The average household uses 116 gallons of water to clean a car (EPA Fact Sheet). Combine dirty water with the harmful elements found in car wash products and you are releasing pollutants into storm drains that affect lakes, rivers, plants and animals. Luckily, there are several ways to mitigate the impact of cleaning cars on the environment by adopting eco-friendly ways and practices.
Define Wash Area
Commercial car washes have a system for disposing solid and liquid waste when washing cars, so you might consider availing of their services. However, if you intend to clean your vehicle at home, make sure that used water and effluent do not go into storm drains which can harm lakes, rivers, vegetation, and animals. Do not wash cars in your driveways. Opt for grassy or gravel surfaces instead where the surfactants may be filtered before seeping into the ground. A study in New Zealand estimated a potential decrease of up to 83% of metals dumped into the water system when washing cars on grass.
Use Less Water
Water is precious and should be conserved. The Car Wash Industry Statistics show that up to 38 gallons of water is used when washing a car and 48,000 gallons of water is lost annually per car wash. Imagine how much water is wasted just by letting the hose run freely. Avoid using a hose without a nozzle and turn off the mains when washing your car. You can also use a power/pressure washer that consumes 80% less water compared to a traditional hose (Lowe's Pressure Washer Buying Guide).
Buy Safe, Biodegradable Products
Many biodegradable products exist in the market today that are kinder to the environment. Look for those that are certified. They are not only good for the environment, but also to others who are exposed to them. When storing these products in your garage, you don’t have to worry that they emit dangerous fumes when they leak or spill over. Certain chemicals such as bleach and formaldehyde are toxic to humans and animals.
Use Waterless Cleaning Products
State of the art, advanced technology has also penetrated the car washing industry with the introduction of revolutionary waterless cleaning products. You not only save money and time without using water to spruce up your rides, you are also contributing to a healthier, safer environment.
Education is Key
The bottom line is, many people are not aware of the implications of car washing on the environment especially if done at home. Educating people about the potential dangers of cleaning products and releasing used water into storm drains is the key to lessen pollution and help the atmosphere to remain clean while keeping vehicles spotless.
This Article was written by: Jess Walter.