What is the average amount of water used to wash a car?

A car gets doused as it goes through a car wash

Average Water Demands for a Car Wash

We might take car washes for granted as a part of life. But if you stop to think about it, that’s a lot of water being used. What’s the average amount of water used in a car wash?

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The amount of water used in a car wash depends on the car wash method utilized:

  • Friction in-bay automatic systems use approximately 35 gallons per vehicle.
  • In-bay automatics that employ the high-pressure touchless method use 70 gallons per vehicle.
  • The tunnel wash, with its multitude of high-pressure applicator gizmos, can use 120 gallons of water per vehicle.
  • At-home car washes tend to use 100 gallons or more per vehicle.

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Do car washes recycle water?

While the above figures seem like an awful lot of water, the good news is that car washes typically utilize water reclamation systems that are installed to help limit the waste and cost of the water. For a not-too-sizable investment, a car wash can install a system that allows it to reclaim and recycle 75% of the vehicle wash water.

This kind of technology, along with regulations, help commercial car washes conserve much more water than, for example, an at-home wash in the driveway.

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How much water does a carwash use per day, month and year?

Using the numbers above, we can calculate about how much water a carwash utilizes per day:

  • A high-volume in-bay site can average 100 cars a day, so that equals 3,500 gallons per day, 105,000 gallons per month, and 1.26 million gallons per year.
  • An in-bay automatic wash that employees the high-pressure touchless method and gets 100 cars per day will be using 7,000 gallons a day, 210,000 a month, and 2.52 million per year.
  • A tunnel car wash that washes 400 cars per day would be using 48,000 gallons per day, 1.44 million gallons per month, and more than 17 million gallons a year.
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