Keep your car wash eco-friendly

Top tips on making your car wash more sustainable.

Car washes have come a long way from the days of hand-washing cars with a bucket and sponge. With the rise of automatic car washes, the industry has become more efficient, but it has also become more complex. Like any other business, car washes are under increasing pressure to adopt eco-friendly practices and embrace sustainability mandates. Operators who want to be more eco-friendly must consider a wide range of factors before moving forward. In this article, we will explore how real estate, contracting, water and resource planning play a role in a car wash's sustainability mandates and eco-friendliness, what operators should consider when implementing green practices, and some of the trends we are seeing in car washes in recent years.

ecofriendly carwash vector

Real Estate and Contracting

As car washes look to reduce their environmental impact and improve their sustainability, one of the first considerations for car wash operators is the location of their facility. Operators must be aware of any zoning laws or regulations that may restrict the use of certain chemicals or water sources. A car wash that is located near a water source or in a sensitive ecosystem can have a significant impact on the environment. This means choosing a site that is not environmentally sensitive or protected, such as a wetland or wildlife habitat.

Additionally, operators should consider using brownfield sites for their car wash operations, which are sites that have been previously developed and may have contaminants in the soil or groundwater. Brownfield sites can be repurposed for car wash operations, saving virgin land from development and helping to clean up contaminated sites. 
Another consideration is that a car wash located in a densely populated urban area may be more sustainable than one that is in a suburban or rural area because it is more accessible to customers who can easily reach it by walking, biking, or using public transit. 

Even better, building a car wash near public transit means employees can commute through public transit every day, which can lower the car wash's carbon footprint. Additionally, a car wash that is designed to be energy-efficient and incorporate sustainable materials can help reduce its carbon footprint and environmental impact. 

Finally, operators should also consider the materials used in their buildings and the equipment they install. Using sustainable building materials, such as recycled steel or reclaimed wood, can reduce the environmental impact of construction. Additionally, operators should ensure that their contractors use sustainable practices, such as minimizing waste.

car being washed with a lot of water

Water and Resource Planning

Water is a precious resource, and as you can imagine, it plays a crucial role in the car washing business. So, using it efficiently is an important aspect of a car wash's sustainability efforts. Traditional car washes use an enormous amount of water, sometimes as much as 100 gallons per car. This water is often wasted and can lead to environmental damage due to runoff and pollution. If a car wash is looking to reduce the amount of water waste, car washes can reduce their water consumption by using low-flow nozzles, recycling water, and implementing other water conservation measures. These systems capture, filter, and reuse water from the wash process, which can result in significant water savings. In addition, a car wash can reduce its overall resource consumption by implementing sustainable practices such as using energy-efficient lighting, reducing waste, and using reusable
energy sources. 

Resource planning is also important for sustainability. Operators should evaluate their energy usage and identify areas where they can reduce consumption.

Chemical Sourcing and Management

Choosing the right chemicals is critical for car wash operators who want to be more eco-friendly. Many traditional car wash chemicals contain ingredients that can be harmful to the environment, particularly if they enter waterways or are absorbed into the soil. Operators should look for products that are biodegradable and environmentally friendly. This can lessen the vehicle wash's impact on the environment and help minimise chemical pollution. 
Compared to conventional chemicals, biodegradable chemicals are often designed to be less hazardous and more environmentally friendly. Look for chemicals that have been certified by eco-labeling programs such as Green Seal, EcoLogo, or the EPA Safer Choice program. You can also seek out highly concentrated compounds so that less of the substance is needed to provide the desired effects. As a result, there will be less packaging waste and a smaller carbon footprint from manufacture and transportation.
Finally, chemical management is just as important as chemical sourcing. It is crucial to handle chemicals correctly for the environment's sake as well as the security of both workers and customers. Operators ought to pick machinery that is made to use chemicals effectively and minimise chemical waste.

vector of multiple people washing a car


Contracting plays an essential role in promoting sustainability in car washes. By partnering with eco-friendly suppliers and vendors, car wash operators can reduce their environmental impact and improve their sustainability practices.

This includes sourcing chemicals and equipment that are less harmful to the environment and implementing water reclamation systems to reduce water usage.
When choosing a supplier or vendor, operators should look for companies who have experience in sustainable construction practices and are familiar with environmentally friendly building materials and have a firm commitment to sustainability, offering eco-friendly products and services. This can include sourcing biodegradable chemicals, using energy-efficient equipment, and implementing waste reduction programs.
Contracting is an area where car washes have one of the biggest opportunities to go green, so it should be prioritized from the start.

