The green dilemma: Hand wash or commercial car wash?

going green with the car wash

Image by VirtualErn 

My husband and I were noticing the other day that our car was looking quite dirty and needed to be washed.  Now personally, I don’t mind taking my car to the car wash…okay, actually getting my husband to take it there….but that got me thinking about which option was the “greener” option?  Was it better for the environment and would it save more water to wash our car by hand or would it be better to take it to a car wash after all?

Then I read this blog from  Per the blog, washing your car at home typically uses between 80-140 gallons of water.  A commercial car wash uses about half that or about 45 gallons of water on average.  I know, I know…you always shut off the water while you are “cleaning” the car, my hubby says the same thing.

However one thing I didn’t know, was that federal laws in the U.S. and Canada apparently require waste water in commercial car washes to be put into a sewer system, where it is processed, treated and comes out to be used again as completely clean water.  At home, while washing the car, the dirty/soapy water goes down the driveway into a storm drain and then usually goes untreated back into the environment.  Some car washes go a step further and use systems that not only minimize water usage but also recycle and reuse the rinse water from your car wash.

Hey, now I don’t feel bad about taking our car to a car wash rather than washing it ourselves.  Although I have to admit, I’ll probably participate in my kids’ school car washes now and again as they get older.  Maybe by then there will be a greener way to have a fund-raising car wash, who knows.

Anyway, when you take your car to the car wash the next time….remember you are saving water and being a little “greener” by doing so.  And while you are at it, don’t forget to get your oil checked, top off your car’s fluids and use a good additive to keep your car not only looking better but running better too.

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