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Greenwashing – Car Washing, That Is

We finally washed our car this weekend. After three trips to Maine in a month, it really needed it. I’m happy to report that, much like with dishes, the most environmentally friendly way to wash is also the laziest.

That’s right—a commercial car washing facility is the best way to wash a car. Why?

  • Less water use – Washing a car by hand at home uses between 80 and 140 gallons of water; automatic car washes average just 45 gallons. They do this by mixing air with the water to get a high pressure spray, as well as reusing filtered waste water.
  • Better waste water disposal – Driveway car washing allows the waste water to flow directly into storm drains, where it contaminates waterways. Commercial car washes by law must filter their waste water before directing it into the sewer system.

It looks like the absolute best solution is actually to wash a car by hand at a commercial facility, which uses the least water (around 15 gallons) and prevents pollution from washing into storm drains. That’s awfully cold this time of year, though, so we’ll compromise by using a drive-through car wash until it warms up.


Comment from Dave Belson
Time February 26, 2010 at 11:50 am

I love using the self-serve washers. The soap brush and jet washer are just so much fun! I recommend bringing an old towel with you to wipe off the areas you missed, and so you don’t get water spots.

Comment from Brenda Pike
Time February 26, 2010 at 11:53 am

You know, I have never used a self-serve washer, just the drive-through kind. But I’ll definitely have to give it a try it this spring. Efficient + fun = good.

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