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Talking about the car wash: Officials: Use a car wash instead of doing it yourself during drought
July 28, 2015, 05:00 AM By Bill Silverfarb Daily Journal

Bill Silverfarb/Daily Journal
Ducky’s Car Wash has a soft-cloth wash system that uses recycled water which is filtered by a reclamation system to guarantee clean water.

The shade was in short supply at high noon Monday as plenty of customers at Ducky’s Car Wash in San Carlos waited for workers to put the finishing touches on their sparkling clean vehicles.

Some might think it odd that the line to get into Ducky’s was so long, though, considering the state is in the middle of an epic drought and once-green lawns have turned brown as mandatory water conservation efforts have taken root.

But officials with the San Mateo County Health System are urging residents with dirty cars to drop the hoses and drive on down to your local car wash instead.


Car washes actually save water and prevent pollution from entering into the Bay and ocean.

And now San Mateo County is even offering $5 discounts to residents to go to the car wash rather than wash vehicles at home.

Using a professional car wash can save about 150 gallons of water, which is equivalent to three to four showers or 10 loads of dishes. In fact, most professional car washes use under 20 gallons of water per car, which is equal to the amount used by new, water-saving washing machines, according to a press release from the county’s Health System.

Professional car washes trap and recycle the water used. Washing a car in the driveway or street sends pollutants like oil, grease, copper, nickel, zinc and soap running into storm drains, which go directly into local creeks, the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.

At Ducky’s, a state-of-the-art computer system ensures that each customer’s car gets exactly the right amount of soaps, cleaners and waxes. Its soft-cloth wash system uses recycled water which is thoroughly filtered by a reclamation system to guarantee clean water, free of any dirt or debris.

Residents who wash their own cars in front of their homes or driveways, however, are likely sending the dirty water into the Bay.

Some cities will even fine residents for allowing the soapy water to enter storm drains.

“Water is so vital to San Mateo County; it is indispensable in our daily lives and we have the good fortune to be surrounded by beautiful water on both sides. We all play a role in saving and protecting water now and for future generations, and we’re pleased to partner with 10 local car washes that are committed to reducing water use and preventing pollution,” San Mateo County Supervisor Don Horsley wrote in a statement.

Tuesday, July 28, Horsely will be at Ducky’s to give a behind-the-scenes look at how it saves water and prevents pollution from entering the Bay.

The county has a water pollution prevention program that offers pollution prevention rewards to those who participate.

It also offers advice on the best options to keep your car clean if you can’t make it to the car wash.

They include:

• Wash your vehicle on the grass or gravel or where water can be diverted to nearby landscaping, away from the street and storm drains;

• Put a nozzle on the hose and use rags to wipe brake dust off of wheels before washing;

• Reduce the amount of soap used. Wash the car with plain water and use a hose nozzle with a trigger to save water;

• Use soaps, cleaners and detergents that are labeled phosphate free or biodegradable. Any soap, even biodegradable, is not allowed to flow into the storm drain, because even biodegradable soap depletes water of oxygen which harms aquatic life;

• Pour the bucket of soapy water down the sink when you are done.

For more information, a list of participating car washes, and to sign up for monthly discounts, visit

(650) 344-5200 ext. 102



Tags: water, washes, system, county, which, pollution,

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Talking about the car wash: Officials: Use a car wash instead of doing it yourself during drought
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