Despite the innocence associated with washing your car on a Sunday afternoon with the kids in your driveway, a do-it-yourself car wash can actually have more of an impact on the environment than you might expect.
In fact, many jurisdictions in Canada have banned washing cars at home altogether. Citizens of the Canadian city Calgary could face a $3,000 fine if they wash their vehicle with soap at home, and most aren’t even aware of it. Washing cars in the driveway is surprisingly one of the most environmentally damaging chores that can be done around the house. When you wash your car yourself, the product of this wash is water that goes directly into the storm drains, and ultimately ends up in rivers, streams and creeks where it becomes poisonous to aquatic life and can disrupts the numerous ecosystems that live there. After all, the water in question is contaminated with gasoline, as well as oil and residues from exhaust fumes, in addition to the chemical rich detergents being used for the washing itself. This water, unlike household wastewater that enters sewers or septic systems, undergoes zero treatment before it is discharged into the environment.
Not to mention the activity wastes city water, according to one report, on average, washing a car at home uses between 80 and 140 gallons of water. Despite the added personal expense, going to a commercial car wash can be much better for the environment as most drain their wastewater into sewer systems (USA and Canada have federal laws stating this). What is more carwash institutions often use computer controlled systems and high pressure nozzles which limit water usage. Many commercial car washes have systems in place to recycle the water they use too.
Depending on where in the world you live, you can make the choice to wash your own car if you insist upon it. In this case, there are ways in which can limit the damage on the environment. For instance, you can choose to use a biodegradable soap which is made especially for vehicle use. In addition, the location in which you choose to wash your car can also make a difference to where the potentially toxic water will end up. Washing your car on your lawn or over soil can be beneficial as the water can be absorbed and neutralized in the soil as opposed to flowing directly into storm drains or open bodies of water. Mopping up the excess water afterwards can help keep thirsty animals safe too.
This article was written by Chloe Hashemi on behalf of Credo Asset Finance who provide car finance in Norwich and Norfolk.