Tips for choosing an environmentally responsible car wash

Tips for choosing an environmentally responsible car wash

Since a car is one of the most valuable possessions a person can own, its vital to care for it properly and know how to choose a car wash. Keeping a car washed and clean can actually protects a car, saves you money on wear and tear over the life of the vehicle, and keeps a car looking newer longer.

Regular car washes are particularly important for car-owners who live in colder climates that experience harsh winters. The minuscule particles of sand and salt are highly abrasive to the finish of a car. Even organic substances such as tree sap, and bird droppings contain corrosive elements that can eat through the finish and paint on a car, leaving the body susceptible to rust.

Many people opt to wash their cars in their own driveways or on the street. While this may seem like a convenient method for keeping a car clean, it actually poses many environmental risks.  Typically, people use soaps, waxes, polishes and other cleaning agents when washing a car. These chemicals and pollutants run down driveways and streets, washing directly into storm sewers. Storm sewer water, which is not treated at waste water plants runs directly into streams, rivers, lakes, wetlands and public water supply areas, posing serious threats to wildlife and people.

Environmentally-friendly, no- or low-rinse products can be found at specialty auto care product stores. Look for “low-impact” products that have been developed to reduce sewer run-off, while producing a professional-level auto shine.

In order to keep your car in tip-top condition and avoid environmental hazards, a good decision is to choose a car wash for a monthly deep-clean, and then spend the time maintaining your vehicle with low-impact detailing and cleaning products. The majority of commercial car washes do recycle and filter their water. Reputable car washes will be able to provide patrons with information pertaining to how waste water is drained, filtered, treated and/or recycled.


Professional car washes are divided into three categories

Patrons drive their car into a bay and use a hose/power washer and soap wand to wash and scrub the car much like washing a car at home in a driveway. Typically, these self-serve washes are coin operated, and attendants may not always be on hand.  

Touch-less Automatic:
Touch less automatic washes require patrons to drive the car into a bay, and onto a conveyor belt that automatically moves a vehicle through a complete wash system that moves up and down the length of your car using high-pressure nozzles, and an assortment of soaps, cleaning agents and protective waxes and finishes that leave a car shiny and spotless

Friction Automation:  
Friction automation washes are very similar to touch-less automatic, in that they automatically pull cars through a bay on a conveyor belt. However, this type of car wash adds rotating cylinders of cloth or soft material that do touch the car- scrubbing away dirt and grime.

Selecting the right car wash is really a matter of personal preference, that can also depend on particular features of the make and model of a vehicle. Some car owners may prefer bring their vehicles to a self-serve car wash, where they can focus on scrubbing particular areas and details.  Other people may prefer to drop off a vehicle at a car wash, and come back a few hours later for a clean car. Ultimately, there is no right or wrong answer.

Pricing can certainly be a big issue for patrons. Certainly, some car washes will be more expensive than others. That is why it is important to research the services, environmental standards, and other perks, before deciding upon a particular car wash. Keep in mind that many car washes will offer a discount on specific days of the week, or for specific people. For instance, ?Ladies Day? on Wednesdays or discount Fridays. Many car washes offer additional discounts for patrons who may need oil changes or other vehicle services.

Before you choose a car wash, it is important to do your background research and learn to ask the right questions. Don’t be afraid to ask whether the company recycles their water, and uses environmentally sound soaps, waxes and cleaning agents. Next, consider whether the equipment looks clean, safe and well maintained. Is there an attendant on hand? Finally, does the company offer the particular category of car wash that you desire? If you have any other questions or concerns about a car wash, take the time to look them up online, and find out if they are BBB certified.