This guideline refers to operators using water from the reticulated (town) water supply system to undertake large vehicle washing and applies to non-residential large vehicle owner/operators, transport companies with vehicle washing bays, and mobile commercial operators contracted or hired to wash large vehicles. Examples include:

  • buses*
  • trains
  • aircraft
  • trucks, prime movers, truck tractors, and road trains*
  • trailers*
  • earthmoving and other construction equipment
  • other vehicles including military vehicles and emergency vehicles

*as defined under Queensland Transport registration codes for heavy vehicles. (For more information refer to Main Roads. It is critical that operators involved in large vehicle washing include water use efficiency and advances in technology in their business planning. In addition, operators should continue to upgrade to the most water efficient equipment as soon as it becomes economically feasible.

Note: An aircraft should be washed to meet safety requirements. Target requirements within this guideline do not apply to individuals, owners or commercial operators undertaking aircraft washing activities to meet the safety requirements specified in the Civil Aviation Regulation (CAR) 1988 or the Civil Aviation Safety Regulation (CASA)1998.

The objective of this guideline is to provide advice on the compliance requirements for large vehicle washing operators under Toowoomba Regional Council Restrictions, specific industry water targets, practices and water efficient equipment to be used for particular tasks.

How to demonstrate compliance

All operators undertaking large vehicle washing must:

  • operate in accordance with Toowoomba Regional Council water restrictions
  • attend an industry association training program; and/or
  • ensure staff undertaking large vehicle washing attend an industry association training program and be registered with the Toowoomba Regional Council
  • display training certification and be able to provide a registration card on request.

Target, practice and equipment requirements

Target requirements

  • Alternative water sources (i.e. Rainwater from a tank, recycled water) must be used where possible prior to accessing reticulated (town) water for large vehicle washing. When using alternative water sources, consideration needs to be given to any health and safety issues. Operators must implement strategies to capture, store and transport rainwater or other appropriate types of water to minimise reliance on the reticulated (town) water supply where possible.
  • Only high pressure water cleaning units or automatic washing machines are to be used.
  • High pressure water cleaning units must operate at a flow rate of no more than 20 litres per minute.
  • Washing activities must be limited to either: no more than 5 minutes per vehicle: or a maximum volume of 100 litres of water per vehicle.
  • Large vehicles must only be washed a maximum of once per week.

Operational health and safety requirements

  • These requirements do not apply to washing activities undertaken to prevent material risks associated with an accident, fire or hazard to health, safety or the environment.
  • These requirements do not apply in the case of washing activities undertaken to provide necessary operational maintenance, for example, but not limited to, the removal of concrete from concrete agitator trucks.

Practice requirements

When undertaking cleaning, the following approaches should be taken:

   1.   Area preparation. A broom/blower/vacuum must be used to clear away loose debris from the surface to be cleaned. This will greatly reduce the amount of water needed to rinse the area. Large vehicles must be washed away from direct sunlight to reduce evaporation and must be washed on grass or on a containment mat.

   2.   Application of cleaning agents. When applying cleaning solutions or solvents to a surface, the following can be used:

  • pump up sprayer
  • diaphragm pump (both 12v DC and 240v AC)
  • engine-driven diaphragm or roller pump
  • high pressure pump (spray pre-mixed solution through pump at low pressure)
  • high pressure pump (low pressure venturi injector to mix concentrate with water and spray at low pressure)
  • high pressure pump (high pressure venturi injector, such as an acid injector - to mix concentrate with water and spray at high pressure)

When applying solutions to a surface, low pressure/low volume equipment should be used with multiple applications (as needed). This will allow more cleaning solution to stay on the surface as opposed to ‘misting’, ’bouncing’ or ‘running off’ the surface.

   3.   Agitation. After applying solutions to a surface for cleaning, the surface should be scrubbed to ensure that cleaning capability is maximised. This can be done by the following:

  • by hand with brush/broom by rotating brush powered by water flow from tap or engine driven pump by rotating brush or brushes
  • by direct pressure of water from a mains
  • pressure tap delivered by one or more nozzles· by direct pressure of a water engine driven pump delivered by one or more nozzles (zero degree rotating nozzles, single nozzle, surface cleaner with two or more rotating nozzles, water broom with two or more fixed nozzles)

  4.   Rinsing Once the cleaning process has been completed and all soiling has been removed from a surface, the following methods can be used for rinsing:

  • mains pressure water delivered by one or more fan shaped nozzles or
  • engine driven pump to deliver water by one or more fan shaped nozzles

Rinsing efficiency can be improved with cleaning solutions that separate and pick up the soiling and are soluble in water; pressure can be used to push the dislodged soiling off the surface (particularly useful on flat surfaces). All run-off must be managed in accordance with the requirements of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and/or Toowoomba Regional Council as the local Water Service Provider (WSP).

Collect wash water and reuse for other non-potable uses such as washing other vehicles or irrigation of gardens/lawns.

The use of hot water should be considered for certain cleaning tasks (particularly when cleaning fats, oils and grease). This can be done with certain equipment types, and should be done in accordance with health and safety requirements.

Equipment requirements

1.   Accessories for pressure cleaners should include, either:

  1. a turbo head or
  2. a rotary head attachment

Extension poles with adjustable nozzles must be used to reach high areas from the ground. This will assist in ensuring that the water jet is directed specifically to the target area reducing potential overspray. The use of click-on fittings will facilitate rapid interchange from standard lance to extension, and reduce down-time. It is important to ensure that the most appropriate fittings are used for the job being undertaken to ensure water is used in the most efficient manner possible.

2.   All pressure cleaners should be equipped with either:

  1. a total stop mechanism for electric driven units or
  2. a bypass mechanism on petrol/diesel driven units or
  3. for older units, a thermal dump valve feeding into a header tank fitted with a bypass return hose and float valve. This will eliminate waste that may occur when the trigger is not engaged.

3. Water supply to the header tank should be turned ff prior to the completion of a cleaning task in order to minimise wastage. To avoid pump damage the following time limits are recommended:

  1. low-pressure cleaning: 10 minutes prior to the completion of the task
  2. high-pressure cleaning: 5 minutes prior to the completion of the task

4. Weekly checks and maintenance of water equipment must be undertaken to limit waste from leaks.

5. Operators must carry a hose replacement kit to ensure immediate replacement when a leak occurs.

Refer to diagrams for more information about high pressure cleaning unit accessories.


All chemicals should be used in accordance and compliance with:

  1. Toowoomba Regional Council’s environmental requirements.
  2. Environmental (eg. EPA) regulatory requirements.
  3. Occupational health and safety requirements.

This guideline in no way seeks to override any current regulatory requirements in relation to environmental, public health, and occupational health and safety matters.

Related document

Water - Non-residential water efficiency guideline & form for a fixed vehicle washing premises (PDF for print)