Washing a car at home in the driveway or at a parking lot fundraiser will use between 40 and 140 gallons of water on a single car. The lower estimate assumes the use of a bucket and spray nozzle. The higher is a free flowing hose.
Question – how much water does a professional car wash use ?
The answer is that most newer car wash facilities have fairly sophisticated water reclamation systems that enable the car wash to re-use water many times over. This allows the car wash to only use fresh water when absolutely necessary (such as a final rinse) to ensure a clean, dry car. In other words, while many gallons of water are being used during the course of an average car wash, only 20 to 30 gallons of fresh water are introduced during any given wash cycle. That is at the very least a 50% reduction in water usage over home washing and very likely much more than that.
Water conservation is only the beginning. Washing at home or in a parking lot introduces harmful cleaning chemicals and phosphates from road film into the storm drain that is intended to deliver rain run-off into rivers and streams thereby hurting the plants and animal life in that ecosystem. Professional car washes empty excess waste into the sewer where it belongs.
There may come a time in a potential drought crisis where home washing and parking lot fundraiser car washes are prohibited. There may even come a time when they are prohibited even when rain and water is plentiful, unless the water is properly conserved and disposed. Either way, there exists an alternative that is typically faster and even cheaper, in some cases, than washing at home. Washing the car is certainly not as essential as a toilet or shower, but if you are looking for ways to reduce water, look no further than your local San Diego Car Care car wash.