Car wash water contains road grime, oil and grease, heavy metals, and soap. When you wash your car in your driveway or in the street, polluted wash water flows into our water bodies. On the street, the dirty water flows into the nearest storm drain. From the storm drain, this polluted runoff may flow directly into our creeks, lakes and wetlands without treatment.
What can I do?
Wash your car at a commercial car wash:
Commercial car washes are required to send polluted wash water to the sanitary sewer system. The sewer system provides water quality treatment in wastewater treatment plants. Most car washes also reuse water several times before sending it to the sewer.
If you wash your car at home:
If you wash your car at home, wash it on a grassy or gravel area. Grass and gravel allow wash water to soak into the soil. It doesn’t drain directly to a storm drain or local water body. That keeps pollution out of streams and lakes.
Use chlorine- and phosphate-free, biodegradable soap to wash your car. Even these soaps are harmful to aquatic life and water quality, so please use soap sparingly. Biodegradable soap is not accepted directly into the storm drain system because it still contains contaminants.
Eco-Friendly Car Wash/Fundraising Ideas
Car washing fundraisers are popular events for local organizations to raise money. Instead of holding a car wash, consider an eco-friendly fundraiser such as selling tickets to a commercial car wash. Tickets can be purchased at a discounted rate from Brown Bear or the Puget Sound Car Wash Association.
To borrow an eco-friendly car wash kit for a charity event, contact Friends of the Issaquah Salmon Hatchery (FISH).
Don't Drip and Drive
Even a small oil leak can have a big impact. Oil leaks impact your car and our creeks, lakes, rivers, and Puget Sound.
Take these steps to maintain the health of your vehicle and the environment:
- Check your vehicle for leaks regularly and get them fixed promptly.
- Always dispose of used motor oil properly. Bring it to your local auto shop for recycling. Call or visit 1-800-RECYCLE to find a location near you.
- Use ground cloths or drip pans if you find a leak or are doing engine work. Clean up spills immediately.