The Debate: Hand Wash or Car Wash?

The debate: Which is greener—commercial car washes or doing it yourself at home?

Did you know that washing your car in the driveway is one of the most environmentally un-friendly chores you can do around the house?

When we home wash, the run-off water goes untreated into storm drains, and eventually ends up in rivers, streams and wetlands. The dirty water may contain soap, detergent, residue from exhaust frames, gasoline or motor oil. Car washing soap often contains phosphates and other nutrients, which spur the growth of algae. Excess algae not only block sunlight and prevent photosynthesis, but they use up oxygen.

The Alternative? Commercial Car Wash

Federal laws in both the U.S. and Canada require commercial carwash facilities to drain their wastewater into sewer systems, so it gets treated before it is discharged back into the great outdoors. And commercial car washes use computer controlled systems and high-pressure nozzles and pumps that minimize water usage.

Many also recycle and re-use the rinse water. As a result, automatic car washes may use 50% less water than someone who washes her car at home: 45 gallons per car at the car wash compared to between 80 and 140 gallons at home.

If you must wash at home, there are things you can do to lessen your impact:

•    Use a nozzle that automatically stops the flow of water when you release the trigger.

•    Choose biodegradable, phosphate-free soap such as Simple Green’s Car Wash or Gliptone’s Wash ‘n Glow. You can make your own by combining one cup liquid dishwasher detergent and three-fourths cup powdered laundry detergent with three gallons of water.

•    Wash over grass or permeable pavement so the unclean water can be absorbed and neutralized in the soil.

•    Avoid washing in direct sunlight and during the hottest part of the day to decrease evaporation

•    Use cloth instead of paper towels

•   Pour your bucket of soapy water down the sink when you’re done, not in the street. Or wash your care on a grassy area so the ground can filter the water naturally.

•    Also, try to sop up or disperse those sudsy puddles that remain after you’re done. They contain toxic residues and can tempt thirsty animals.

Also consider…

Waterless Car Wash Products are Good for Small Jobs?One way to avoid such problems altogether is to wash your car using any number of waterless formulas available, which are especially handy for spot cleaning and are applied via spray bottle and then wiped off with a cloth. Freedom Waterless Car Wash is a leading product in this growing field.


One Response to “The Debate: Hand Wash or Car Wash?”
  1. Rob Walker says:

    Instead of cleaning your car with water why not try this great product that is a waterless car cleaner, see the eco way to clean your car

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