Is washing cars at home allowed?

Although washing vehicles at home is allowed with some measures in place, Santa Rosa Water recommends taking all cars to a professional car wash for a few reasons. One reason is to save water -a professional car wash uses less water per car than a home car wash with the hose running. The second reason is that wash water has the potential to transport materials attached to the vehicle such as soap, metal shavings from brake dust and rotors, vehicle fluids (engine oil, antifreeze, transmission fluid) and road contaminants to the storm drain. These can be harmful to water quality and creek habitats. 

If you wash at home, and have considered alternative discharge methods, such as discharging to the sewer, and those are not possible, the following practices are recommended: 

  • A hose end shut off nozzle is required on all hoses 
  • Wash in an area where the water can infiltrate the ground, such as a vegetated or landscaped area (such as a lawn or permeable pavers). 
  • Pumps, vacuums, or physical routing may be used to direct runoff to the sewer, landscape, or other areas for infiltration or re-use. 
  • Practices that minimize runoff, such as using a bucket and sponge to contain fluids should be implemented. 

If you see someone washing their car at home, please share these tips or direct them to for more information. 

Show All Answers

1. What does a 20% mandatory reduction in water use mean?
2. What is the 20% reduction target timeline compared to?
3. Why do we continue to allow new building and development during a water shortage?
4. Does the City of Santa Rosa provide water to wineries and other agricultural interests?
5. How do I request an exemption or variance from a water use prohibition or restriction?
6. How is the City of Santa Rosa responding to the regional drought emergency?
7. How do I cut back my water use if I'm already efficient with my water use?
8. What is considered efficient water use?
9. Is the City of Santa Rosa enforcing any water use prohibitions?
10. How can I figure out how much water I use?
11. How does the City enforce the prohibition on water waste?
12. How do I report water waste?
13. Is washing cars at home allowed?
14. How will my water bill be affected by the drought?
15. What resources are available to help me reduce my water use?
16. What will happen if we do not get rain this coming winter?
17. How are other cities affected by the current drought?
18. Where can I find additional information?