Be a friend to our environment…
Dear EarthTalk: What is the most environmentally friendly way I can wash my car: doing it myself or going to the local car wash? — Jim, Denton, TX
Few people realize that washing our cars in our driveways is one of the most environmentally un-friendly chores we can do around the house. Unlike household waste water that enters sewers or septic systems and undergoes treatment before it is discharged into the environment, what runs off from your car goes right into storm drains — and eventually into rivers, streams, creeks and wetlands where it poisons aquatic life and wreaks other ecosystem havoc. After all, that water is loaded with a witch’s brew of gasoline, oil and residues from exhaust fumes — as well as the harsh detergents being used for the washing itself.
Commercial Car Washes Treat Waste Water
On the other hand, federal laws in both the U.S. and Canada require commercial car wash 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. For more information
- Washing your car at home uses more than 100 gallons of water, while washing your car in a professional car wash uses between 15-40 gallons.
- Florida is facing the most significant water crisis in its history. Climate change and growing population significantly and increasingly impact Florida’s rain fall that provide fresh water to our homes.
- The average American uses 100 to 175 gallons of water at home every day when an African family uses 5 gallons.
- 800 million gallons of water are wasted every day to wash cars in the United States = 10 billion glasses of fresh water!
- Many women and young girls in developing countries must walk as much as six miles every day to retrieve water for their families.
Just like the website says… Shift Your Habit
Commercial Car Wash vs. Washing Your Car by Hand
TRUTH OR TRASH
Using a commercial car wash is more environmentally friendly than washing your car by hand.
The eco-issues related to car washing involve water consumption and water pollution.
On average, full-service car washes use between 8 and 45 gallons of water per vehicle. The average home wash with a hose and bucket can use more than 100 gallons.
Many commercial car washes limit their water usage by recycling rinse water. They minimize pollution by either treating water onsite, or pumping wastewater into the sewage system where it’s treated downstream.
Washing your car in the driveway or on your lawn can consume over ten times more water than would be used at a commercial car wash. Home washes also result in huge amounts of dirty, grimy, soapy water pouring into the gutter and down a storm drain.
Storm drain water is not treated. So any chemicals in your car wash run-off have a good chance of entering some local river, lake, or ocean where they can injure fish or other aquatic species.