BílþvotturMost automatic or semi-automatic car wash facilities use high pressure wash and brushes. The underside of the cars is often washed as well, which increases the water use. Sometimes special brushes are used for the tires.

Washing each car takes around 6-8 minutes, and there are around 20,000 cars washed every year in a medium size car-wash facility. There is no environmentally friendly facility in operation in Iceland so  here is a business opportunity for someone who wants to make a change.

Using high pressure wash minimises water use. However, you need from 250 to 400 liters of water to wash one car. The chemicals being used are foam-shampoo and fat remover, also various other specific chemicals are used.

The environmental impact of an ordinary car wash facility is considerable, especially during wintertime. Harmful and even toxic metals such as lead, nickel, cadmium and zinc are released from the car-washing facilities. Furthermore the car-washing, facilities release a lot of oil and petroleum products and therefore an extremely good oil separator is needed before the effluent enters the sewage system. A high load of organic chemicals are also in the effluent and the reason for that is mainly because of the tensides found in the cleaning agents being used. The phthalate DEHP which is an endocrine disruptor and has a general negative impact on health is found in the effluent along with High Aromatic Chemicals which are suspected to be detrimental to health.

Finally it can be mentioned that the effluent from the car-washing facilities often have either very high pH or very low pH, and the pH oscillates considerably. All this makes it difficult to clean the effluent and actually this polluted effluent can damage sewage cleaning stations and clog filters.

However, in environmentally benign car-washing facilities in Germany and Sweden, the effluent is partly cleaned before it is released into the general sewage system. The effluent from car-washing facilities is usually harmful to the ecosystems unless some kind of treatment of it takes place.

It is, therefore, very important to use environmentally friendly car-washing facilities where available, where fat removing chemicals are used based on natural ingredients, and where the most environmentally friendly cleaning agents are always used. The best car-washing facilities in the world are those that clean the effluent so well that they can use the water again and no effluent enters the sewage system.

See more about Nature's eco-shopping guidelines.

Graphic: Nature's ikon for car-wasing, Guðrún Tryggvadóttir ©Nature.is.

May 4, 2012
Ingibjörg Elsa Björnsdóttir, Náttúran „Vistvæn innkaupaviðmið fyrir bílþvott“, Náttúran.is: May 4, 2012 URL: http://natturan.is/d/2010/07/25/vistvaen-innkaupavidmid-fyrir-bilthvott/ [Skoðað:Sept. 19, 2019]
Efni má nota eða vitna í samkvæmt almennum venjum sé heimilda getið með slóð eða fullri tilvitnun hér að ofan.
skrifað: July 25, 2010
breytt: May 4, 2012