River-friendly Car Washing

River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash program - Sacramento River image

carwash sign

Did you know that soapy water from a carwash (often carrying dirt, grease, and other pollutants) may cause harm to fish and other aquatic life in our creeks and rivers?​​

The River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash Program was developed to provide guidance and help facilitate successful fundraiser carwashes while protecting local creeks and rivers from the pollution that can be carried in the wastewater from carwashing activities.

The Problem

When you wash your car in the driveway, pollutants from dirty water such as detergent, motor oil, gas, and residue from exhaust fumes wash off cars and make their way into nearby storm drains. These pollutants flow through the storm drain system and drain into local creeks and rivers, without going through treatment. The pollutants that end up flowing into creeks and rivers may end up harming fish and other wildlife.

Fundraiser Carwash Tips

The following practices can help protect our creeks and rivers:

  • Take your car to a commercial carwash. Most commercial car wash facilities recycle water or are connected to the sanitary sewer system that will treat dirty water.
  • Wash your car on a grass or gravel surface to filter runoff
  • Consider using environmentally-friendly products labeled “non-toxic”, “phosphate free” and “biodegradable.”
  • Conserve water by using a spray nozzle with an automatic shut off or shutting off the hose when not in use.
  • Use a bucket of soapy water to re-soap rags or sponges throughout the wash rather than adding more soap directly to rags or sponges. Always empty buckets of dirty wash water onto landscaped areas (where the water cannot reach a storm drain) or into sinks or toilets.

River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash Program Copyright/Disclaimer​​ and ​​Availability of Alternate Text Format​.



carwash bucketGet Started!

Fundraiser Groups ​

  • Find a River-Friendly Partner for your next fundraiser carwash

Carwash Hosts

  • Commercial carwashes, businesses, parks and school Districts register as a River-Friendly Fundraiser Carwash Partner​​​