With the warm weather here, many of us will be washing our cars a lot more (if it’s not raining constantly, like it has been here for awile!) Believe it or not, washing your car in your driveway is one of the most eco un-friendly chore that you can do. Not only does task waste A LOT of water (about 150 gallons of water), but most of the soaps we use to wash are cars are terrible for the environment. Think about it: you’re washing your car outside, and when the soap runs off down the driveway, where does it go? Into a drain. Where does this water go? Eventually the run-off that ends up in our storm drains makes its way into rivers, streams, and other waterways, poisoning the creatures that live there and wreaking havoc on our eco-system.
Professional car washing is the way to go to save water. Compared to 150 gallons for at home washing, professional washes average about 20 gallons of water use per car, while drive-through washes average about 80 gallons. This is one example of capitalism benefiting the eco-minded consumer! Car washes use water saving methods to save themselves money. If they used as much water as we use to wash our cars at home, they would go broke! By using less water, they make more money, and help the environment (even if that isn’t their original intention).
In the U.S. and Canada, all professional car washes are required to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, so it gets treated before being released back into nature, unlike run-off from home car washing. Not all car washes, however, recycle their water or use green cleaning products. Check with your car wash to find out if they do.
If you insist on washing your car at home, you can reduce your impact by remembering a few simple things. Turn your hose off between rinses, or wash using a bucket, to waste less water. Try to wash your car on dirt or grass, if possible, instead of in your driveway. This will allow the water to be absorbed and neutralized before running into storm drains. Use eco-friendly cleaners such as Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, Simple Green, Bi-O-Kleen, and Ecos Window Kleener. If you can’t get these products, look for cleaners that are free of phosphates and chlorine. Even better than any of these options is a water-free wash, such as Freedom Waterless Car Wash or Eco Touch waterless car wash kit. These options are great for spot cleaning, and will help you reduce the need for a full car wash.
Photo Source: suttonhoo22 via Creative Commons