Car Washing

Impact on the Environment

There's no problem with washing your car. It's just how and where you do it. Most soap contains phosphates and other chemicals that harm fish and water quality. The soap, together with the dirt, metal, oil and other automotive fluids washed from you car, flows into nearby storm drains. These storm drains flow directly into our stormwater ponds, ditches and the Straight River.

Man washing a green car

Algae Problems

The phosphates from the soap can cause excess algae to grow. Algae look bad, smell bad, and harm water quality. As algae die, the blooms sink to the bottom and decompose. During this processes oxygen is removed from the water. Fish and other aquatic life can not exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.

How to Help

  • Avoid using engine and wheel cleaners or degreasers.
  • Pour your bucket of soapy water down the sink or toilet when you are done, not on the driveway, sidewalk or street.
  • Take your car to a commercial car wash, especially if you plan to clean the engine or the bottom of your car.
  • Use a hose nozzle with a trigger to save water.
  • Use soap sparingly. Look for soap that is phosphorous free.
  • Wash your car on your lawn. The lawn will soak in the water.