Washing Car in Driveway, and Stormwater Drainage

Washing your own vehicle in a driveway that just drains all the soapy runoff out to the street/stormwater drainage is bad, right? I see a fair number of people around my area doing exactly this, but I guess they either don't care or they're draining into wastewater somehow? Even if you had a front yard to wash your car on, I'd imagine you'd be ruining your lawn by doing so as well.

I ask because I'd like to wash my own car myself, but don't want to do it carelessly. It would seem that a commercial carwash would be the more environmentally friendly option though.


  • +5

    Yes it can be but there's soaps out there that are environmentally friendly.

    • Ah interesting, do you have an example? I'd be curious if they compromise on effectiveness and such.

      • https://www.bowdensown.com.au/nanolicious-wash

        most of bowden's own range claim to be environment friendly.

        • nanolicious

      • +1

        Turtle Wax claim that most of their products are pH neutral, phosphate-free, environmentally friendly, and completely bio-degradable.

  • +3

    Wash your car on the lawn or gravel. This will allow the water to percolate or soak into the ground where the soil can act as a natural filter. Make sure to dump your bucket in your sink or allow it to filter through the ground. Don't dump it down the driveway. Better yet, use a commercial car wash where the water is recycled and then sent to a wastewater treatment facility.


  • How else am I going to wash my vehicles? I don't have a front or backyard, just a driveway.

    I use a commercial wash every now and again but it's also cheaper to wash them myself, plus I can't take my motorcycle through a car wash.

    • Car washes during lock-down have been a lottery.. some suburbs they are open, some only the drive through ones.. others closed.
      Went driving to find one yesterday in our area, and they all had witches hats blocking entrance and no power to the machines - even the drive through ones.

      • Yeah, all those down here in Melbourne have been closed, even drive through which I normally use.
        Didn't even think of that.

        • There's quite a few open in the eastern suburbs. Probably aren't supposed to be but yolo.

          The idiocy of closing a carwash for "public health" reasons is laughable.

          • @meowsers: Oh, I see it absurd to close the automated drive-through car washes, don't get me wrong.
            I'm just not going to drive all around the south-east to get my car wash, especially when there's limits to how far you can travel.
            Just easier and cheaper to wash it myself.

    • +1

      plus I can't take my motorcycle through a car wash

      Can’t or won’t….

  • -2

    First world problems.

  • +1

    I worried about it too once, but now I just assume all the detergents from car washing mix with the oil from leaky cars and neutralize each other.

  • The runoff goes straight into the marina where I wash my car, so I try look for more environmentally friendly ones and not use too much.

  • I would have thought the answer was obvious. If you care about soapy water draining into the environment, directly, indirectly, or however else, simply don't use detergent.

  • +3

    I've absorbed so much hand cleanser over the last 18 months that when I pee, I can wash my wheels

  • 1st option. On the grass. I have never killed a blade of grass in 45 years.
    2nd option. On the grass…just a little to one side each time.