Coastal Waccamaw Stormwater Education Consortium
Helping local governments meet requirements for stormwater education and public involvement

Where should I wash my car?

Much like oil, antifreeze, brake fluid and other automotive fluids, dirty car soap from washing your car will also wash off your driveway into stormdrains and ditches and wind up in the surrounding rivers, lakes, streams and ocean. It is important to be cautious of how these products that we never really consider as environmentally threatening can effect our water quality. There are a few things that can be done to prevent this from happening, and they begin in your driveway.

Any kind of container, matting or spill containment product can prevent these common products from leaving your driveway. Properly maintaining your car is also a proactive approach to reducing the amount of automotive leaks that could wind up on your driveway and in our water, but what should you do when you feel like giving your car a wash?

It doesn’t require a rain storm event to wash off soap residue from your driveway into stormdrains and ditches, it only takes a garden hose. Not only will your garden hose swiftly move your dirty car soap accross your driveway and towards the nearest drainage point to surrounding water bodies, but it will also pick up leftover oils and other pollutants along the way. You can try washing your car on the lawn instead of over an impervious pavement like your driveway. The soil in your yard will serve as a natural filter of the pollutants washed off your car by allowing the pollutant compounds in your water stream to adsorb to sediment particles below your yards surface. For those of you who like to have those tires and rims looking spiffy as well, you can wash your car over a pervious type pavement. Pervious pavements are more frequently being used as driveways and allow water to filtrate through the pavement and into the ground below. However, the best option for keeping your car looking fresh is to bring it to a local car wash that sends its dirty water to the wastewater treatment plant.

See also “What Can I Do? Maintain Your Car!
Resource: Coastal Waterways