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5 tips for an eco friendly car wash


A clean car doesn't have to cost the earth. With a few simple tips that'll save you time, money and effort, your car will look good at no extra cost to the environment.

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The Australian summer can have your car looking at bit worse for wear from all the dust, dirt, sand and grime. Washing your vehicle becomes an important part of car maintenance as this intensifies, but regularly washing your car can also have negative effects on the environment.

The runoff from car washing tends to have chemicals, rubber, oil and metals mixed into it. After the wash, this runoff can travel down the driveway, into the street and directly into the nearest storm water drain. Once there, it enters our waterways, ending up in rivers, lakes and possibly the ocean, negatively affecting the earth's ecosystem[i].

So, when it's time to bring out the bucket and sponge again, why not consider some environmentally friendly ways to wash your car?

1. Choose an accredited 5-star commercial car wash

One way to get your car cleaned in an environmentally responsible way is to visit an Australian Car Wash Association (ACWA) approved commercial car wash. The accreditation, which is indicated by a five-star Water Saving Rating, recognises car wash operators for their environmentally responsible business practices.

Checking and finding the establishment's federal water efficiency rating and the Smart Approved Water Mark indicates that the car wash uses best practice in water management.

Commercial car washes in Australia can be preferable to washing your car at home because they are required to comply with regulations set out by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), such as having approved 'trade waste' collection pits for all the runoff that accumulates as a result of the wash[ii].

At a commercial car wash, this wastewater is redirected into the sewers and treated, before it’s allowed to enter our waterways. Car washes also reduce water wastage through efficient water management. Additionally, you don't have to do any of the actual work!

2. Waxing and polishing regularly

Waxing and polishing might seem like a lot of extra work but both processes can help your car look much better and stay looking good for longer[iii]! Protection from rust, a great surface shine and an easier go of it when you wash your car again are just a few advantages. With new, more eco-friendly products available, you can even clean and wax all at once!

3. Use a bucket or a hose with an adjustable nozzle

Choose a bucket over a hose to improve your water efficiency. Fill a bucket with water so that you can monitor how much water you're using instead of continually spraying your car with a hose. Keep another empty bucket by your side to wring out your sponge and prevent the runoff from flowing into the storm water drain. After you're done, empty the bucket into your laundry sink so that the waste water can go through the sewerage system[iv].

An adjustable hose nozzle that can control the water's flow or even better, one that is operated by a squeezable trigger are preferable to those that only turn off at the tap. The nozzle will help control the water flow while washing and a trigger-based mechanism will ensure that the hose stops spraying when the trigger is released.

4. Park your car on the lawn (or gravel)

If you want to wash your car at home, parking your car on a permeable surface, like grass or gravel is better than parking it on the concrete. If you use biodegradable cleaning chemicals, you can also water your grass while you wash your car[v].

5. Use environmentally friendly car cleaning products

Another consideration when cleaning your car at home is the product that you're using. Choosing cleaning products with biodegradable ingredients or ones that are phosphate-free[vi] makes washing your car a little less harmful to the environment.

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[i] CleanWater, 'Preventing Pollution When you clean your car',, viewed February 8, 2022

[ii] CleanWater, 'Preventing Pollution When you clean your car',, viewed February 8, 2022

[iii] Kwan, D, 'Car paint maintenance | How to keep your car looking brand new', CarsGuide,,viewed February 8, 2022

[iv] Environment Protection Authority South Australia, 2004, 'The Disposal of Soaps and Detergents', Government of South Australia,, viewed February 8, 2022

[v] Smart Approved Water-Mark, 'Car Washing At home or at a commercial car wash',, viewed February 8, 2022

[vi] Bennett, T 2010, 'How to wash your car the green way', The Seattle Times, 8 June,, viewed February 8, 2022

Please note the information in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any decisions based on this article. Newcastle Permanent Building Society does not recommend any third party products or services and is not liable in relation to them. Any links to third party websites are for your information only and Newcastle Permanent Building Society does not endorse their content.

This article has been prepared by Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL 234708 (“Allianz”). Information contained in this article is accurate as at 08/02/22 and may be subject to change. In some cases information has been provided to us by third parties and while that information is believed to be accurate and reliable, its accuracy is not guaranteed in any way. Any opinions expressed constitute our views at the time of issue and are subject to change. Neither Allianz, nor its employees or directors give any warranty of accuracy or accept responsibility for any loss or liability incurred by you in respect of any error, omission or misrepresentation in this article. 

Newcastle Permanent Building Society Limited arranges this insurance as agent for the insurer Allianz Australia Insurance Limited ABN 15 000 122 850 AFSL No 234708, acting under our own AFS Licence. Policy terms, conditions, limits and exclusions apply. Before making a decision, please consider the Product Disclosure Statement and key fact sheets available on this website, by calling 13 19 87 or from any branch. The relevant Target Market Determination is available by calling 1300 493 824. If you purchase this insurance, we will receive a commission that is a percentage of the premium. Ask us for more details or see our Financial Services Guide before we provide you with services.

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