Clean Cars, Clean Creeks

Few people realize that washing a car in their driveway Resident car washing with lots of sudsis an environmentally un-friendly  chore. Unlike our household wastewater, which goes to the sanitary sewer for treatment, this wash water – a mixture of water, soap, oil, dirt and other pollutants – runs down the street and into the nearest storm drain. It then dumps into the nearest lake, creek or wetland with no treatment. This filthy cocktail is harmful, even poisonous, to fish and wildlife and can wreak havoc on ecosystems.

Commercial car washes treat wastewater.

The most environmentally-friendly option to get your car clean is to use a commercial car wash – automatic or self-serve. Car wash facilities are required to send their wastewater to the sanitary sewer, so it gets treated before being sent back into the great outdoors. Commercial car washes also minimize water use and most recycle their water.

What about charity car washes?

Car Wash Kit 2

Borrow a Car Wash Kit from the City for your next car wash fundraiser to make it creek-friendly. They are easy to use and keep dirty car wash water out of local creeks and lakes. The kits are available for use, free of charge, to any community group holding a car wash in Kirkland. For more information, please email or call (425) 587-3858.

Alternatively, community groups can sell tickets redeemable at environmentally-friendly, commercial car wash facilities throughout the Puget Sound area. The Puget Sound Car Wash Association (PSCWA) and Brown Bear Car Wash offer custom-printed car wash tickets to organizations for $1.50 to $2.50 each. Groups usually resell them at $6 to $8 each. These programs are easy to participate in and the tickets are easy to sell – no sunshine or elbow grease is required. Find more information at or

Check out our flyer (pdf) for more information about car wash fundraisers in Kirkland.