South San Francisco, CA July 18, 2019 Submitted by SMC Flows to Bay
Tips For Responsible (And Eco-Friendly) Car Washing
Sometimes doing things ourselves means we can be more creative, efficient, and smarter with our resources. For example, making food at home rather than getting takeout can reduce waste by eliminating unnecessary driving and the need for single-use packaging. But when it comes to washing your car at home, this weekend chore can actually become a huge source of water waste and contribute to water pollution. What’s the wiser choice?
While it may feel like washing it yourself is the better choice, taking your vehicle to a commercial car wash is the much more environmentally-friendly and water-wise option.
Car Washing At Home
So how can commercial washes, with their giant hoses and huge machines, use less water than you would at home with your yard hose and sponge?
Washing your car at home uses about 12 gallons of water per minute when using a basic 50 feet hose that is half an inch in diameter. This amount almost doubles at 22 gallons per minute if your hose is 5/8 of an inch in diameter (Curious about how much water your garden hose uses? Check out this nifty flow rate chart!). Ultimately, using a garden hose can contribute to a lot of water waste! A short 10-minute car wash can amount to more than 100 gallons of water.
To add insult to injury, all of that water is very likely running off your driveway, sidewalk, or street, and into a nearby storm drain. Water from car washing can contain many elements that are unsafe for natural waterways. This includes dirt, oil, metals (copper, nickel, and zinc), other car fluids—and of course—soapy phosphates and chlorides from carwash soap. All these pollutants get carried by the water into a storm drain and then flow directly into nearby creeks or other waterways.
How Are Commercial Car Washes Any Better?
Commercial washers are equipped with high-pressure hoses and sophisticated machinery that limits the amount of water used. An automatic car wash will use about 30-45 gallons of water per vehicle according to a 2018 study by the International Carwash Association, typically less than half the amount of washing it at home.
The water savings don’t stop there. Instead of the water draining into local waterways, commercial car washes have ground drains where water is collected. The water is then taken to a treatment facility plant, where it can be filtered and reused. At least 60% of the water must go through this facility and be recycled and reused as required by California Law.
Eco-Friendly Car Washing At Home
Okay—so maybe you’re not a fan of paying to have your car washed. If you would rather wash your car at home, there are a few things you can do that will lower your water waste and water pollution. Here are 4 important tips for the do-it-yourselfers:
- Wash your car with a bucket instead of a hose;
- Use biodegradable soap;
- Wash your car on grass, gravel, or another porous surface that will help absorb the water and make sure it doesn’t go down a storm drain;
- Wash your car using waterless cleaners (these new cleaners are designed to be sprayed onto your car and then wiped off with a rag—no water needed!)
If you’ve found more ways to reduce pollution, conserve more water while washing your car at home, or if you have thoughts about commercial car washing, please send your tips and comments to email@example.com.
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