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wash_car(MCT)—It’s spring and pollen is on the attack. It’s in the air, on our skin, and much of it will end up coating our cars. No matter what particular elements you are battling this season, there are eco-friendly ways to keep your car clean for spring. And you can Do Your Part to wash your car without doing damage to our local waterways.

One of the most environmentally unfriendly ways to wash our cars is at home. That’s because hosing down and soaping up cars in our driveways uses and average of 80 to 140 gallons of water. And that’s not even the worst of it. Contaminates such as oil, brake dust and harsh chemical based detergents run down the driveway into a nearby storm drain. Do you know where that ends up? That untreated soapy water, filled with pollutants, travels right into our lakes and streams.

There are better options when it comes to washing your car yourself. One of the easiest ways to make less impact is to move your car to your lawn or gravel surface where all that contaminated runoff can be absorbed into the ground and filtered naturally. Concerned car owners should also give their car products a good long look. Soaps, waxes and the like that contain petroleum-based ingredients, kerosene, silicone or mineral spirits should be swapped with biodegradable, phosphate-free versions. That way they won’t damage nearby water supplies. If you’re specifically concerned with reducing the amount of water you use, regulate your water hose with water conserving nozzles. There is also a wide variety of eco-friendly waterless car wash products that eliminate the need for water altogether. Although in pollen season it is probably a good bet to rinse those allergens from your car before getting to the dirty work.

For me, I go the super easy route and choose a responsible car wash facility. A professional car wash generally uses about half as much water as the most careful of home car washer. These facilities are also legally required to route all their used water into the sewer system where it is treated before returning to local waterways. These days, many car washes also understand that they can save money by recycling most, if not all, of the water used in the wash process. This efficiency combined with the environmental benefit also makes selling professional car wash vouchers for a group fundraiser a better way to go than holding the car wash event yourself.

Keeping your car clean maintains your car’s value and it just makes you feel good. Do Your Part as you drive through the season to be clean and green at the same time.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of “Do Your Part: A Practical Guide for Everyday Green Living” available at

McClatchy-Tribune News Service
Distributed by MCT Information Services