Can I Wash My Car In My Driveway? (Find Out Now!)

Ryan Womeldorf
by Ryan Womeldorf

Whether you have a brand new car or an older vehicle that you like to take care of, washing it can become a regular thing. After all, there is nothing quite like a bright, shiny car that has just come right out of the car wash.

But maybe you are thinking of saving a little money and washing your car in the driveway. Not long ago, there would not have been a second thought about it. But there may be concerns about washing your car in your own driveway. Many municipalities have issued ordinances that state that you cannot wash your car in the driveway. It is partially due to the water wasted but has more to do with the potentially harmful chemicals in commercial car cleaning products.

Do You Need a Brick and Stone Floor Contractor?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Times Have Changed

Before we get into it, it is important to note that things have changed in the world. When it comes to energy and water conservation, there is a more serious attitude. We realize that we have been largely wasteful in the past and that there are corrective measures to be put into place.

Whether it be electricity, fuel, or water, there are ways to mitigate waste. Speaking of, we as a society are better about the handling of potentially harmful materials or chemicals. Where there may have been a lax attitude as recently as the 1990s, regulations have changed to limit or eliminate harmful waste disposal.

Can You Wash Your Car in Your Driveway?

This isn’t a clear cut answer. Whether or not you can wash your car in your driveway depends on your municipality. Some municipalities have banned the washing of vehicles in residential areas. The ban comes partially because of wasted water but more so because of those harmful chemicals.

If you want to do your own car washing in your driveway, check with your local municipality first. They will clearly outline what you can and cannot do. Washing your vehicle in municipalities where bans are in place can result in fines. The last thing you want is to pay a fine for something that is so simple.

Why Washing Your Car in Your Driveway is a Bad Idea

Even if your municipality allows for the washing of vehicles in residential areas, it may not be the best idea. There are five reasons in particular why these changes have happened. You may want to consider going to a car wash or even partaking in one of those self-serve carwashes. They have the necessary drainage systems to ensure that harmful chemicals do not get into the ground water and cause pollution.

Low Water Pressure

Think about the last time you were at a car wash. The hoses used for the car wash are of the high-pressure variety. Cars need high pressure water in order to get a proper clean. Using a garden hose may give the appearance of a proper clean, but the reality is that it can’t get rid of all the dirt.

Low water pressure is not necessarily bad for the environment, but it can be bad for your car. Small dirt particles can potentially damage the paint and scratch your car. Instead of buying a high-pressure hose, you can take it through your local car wash and have it done professionally.

More Water Used

One of the primary reasons that it is now illegal to wash your car in your driveway in some areas is because of water usage. At home, you typically use your hose and a bucket of soapy water. Even if you turn the water off when you are not directly using it, it will use roughly twice as much water as a car wash.

So, while they may cost a little more than doing the job yourself, there are savings to be had with a car wash. Those savings come in the form of water used. Besides, that wash will cost you when your water bill comes around.

Wasted Water

We focused on the fact that more than twice the amount of water is used at home as at a car wash. That is the first problem. When you wash your car at home, any car that isn’t hitting your vehicle is going to waste.

Car washes are required to have more efficient drainage and recycling options. The water that s used to wash your car has been collected and recycled for future use. Though it may not seem like it, your local car wash is infinitely more efficient and eco-friendly than washing your car in the driveway.


This may come as a surprise, but cleaning your car has a negative impact on the environment in a few ways. The first is that dirt is not the only thing being removed from your car. Coolant, gasoline, oils, and other fluids that can be on or in your vehicle can come off.

These chemicals are not harmful to your car, but they can be to the local environment or wildlife that comes into contact. That is not even mentioning the fact that when you wash these things down the drain, they can potentially get into the local ground water.

Do You Need a Brick and Stone Floor Contractor?

Get free, zero-commitment quotes from pro contractors near you.

Potentially Harmful Soap

There are environmentally friendly soaps out there but not everyone uses them. While soap may be thought of as a good thing because they clean your car, they could be bad for the environment as well. Soap at a car wash is not only specifically designed for vehicles, it has far less contaminants and chemicals within.

There are even some people who use dish soap to save a few bucks. Not only is that potentially harmful to the environment, but it can be harmful to your vehicle as well. It can fade the color over time and strip the wax off of the paint. Make sure that you are using soap that has been specifically created for washing cars. Some of those soaps are also eco-friendly, meaning you can wash your car without worrying about harming the environment.

Ryan Womeldorf
Ryan Womeldorf

Ryan Womeldorf has more than a decade of experience writing. He loves to blog about construction, plumbing, and other home topics. Ryan also loves hockey and a lifelong Buffalo sports fan.

More by Ryan Womeldorf