Environmental and Cost Benefits of Car Washes

by Jenny Knodell, IQS Editor

A surprising 15% of American car owners never wash their cars; they just let the rain take care of it. Many wash their vehicles in their driveway with a hose and household cleaners. Some claim they don’t have time, others don’t want to pay for a professional cleaning. Today, there are 100,000 professional car washes in the United States. Whether you’re part of a small business or working for a large chain, owners of car wash equipment need to advertise the benefits of their company to the public. Virtually every type of car wash system used today—whether touchless, coin-operated, automated or hand-operated, has advantages that far outweigh the alternatives.

Perhaps the most attractive advantage to the consumer, using professional car washes is a money-saving method of protecting an expensive investment. Washing a car twice a month can protect from environmental factors, including acid rain, salt on roads during the winter and bird droppings, all of which can cause serious damage over time. These unavoidable issues will harm the finish, age the car and significantly decrease its overall resale value—on average, about 20%.

Photo courtesy of D & S Car Wash Equipment Co.

Once car owners who don’t use professional carwash systems know about the environmental damage done to their car’s finish, many choose the at-home method of washing their car with household cleaners and a hose in their driveway, as it seems to be the quicker and cheaper option. Washing a car this way is actually a waste of water in comparison to car wash systems, and it can also be harmful to a car’s finish because of common household soaps that are used. Automated and hand-operated car washes always use water efficient equipment like computer controlled systems or high-pressure nozzles and pumps to clean cars. These factors significantly reduce the amount of water used to wash a single vehicle—an average of 10 times less water is used.

Because of 1972 The Clean Water Act, all professional car wash systems are required to drain the dirty water into approved treatment facilities. Unfortunately, dirty water produced while washing a car in the driveway drains into sewer systems and makes its way into drinking water, lakes, streams and rivers. The soap, which isn’t biodegradable, and road grime, such as oil and tar, pollutes local wildlife. Today, many car wash equipment companies, such as D& S Car Wash Equipment Co. and NS Vehicle Wash Systems are following initiatives and processes that protect and preserve the environment. Many recent improvements in their equipment have helped to reduce the chemicals used in their washes, and their systems are also often compatible with water recovery and recycling systems.

Most car owners are not aware of these facts, which, when added up, leave using professional carwashes the most economical, environmentally friendly and fast method of car washing. Changing pre-conceived notions of car washing has proved to be a tough job, but once the advantages are made more public, people will use car washes more and more. This could easily happen through advertising on company websites, commercials and posting at the carwashes themselves. Environmental friendliness is now a widely-used advertising method, and could serve as an untapped resource for increasing carwash owners’ customer base.

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