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Be wise when cleaning your car

Terri Bennett
Terri Bennett has been providing weather forecasts in the Charlotte area for more than 16 years. In September 2007, she launched to serve as the single source of Terri's knowledge and expertise. She is also promoting green technology in her 'Do Your Part' campaign.

It’s spring and pollen is in the air and on our skin, and much of it is coating our cars.

Washing a car at home can be one of the most environmentally unfriendly ways to do the job. Hosing down and soaping up cars in our driveways uses an average 80 to 140 gallons of water.

That’s not the worst of it. Contaminants such as oil, brake dust and harsh chemical-based detergents can run down the driveway into a nearby storm drain. That untreated soapy water, filled with pollutants, can travel into our lakes and streams.

Take a few precautions to protect our waterways:

Add a water-conserving nozzle to your hose to cut water use, and move your car to your lawn or a gravel surface. That way runoff can be absorbed into the ground.

Soaps, waxes and the like that contain petroleum-based ingredients, kerosene, silicone or mineral spirits should be swapped for biodegradable, phosphate-free versions.

I prefer going to a responsible carwash facility. A professional carwash generally uses about half as much water as the most careful home-based setup. Commercial operations are required to route used water into the sewer system, where it is treated before returning to local waterways.

Many carwashes also understand that they save money by recycling water. This efficiency, combined with the environmental benefit, also makes selling professional carwash vouchers a better fundraiser than holding a carwash event.

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