It’s a common sight during a rain-free weekend: car in driveway, bucket of soap and water beside it, gardenhose at the 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.
Maintaining vehicles is only one part of maintaining them for a long time. Unfortunately, this DIY approach is not good for the environment.
When we wash our cars, we tend to be most concerned about getting rid dirt and dust off them. However, there are also oil, grease, exhaust residue, and 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 is not treated so it pollutes the water.
It’s not only the soap that causes problems. The soap’s phosphates can cause excess algae growth if they get into streams or lakes. Algae not only looks bad, it also damages water quality and takes up oxygen when it decomposes. This is the same oxygen that fish need to remain healthy.
Plus, we use a lot more water when we wash our cars ourselves. The Mid-America Regional Council saysThe average homeowner uses more that 100 gallons of water to wash his clothes.
Alternatives that are cleaner
According to government regulations, they must drain their wastewater into the sewer systems which carry the water to treatment facilities. This water is filtered prior to leaving the car wash facility.
Commercial washes use water more efficiently and reuse as much water as possible. Despite the fact Reclaiming water from the wellAlthough it is a complex process, it is less wasteful than constantly bringing water in.
WaterSavers is a program run by the International Carwash Association that recognizes car washes who meet certain standards. They must use an average 40 gallons or less water per vehicle. Other water and chemical requirementsAccording to Bethanee Martens, Express Wash Concepts.
Do you still want to do it yourself
You have options if you prefer to do it yourself. Check that your car is free of fluid leaks. Use a soap that is non-toxic, phosphate free, and biodegradable.
Place the soap bucket on grass or gravel. Gravel can absorb some water and naturally filter it. When you are done, take the soap bucket and empty it into a sink or to the toilet.