Wash Your Car Responsibly

Many of us do not consider the affect that washing a car can have on the environment. However, washing dirt or sediment off of a vehicle may actually cause harm to local waterways and aquatic habitats.

When you wash your car at your home in your driveway, the wastewater typically runs into a storm drain. These storm drains are different than sanitary sewers because the water is not treated before it enters local lakes, creeks or streams.
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 Therefore, all of the dirt, pollutants, residue from exhaust fumes, gasoline and motor oil that you are washing off of your vehicle are being immediately directed into those waterways.

Individuals who wash their car at home also typically use more water than individuals who go to a car wash. In fact, the average homeowner uses 116 gallons of water to clean their car. Most commercial car washes use 60% less water to wash the entire car than most homeowners use just to rinse the car.
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However, there are steps that you can take so that you can have a shiny car without harming the environment:
  • If you can, take your car to a commercial car wash. Most locations reuse the water before sending it to a treatment plant.
  • If you must wash your car at home, use biodegradable, phosphate-free, waterbased cleaners only. Use a spray nozzle on the hose to reduce the amount of water needed to clean the vehicle. Try to wash the car on gravel or grass so that the water can soak into the ground, however, only wash the car on the grass if you are using biodegradable, phosphate-free cleaners.
  • Empty excess soap buckets into a sink or toilet so that it can be treated.
For more information about water quality issues, please contact the City Engineer by calling 816-439-4500. To learn more about water quality, please visit the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) water quality website.