Car Washing

A simple car wash can use over 100 gallons of water, all of which washes into storm drains and nearby waterways.
Man washing his car.
Car-wash-water contains polluting substances such as soap, detergents, residue from exhaust fumes, gasoline, heavy metals from rust, and motor oils. These substances harm water quality for aquatic wildlife as well as ourselves.

What Can We Do?


  • Wash your car over the lawn or gravel to prevent the soap suds and car grime from getting into the stormdrain.
  • Use rolled-up towels to divert water from the driveway to the grass.
  • If planning a fundraiser car wash event, plan to avoid street runoff by diverting water to a vegetated area or pumping it to a sink.
  • Minimize water usage. Use a spray nozzle with flow restriction to minimize water volume and runoff. Repair leaky hoses.
  • Experiment with using less soap or occasionally none at all.
  • Never empty wash buckets onto the driveway, into the street or storm drain. Wash buckets are best to empty into sinks, toilets or places in the yard safe from runoff.