Water from vehicle washing can make its way across a hard surface (such as a driveway) and enter the storm drainage system. From there, wash water enters our creeks and streams, makes its way to rivers and, eventually, the Chesapeake Bay. Water from vehicle washing can contain contaminants such as nutrients and hydrocarbons and should not discharge to the storm drainage system, creeks, or streams where it can harm fish and other aquatic life.
When you take your car to a commercial car wash, wastewater is contained and treated by the business per federal regulations. If you wash your car at home, there are other ways you can reduce the environmental impact of car washing:
Designate an area for vehicle washing that discharges to gravel, grass, or other permeable surface that allows water to infiltrate. Better yet, wash your vehicle on the lawn – you will clean your car, filter the wash water, and water your grass all at the same time!
Use hoses with nozzles that automatically turn off when left unattended.
Avoid using acid-based wheel cleaners or engine degreasers unless the waste can be properly disposed of.
Reduce the amount of soap used by using a bucket of soapy water to re-soap rags or sponges rather than adding more soap directly to rags or sponges.
Use products labeled “non-toxic,” “phosphate free”, and “biodegradable”.
Here is a short and helpful video about washing your car the “green way”!