If you’re an operator who wants to step into the future and be more eco-friendly, you should consider the following:

  1. Chemical Sourcing: Operators should source biodegradable chemicals that are less harmful to the environment. These chemicals can help reduce the impact of wash water on the environment and minimize the amount of hazardous waste generated.
  2. Water Reclamation Assessment: Operators should assess their water reclamation systems to ensure they are operating efficiently and effectively. By reclaiming and reusing wash water, car wash operators can reduce water usage and decrease the amount of wastewater generated.
  3. Wash Control Systems: Operators should implement wash control systems that monitor and optimize wash processes in real-time. These systems can help reduce water and chemical usage, optimize energy efficiency, and minimize waste.
  4. Equipment Consulting: Operators should consider upgrading their equipment to more energy-efficient models that can help them reduce their overall energy consumption. They should look for equipment that is certified by Energy Star or other eco-labeling programs and consider using technologies such as variable frequency drives (VFDs) that can help reduce energy usage. You can also consider using recycled or eco-friendly materials to construct your car wash. This can include using recycled concrete for the foundation, using bamboo or reclaimed wood for building materials. Operators should also keep their equipment in good shape and running effectively with routine maintenance. To make sure that their machinery is operating at peak efficiency and not wasting water or energy, operators should plan routine maintenance for their equipment.
  5. Sustainable Landscaping: Native plants and trees that use less water and upkeep can be incorporated into the landscaping around the car wash. This will help the car wash use less water and energy while also giving the local wildlife a place to live.
  6. Manage waste: Develop a waste management plan that focuses on recycling, composting, and reducing waste. Consider using recycled materials for your marketing materials and packaging.
  7. Encourage eco-friendly behavior: For many people, going green is a daunting task. Changing culturally-ingrained habits is hard and can be overwhelming. So, if you want an a more eco-friendly car wash, educate your customers and staff on the importance of environmental sustainability and encourage them to participate in eco-friendly practices. You can also incentivize eco-friendly behavior, such as offering discounts for customers who bring in their own eco-friendly car washing products. You can even incentivize employees to bike, walk, or take public transportation to work by offering subsidies for public transit passes as a company perk and installing a secure bike rack. 

By considering these things, car wash operators can make significant progress in their efforts to be more eco-friendly. They can not only reduce their environmental impact, but they can attract environmentally conscious customers and potentially save money on energy and water costs.

abstract photo of soap on black surface

Trends in Car Washes and Sustainability

Car washes have long been associated with high water consumption, chemical usage, and energy consumption. However, many car wash operators have taken steps to become more environmentally friendly by implementing sustainable practices into their operations.
That’s why in recent years, the car wash industry has seen a growing trend towards sustainability and eco-friendliness. Car wash operators are implementing sustainable practices, such as water reclamation systems, solar energy, biodegradable chemicals, and more. Let’s take a closer look at these trends:

  1. Water Conservation: One of the biggest trends in car washes and sustainability is the emphasis on water conservation. More car washes are implementing water recycling systems, reducing water usage through low-flow nozzles (these can assist in saving water while the vehicle is being washed).
  2. Energy Efficiency: Car washes require a lot of energy to operate, particularly if they use heated water or have automated systems. This is why car washes are also increasingly focused on reducing their energy consumption. Many are using energy-efficient lighting, installing solar panels, and using equipment that is designed to reduce energy usage.
  3. Chemical Reduction: Car washes are also looking for ways to reduce their chemical usage, with many switching to eco-friendly cleaning products that are free from harmful chemicals and toxins. Some car washes are also implementing closed-loop systems that allow them to reuse their cleaning solutions.
  4. Green Building: We are also seeing more car washes implementing green building practices such as using energy-efficient lighting, employing sustainable building materials, and planning the car wash to let in as much natural light and ventilation are a few examples of these techniques.
  5. Solar Power: To help minimise their energy use and carbon footprint, several car washes are now adopting solar electricity. To produce renewable energy that can be utilised to operate the car wash, solar panels can be put on the roof of the facility or in adjacent locations.
  6. Digital Technologies: Lastly, car washes are increasingly using digital technologies to improve their sustainability efforts. Some are using sensors to monitor water and energy usage, while others are implementing wash control systems that allow them to optimize their operations for maximum efficiency. These technologies can help optimize wash processes, reduce water and chemical usage, and minimize waste.

Overall, these trends show that not only are car washes becoming increasingly more focused on sustainability and are looking for ways to reduce their environmental impact, but that there is an increasing demand from consumers for eco-friendly car washes. 

Because consumers are becoming more conscious of their environmental impact, they are seeking out businesses that share their values. As more customers become environmentally conscious, car washes that prioritise sustainability are likely to attract these environmentally conscious consumers and gain a competitive advantage in the market.

vector of an eco-friendly world


Sustainable. Green. Eco-friendly. No matter what you call it, it’s clear to see that as the world becomes increasingly aware of the impact of human activities on the environment, more and more people are looking for ways to reduce their ecological footprint. Thankfully, the benefits of being environmentally friendly are undeniable. 

By adopting sustainable practices, you can significantly reduce your environmental impact and contribute to a healthier planet. You can also save money. For example, using high-pressure washers that require less water can reduce your water bill, and better still, using eco-friendly cleaning products can be cheaper than traditional cleaning products. 

As if those benefits aren’t good enough, operating a more eco-friendly car wash can even mean attracting employees and new customers interested in eco-friendly business practices to opening the door to government grants to the potential for huge tax incentives. It’s clear that the advantages of being eco-friendly can be huge for car wash operators. Getting started is just a question of taking that first small step.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds