I have vivid memories of my grandpa washing his convertible in the driveway on Sunday afternoons. The time and care he would take. The buckets of sudsy water and pile of drying cloths sitting on the grass as he carefully groomed his prized possession.

Idyllic, right? Sure, but also a guaranteed way to wreak havoc on the environment and waste money on your water bill!

If you’re a car lover AND a good steward of the environment you might want to rethink the driveway car wash approach. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The average homeowner uses 116 gallons of water to wash a car! Most commercial car washes use 60 percent less water for the entire process than a homeowner uses just to rinse the car.

Additionally, driveway car washing sends all kinds of contaminants directly to storm drain:

  • Dirty water containing soap.
  • Detergents.
  • Residue from exhaust fumes.
  • Gasoline.
  • Heavy metals from rust.
  • Motor oil.

This contaminated water doesn’t undergo treatment before being discharged back into our waterways.

When cars are washed on streets and driveways, that dirty water eventually winds up polluting our rivers, streams, creeks, and lakes. This both lowers our water quality and negatively impacts aquatic habitats.

The EPA states that non-point waste water runoff (created when washing your car in your driveway) is the leading cause of fresh water pollution in the United States.

What to do?

The best way to minimize negative effects from the driveway car wash dilemma is to use a commercial car wash.

When planning a car wash fundraiser, try to develop a partnership with a commercial car wash facility so you can be sure you are sending dirty water to be treated.

It’s important to the life of your car to keep it clean and tuned up, and it feels great to have a clean car! There are many different options for commercial car washing. The main categories of car washes are tunnel, automatic, and self-service.

A tunnel wash has a chain conveyer that pulls your car from one end of the tunnel to the other. The chemicals, water, and washing machines clean your car as you are pushed through to the end of the wash to a dryer. Many offer a full-service option which includes interior cleaning. An express tunnel is typically exterior only. Tunnels (especially express tunnels) are usually faster than automatic and self-service.

An automatic wash is when you pull into a bay and park your car. The washing mechanisms rotate around you, spraying and cleaning while you stay put! The biggest differentiator for an automatic wash is that generally they are open 24/7.

A self-service wash gives you the option to do most of the cleaning yourself, as it distributes the soap and different chemicals on your car. You pull into a bay that often takes cash or credit card for each kind of application so you can pick and choose what goes on your car. In this option you are paying for the chemicals and rinse water but not the labor.

However you choose to keep your car sparkling, please for the sake of our environment choose a commercial wash! That way, you can cut down on water usage and reduce harmful pollutants entering our waterways.

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