Today, the "greenest" way to wash your car is to take it to an automatic car wash. Studies show that an automatic car wash uses roughly half the water the average person would use while washing with a traditional bucket and hose. However it can be argued that the most effective way to shine up your vehicle remains to be hand washing but it can be far from environmentally friendly. The main reasons for this are the excessive use of water and the release of harmful substances such as soap residue, oil, acid and metal particles into the storm sewer system while washing and rinsing.
If you do plan to wash at home, you'll want to do the following:
- Use an automotive soap and cleaners that are biodegradable and nontoxic.
- Avoid washing on the pavement, which will let the wash water drain directly into a storm sewer. Storm sewers drain directly to streams or lakes and carry pollutants with them to these waters. Washing over grass or gravel that will absorb the water into the ground to reduce or eliminate the environmental impact is ALWAYS best.