A DIY attitude can help you go green in many of your everyday choices. When you choose to reuse a plastic container instead of tossing in the garbage, you get a second life out of it. Instead of taking up space in a landfill, upcycling can save you money while being safer for the environment.
When it comes to washing your car, doing it yourself could seem greener than going to your local car wash. Car washes feature high pressure wands and lots of foaming detergents washing over your vehicle. Parking your car in the driveway and using a garden hose and biodegradable soap seems to be a great do-it-yourself option.
But this is not actually the case. Washing your car in your driveway can be a lot less green than taking it to your local car wash. Here’s 3 reasons why:
Conserving Water at Every Stage
Manufacturers design car wash systems to maximize the cleanliness of your car while minimizing the amount of freshwater needed. As a major expense for your local car wash company, they do everything they can to save water where they can. Currently, the average water usage across the car wash industry as a whole is 38 gallons per car wash.
To put this in perspective, older washer machines with a water factor of 10 or higher, can use 40 to 45 gallons per load washed. While new technology in high-efficiency washers can bring this down to 14 to 25 gallons a load, it only takes 2-3 loads of laundry to use more water than washing a whole car!
By comparison, an average garden hose uses water at a rate of 10 gallons a minute. This means that after 4 minutes of running your hose in the driveway, you’ve already used more water than an typical car wash. And, with a high pressure wand, you’re liable to use the hose for even longer than that.
Water Reclaim Systems: Less Down the Drain
When you wash a car a home, all of the dirt, grime, and grease from your car washes down the driveway into the nearest sewer drain. Any of the oil in your car’s undercarriage or salt from winter roadways washes directly into local bodies of water. The purpose of sewer drains is to prevent streets from flooding in times of intense rain, not to filter out water pollutants.
On the flipside, commercial car washes use water reclaim systems to both filter out pollutants AND reuse water for multiple washes before sending it down the drain.
One popular system is a three tank system. This works in three steps. First, water from the car wash floods the first tank. Dirt settles to the bottom of the tank and the cleaner water at the top of the tank overflows into the second tank. The second tank overflows into the third tank and then the water from here is reused stages of the car wash that won’t affect the quality of the wash. Many of the early rinse and soapy stages are done entirely with reclaimed water. Other systems use reverse osmosis and other methods to achieve even higher levels of onsite water purification.
For car washes who wish to remain profitable, the goal of 90% water efficiency is the goal. This means that most car washes only use freshwater for the 10% of the wash cycle where it is absolutely necessary.
Regulating Common Pollutants
After you finish washing your car at home, it is unlikely that you store up the water runoff and test for pH levels and the presence of harmful pollutants. It’s much harder to track and test the water at home.
Commercial car washes on the other hand, are strictly regulated by local municipalities. Their wastewater must be tested regularly to ensure that it does not contain more than the legal amounts of harmful chemicals. Many car washes then use professional pit cleaning companies who safely dispose of hazardous waste according to EPA regulations.
Your Green and Clean Machine
In addition to the water-saving benefits of visiting your local car wash, there are number of other benefits including waxes to preserve your coat of paint. Next time you think about washing your car in the drive, consider visiting one of Flagstop’s friendly locations instead. Hope to see you then!