When cars are washed on streets and driveways, the dirty water arrives in rivers, streams, creeks and lakes. Pollution associated with car washing degrades water quality. Washing your car is only a problem if you don’t know where or how to do it correctly. 

The best way to minimise the effect washing your car has on the environment is to use a commercial carwash. Most locations reuse waste water several times before sending it to a treatment plant. 


When washing your car at home you can minimise the environmental impact by:

  • Using biodegradable, phosphate-free, water based cleaners only
  • Minimising water usage by using:
    • a bucket
    • hand held hose fitted with a trigger or twist nozzle
    • high pressure cleaning unit
  • Washing on an area that absorbs water, such as gravel, or grass. This can filter water before it enters groundwater, stormwater drains, or creeks. Avoid washing cars on concrete or asphalt pavement unless it drains into a vegetated area
  • When planning a car wash fundraiser, try developing a partnership with a commercial car wash facility, or use a safe location
  • Always empty wash buckets into sinks or toilets

Related link

Vehicle washing - fact sheet