Washing the family car in front of the house seems like a great way to save money on a professional car wash while spending some time in the sunshine, right? What you may not realize is that with every wash, you are sending upwards of 120 gallons of soapy, toxin-laden water directly back into the watershed. Furthermore, studies show that washing you car by hand wears away at the finish on your car much faster than with a professional wash.
Since the water that runs off your driveway and into the sewer isn’t sent to a water treatment plant the soap, gasoline, oil, and heavy metals that used to be on your car are put directly into streams and rivers. Conversely, professional car washes are required by law to sent their run-off to a water treatment plant. Furthermore, your average professional car wash uses between eight and 45 gallons of water – drastically less than what you would use at home. Lastly, the cloth that is used in the overhead and side rollers in professional car washes is designed specifically to minimize damage to the car’s finish. Though they can be more expensive than their home-based counterparts, these car washes are not only better for the environment, but also better for maintaining your car’s appearance.
In the instance where a professional car wash isn’t an option, some steps can be taken to minimize your impact on the environment. A wide array of green cleaning agents can be used to take care of the car’s body, windows, hubcaps, and tires. Using a pressure-washer instead of a garden hose greatly reduces the amount of water needed to get the job done. Washing the car on a permeable surface like gravel or grass greatly reduces the amount of run-off that makes it into fragile ecosystems. Finally, instead of finishing by dumping the bucket of soapy water into the gutter, pour it into the toilet to ensure that it makes it to a water treatment facility.