Charity Car Washes

Charity CarwashWashing Cars for Charity

Holding a car wash is a popular way to raise funds for various organizations. All too often, these car washes hurt the environment. That's because they are often held in public parking lots that drain into the stormwater system, which leads directly into nearby creeks, and the Bay. Soap suds, oil, grease, and other contaminants are washed untreated into the storm drain system and end up polluting local waterways. Putting these materials into the storm drain is the same as dumping them directly into the Bay.

The Problem

Dirt, grime, oil, soap, and other car wash residuals are harmful to fish, wildlife, and plants that grow in and around waterways. Even biodegradable soap causes trouble. When it enters a waterway and begins to degrade, it uses up oxygen needed by fish, plants, and other wildlife.

Suggested Solutions

By planning ahead, your car wash fundraiser can be fun and profitable for your organization, as well as respectful of our local waterways and the environment. Some options on how to conduct an environmentally-friendly car wash are listed below. In all cases, use a flow-control device such as a hand spray with an on/off hose trigger to conserve water.

Option Number 1

Partner with commercial car washes. We strongly recommend this solution. Mechanical car washes provide a valuable service by removing pollutants from wash water. They have special racks that empty into the sewer system. The runoff, along with water from homes and businesses, goes through the wastewater treatment plant before being discharged to the Bay. Commercial car washes are convenient, available year-round, and because they recycle water, they conserve this natural resource.

As a fundraiser for your group, consider selling coupons or tokens that allow customers to have their cars washed at a commercial car wash. The car wash company may even give your group a special rate and/or help publicize your fundraising event.

Option Number 2

Use "waterless" cleaners. Commercially available waterless cleaners are a good alternative and can be located by doing an Internet search on "waterless car wash."