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  Caring and Maintaining Your Car
Clean Water Home Best Management Practices Home
Rinse water from car washing and brake or engine cleaning can harm wildlife if it enters a storm drain.
  • DO use a commercial car wash that recycles water or discharges it directly to the sewer for treatment at the local wastewater plant.
  • DO wash your car on a lawn, gravel driveway, or area where soapy water will not run into a street or storm drain.
  • DO use soap sparingly if you must wash your car at home – even biodegradable soap is toxic to wildlife.
  • DO pour your bucket of soapy water down the sink when you’re done.
  • DO use paper towels to wipe brake dust off wheels before washing.
  • DON’T use spray-on wheel cleaners – or rinse them off – where rinse water might flow to a street or storm drain.
When you’re working on your car, remember that any drips or spills left in a street or driveway can flow to a storm drain and on to the Bay!
  • DO use plastic tarp and drip pans when your car is leaking, and when you’re working on it. Fix leaks as soon as possible!
  • DO use sawdust or cat litter for spills. Sweep it up, bag it and put it in the trash. For large spills, use a squeegee and dust pan first.
  • DON’T hose down your work area!
Most brake pads contain copper, which wears off as the pads wear, and contributes significant amounts of toxic stormwater pollution to our creeks and Bay. DO clean brake dust off of wheels with paper towels, and dispose of towels in the trash.
  • DO ask your auto parts supplier about no-copper or low-copper brake pads for your car.
  • DON’T clean wheels, brakes, or brake pads where brake pad dust, cleaners, or rinse water can flow to a street or storm drain.
Many engine degreasers contain highly toxic solvents that are dangerous to work with and harmful to the environment.
  • DO read labels carefully before you buy. Avoid products containing Tricholoroethane or tricholoroethylene, Naphtha, Nonylphenol ethoxylate.
  • DO use rags instead of water when you’re cleaning.
  • DO use non-flammable, more biodegradable alternatives to highly toxic degreasers. Try limonene (a citrus-based solvent). Put any rinse water down a sink or toilet – never into a storm drain.
  • DON’T clean your engine at home unless you can contain and properly dispose of the rinse water – a hazardous waste.