How “Green” Is Your Car Wash?

BY: Kelly MacDowell |Jul 13, 2015
How “Green” Is Your Car Wash?

As members of a desert community, Tucson residents are all too familiar with conserving water, whether that means taking shorter showers, frequently checking for leaks, or insulating their pipes. It’s not just Arizona residents who are cutting down on their water usage, though. Many a Tucson car wash is expected to implement eco-friendly measures as well, chief among them systems for retaining water.

Of course, water conservation is just part of the picture. If you want to find a green car wash in Tucson, there are several things to look for.

Water Recycling and Waterless Washes

In drought-prone regions such as Tucson, eliminating or minimizing the use of water is a no-brainer. One program that does just that is WaterSavers, an arm of the International Carwash Association that has enrolled nearly 1,500 locations globally (including 13 in Tucson). The program’s criteria include recycling all water used or routing it to a treatment facility or septic field. According to, these measures may result in a water-recovery rate of more than 90%, allowing enrolled businesses to remain open during times of drought.

In recent years, waterless washes have also trickled into the industry. The washes use cleaning products from brands such as Eco Touch that don’t need to be rinsed with water. Instead, the cleansers are simply sprayed on, then wiped off.

Biodegradable and Naturally Derived Products

Eco Touch’s products aren’t just waterless. They’re also derived from natural ingredients—soybeans and palm-kernel oils—and made without solvents, additives, and VOCs, making them more eco-friendly than their synthetic counterparts. Other brands use similar formulas for their exterior and interior cleaning products, too. And car washes that do use water needn’t feel left out, as there are plenty of biodegradable soaps available for them.


It’s not just the washing process you should consider when evaluating the carbon footprint of car washes in Tucson. You should also examine the facilities. Were they constructed with recycled materials? Is there a lot of natural light? Is there a water-collection system?

Green Car Washes in Tucson

  • Mister Car Wash is a member of WaterSavers, and each of its car washes uses nearly three times less water than an at-home wash.
  • Fellow WaterSavers member Surf Thru Express filters 99% of impurities out of its water and uses biodegradable cleansers whenever possible.
  • Octopus Car Wash recycles or treats the 30 gallons of water it uses for each car wash. For context, a home car wash can use upwards of 160 gallons and a load of laundry uses about 45.
  • The cleansers used at Metro Car Wash employ Qual Chem products, which are certified by the EPA.
  • The Magic Touch brings Eco Touch’s waterless products directly to cars in Tucson for a host of mobile detailing services.

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