you are done, take the soap bucket and empty it into a sink or to the toilet.