Use a Commercial Car Wash.
Washing your car at home is a dirty business. Oil, brake pad and tire dust and other chemical residue build-up – along with soap – wash straight down the storm drain and flow, untreated, into nearby streams, rivers and Puget Sound when you wash your car in the driveway or street. The water from commercial car washes flows into the sanitary sewer system and is treated by wastewater treatment plants before it enters local waterways.
Fix your car’s oil drips.
Motor oil is a pollution problem in our streams, rivers and lakes. Oil doesn’t dissolve in water, which means it sticks around for a long time. It’s toxic to people, wildlife and plants. Contain oil leaks that you know about until you can get your car fixed.
The water from car washing contains oil, zinc, lead, copper, solvents and antifreeze. All of these enter the Sound – or bodies of water that lead to the Sound – when we wash our cars on the street, in our driveways or in a parking lot. Soaps are a significant problem and are harmful to fish and the aquatic insects they eat. Soaps contain surfactants, which are chemicals designed to coat dirt and grime so they don’t settle back onto your car. Surfactants also coat fish gills and prevent fish and aquatic insects from getting the oxygen they need.
Market research from the International Carwash Association shows that 38% of the public wash their cars at home.
Dispose of Fluids Properly. Never pour anything but clean water down a storm drain, since most drains empty directly into streams or rivers. Recycle oil at registered collection centers throughout the region.
Use Cardboard. If you have an older car that leaks a little oil, put a piece of cardboard under the leak when the car is parked. Periodically dispose of the cardboard at registered collection centers, not in the trash.
Skip Driving Alone. Leave the car at home and take an alternative form of transportation, or carpool with other people in your neighborhood.