How Efficient Are Car Washes?

Water conservation should be a priority for everyone. At Xtreme Clean Auto Wash, we know the value of water which is why we've partnered with Lifewater to help bring clean drinking water to developed countries. Every time you wash your car, we make a donation that provides 2 months of clean water for people in Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Uganda.

Water is precious. Even (and especially) a Michigan car wash knows that! When every drop counts, it's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that car washes are a massive water waster. While it's true that most car washes use a lot of water, the efficiency may be better than you think.

Here's a few reasons why:

Car Washes Reclaim Water

The water used during your wash is reclaimed. In fact, most car washes are built to reclaim and reuse their water. However, this does not mean that the dirt and grime from the last car is being used on your car. Far from it.

Most car washes, including Xtreme Clean Auto Wash, use a sophisticated Reverse Osmosis system which captures, cleans, and filters reclaimed water. As a result, car washes use less water and maximize the efficiency of the water they do use.

Think Your Hose Is Better? Think Again

You may be tempted to think that washing your car at home uses less water. However, this isn't always the case. While it's true that a single garden hose isn't putting out the volume of water that an automatic car wash is; the difference is pressure and precision.

Car washes such as Xtreme Clean rely more on pressure and precision than sheer volume of water. Have you ever wondered why a restaurant-quality steak is difficult to replicate at home? The difference is in the equipment. Home ovens can't compare to commercial cooking equipment and the same applies to the car washing industry.

Our wash uses 28 zero degree turbo nozzles with a hyper-tilt boom that contours each vehicle for maximum cleaning efficiency. The pressure and precision just isn't the same with a garden hose.

Car washes do put out a lot of water, however it's in deliberate, controlled passes with precise settings. In short, when our turbo nozzles are going: it's for a purpose. With garden hose washes, because the volume and pressure isn't there, there can be a tendency to let the hose run. It isn't a lot all at once, but it can add up in a hurry! 

As a result, you can wind up using far more water by washing your car at home than by taking it through a car wash. With modern car wash technology, it is possible to reclaim up to 65% or more of the water output. While every wash is different, it is possible and even likely that a car wash uses only a fraction of the water that an at-home wash will use. Your average garden hose wash isn't doing that! 

Use the chart below from the Western Car Wash Association for more information on common water usage, including at-home car washes.

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There is one last problem with using hose water to wash your car. It isn't filtered. While car washes such as Xtreme Clean use a spot-free rinse system which reduces water hardness to below 17ppm; using water from a hose may contain minerals or other particulates which can cause spotty drying and water marks.

Environmental Impact?

The other downside of washing your car at home is that it can introduce oils, soaps, brake dust, engine grime, and other nasty elements into the environment. In turn, this can wind up in our lakes, rivers, and streams. 

Car washes, with their filtering systems reduce this impact. Whatever is left behind is removed and disposed of safely and only by licensed professionals. 

At Xtreme Clean Auto Wash, we are committed to being the best Michigan car wash around. Through our partnership with Lifewater, we continue to give back the water we use. As car wash technology moves forward, we are committed to staying on the leading edge of technology that will deliver the best, most efficient car wash around.