TIPS FROM THE EXPERT: Green Ideas for washing your car at home

By Christine Wied

When it is time to wash your car or recreational vehicle, the “greenest” or sustainable choice is a self or full-service car wash where the wastewater is collected and treated. If you employ a mobile car washing business, they must wash the vehicle on your property or non-public right of way and not in the street.   All water used must be collected and disposed of in a sanitary sewer system.  If you ever see fluid or any other substances being discharged into the street, please contact Ventura’s Illicit Discharge Hotline number at 667-6510.

If you choose to wash your vehicle at home, here are a few suggestions to minimize the environmental impact.

  • Wash the vehicle on grass or gravel, not on a driveway to reduce runoff.  All water should be kept on your property.  With the water used to rinse the car go the soap, dirt, oil and other pollutants.  If they leave your property, they will enter our waterways and the ocean through the stormdrain.
  • Use as little water as possible to do the job. Washing a car at home could use up to 116 gallons of water.
  • When choosing a cleaner, use a phosphate-free biodegradable detergent orcheck out the list of car care products on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Design for the Environment (DfE) website or look for the DfE label on product packaging. This program promotes the design of products that are not only good for business but also the environment.  The DfE labeled product ingredients have been reviewed and studied for potential human and environmental effects based on current knowledge and information.
  • Empty the soap bucket into a toilet or sink, never in the street or gutter.

Open Line Article for July 11, 2012

Contact: Christine Wied,

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