Washing your car in the driveway or street can pollute the Bay. Here’s how you can make your next car wash pollution-free and non-toxic.

Grabbing a sponge and washing your car in the driveway or street seems like an innocent way to save money on a car wash. But, unfortunately, it has environmental consequences.

On its journey to the storm drain,

the water you use to wash your car picks up oil, grease and chemicals from your car, the driveway and the street. The wastewater passes through the storm drain unfiltered (unlike liquids poured down the kitchen sink that are then filtered by the sanitary sewer system).

Full of dirt and chemicals, the water from your car wash ends up in local creeks, the Bay or the Pacific Ocean, polluting the water and harming wildlife.

Even the soap you use to wash your car can cause water pollution. Conventional soaps and cleaning liquids contain phosphates, naturally occurring chemicals that are not toxic on their own. But, in unnaturally high levels resulting from farm fertilizer and consumer soap run-off, phosphates cause a population explosion of algae that gorge themselves on the chemical. The resulting “algae bloom” drains the water of oxygen, choking and killing fish, plants and other creatures living in the water.

But there are many ways to make your car wash pollution-free and non-toxic – with options that fit into any budget.

Option 1: DIY Wash

When you wash your car at a do-it-yourself car-washing station, the wastewater is treated, removing chemicals, oil and grease, before it goes to our waterways. A DIY car wash will only cost you a few dollars, and you’ll have access to professional equipment like high-pressure hoses and soapy brushes, making it easier than washing your car at home.

In San Man Mateo, you can find a local DIY car wash station at Clearwater Car Wash, located at 341 East Hillsdale Blvd.

Option 2: Professional Wash

Not only is wastewater from a professional car washer treated before reaching the ocean, those washers use less water per car than if you did it yourself – another environmental benefit.

The San Mateo Countywide Pollution Prevention Program is partnering with 11 commercial car washers to offer a discount coupon for one car wash, valid through the end of the year. To get your coupon, call (650) 372-6245 or email pollutionprevention@co.sanmateo.ca.us

Customers with a coupon card will receive a discount at San Mateo Car Wash, 221 E. Hillsdale Blvd., and at Ducky’s Car Wash, 716 N. San Mateo Drive, in San Mateo. Other nearby cities’ car washers are participating as well.

Option 3: Home Wash

Still really want to wash your car at home? Then make sure to wash your car on gravel or dirt – any non-paved surface – so the dirty water can soak into the ground and be filtered by the soil before making its way into the groundwater.

And put the hose away, so you conserve water. Instead, use rags or sponges to scrub the car and wring them into a bucket. At the end of the car wash, pour the soapy, dirty water from the bucket into the sink, so it will be treated through your regular sanitary sewer system.

Make sure to use only cleaning products labeled “biodegradable” or “phosphate-free.”

Article Courtesy of: http://sanmateo.patch.com
Image Courtesy of: digitalart

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