Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Professional car washes better for environment

Here's an article that falls under the "you learn something new every day" category. Apparently, its better for the environment to have your car washed at a professional car wash than to wash it at home.

Here are some highlights from a news release put out by the International Carwash Association®.
  • Washing your car at home in the driveway with a garden hose uses about 7 gallons of fresh water every minute. In as little as 15 minutes, washing with a hose can use nearly 100 gallons of water.
  • Carwashes enrolled in the WaterSavers program ( more than 800 car washes across the United States and Canada) meet stringent environmental standards for water use and treatment. WaterSavers car washes use a maximum of 40 gallons of water per car in conveyor and in-bay/rollover systems. Self-service washes in the program maintain high-pressure systems that use 3 gallons of water per minute or less.
  • “It’s important to note,” says Eric Wulf, CEO of the Chicago-based International Carwash Association, “that washing vehicles on paved surfaces sends runoff containing soap and other harmful chemicals into storm sewers that empty into our streams, rivers and lakes. In contrast, professional car washes collect, treat and recycle waste water, discharging any remaining water into the local water treatment system, where it is processed before being released into waterways.”
  • Research shows that runoff from driveway or pavement washing can harm wildlife. A Washington state environmental firm collected actual runoff from a car wash fundraiser held in a parking lot. Rainbow trout were exposed to the runoff, and all the fish died within 24 hours. A second test, of water that contained the same concentration of detergent a car owner might use to wash a vehicle at home, produced similar results.
There is a really great, promotional video about the program on their website washwithwatersavers.com. You can also locate the Watersaver carwash that is closest and most convenient to you.


  1. 100 gallons sounds like the home owners are leaving the hose running the whole time which doesn't make sense. When i washed cars for my parents, we used a bucket of soapy water and rinsed the car with the sprayer attached to the hose. I don't see using 100 gallons that way. Think about how long it would take to fill a 100 gallon fish tank keeping the hose turned on continuously. i would guess that this is crafty use of numbers to promote a marketing campaign

  2. I think it is important to remember who paid for the study. Not that I am saying that washing on impervious surfaces and letting the hose run is a good idea. But, if you wash on the grass using a nozzle that shouts off the water and use biodegradable soap, you eliminate the problem. Letting water run whether you are washing your car, your dishes or bushing your teeth is environmentally a poor choice, one that has an easy solution

  3. Interesting post – thanks!

    So this got me thinking, and here I found a water authority doing it's own test on this same topic:


    Looks like WaterSavers may be on to something!

  4. That is fantastic info GoPro. Thanks so much for sharing it.

  5. In cities hit by drought in the U.S., Raleigh, NC and Atlanta, GA being two of them, water regulators have worked with elected officials to ensure that professional car washes are the only car washing allowed in those time periods. That's because independent, objective research indicates that it is clearly the most responsible environmental choice. Not only does it consume less water they also don't pollute local water supplies. Professional car washes by law must typically recycle (re-use) and/or reclaim (properly handle disposal of any chemicals). Washing a car on the driveway at home pretty much leaves grime, rust, salt, soap and other chemicals to flow into storm drains leading to drinking water supplies.


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