Car and Pressure Washing

Stormwater is rain or snow that falls on our roads, parking lots and rooftops that is not absorbed into the ground. Contrary to popular belief, anything that makes its way into a storm drain (a.k.a. catch basin) goes straight to the nearest waterway (creek/bay) with little or no treatment. Water from pressure washing or washing your car contains several pollutants that can flow into local water bodies if not properly diverted. Along with soaps and cleaners, metals, paint, oils, and other substances cause water pollution and harm wildlife. That’s why it’s important to make sure only rain water goes into our storm drains and ditches.

Best Practices

Car Washing

  • Commercial car wash: bring your car to a commercial car wash where they are required to collect and treat wastewater. 
  • At home on a pervious surface: wash your car on a lawn or pervious surface that can soak up wastewater away from waterways (including storm drains). 
  • At home using our “Washing at Home” kit: use this kit to prevent water from running down a storm drain or into a water way. See kit details below.
Person pressure washing a house

Pressure Washing

  • At home using the “Washing at Home” kit: you must collect all waste water and prevent it from running down a storm drain or into a water way. Keep areas clean by: 
    • Sweeping to prevent extra debris buildup
    • Cleaning any spilled materials on the ground and disposing of them (use absorbents properly) 

Outdoor "Washing at Home" Kit

Our outdoor “Washing at Home” kit can help you divert polluted water away from storm drains and ditches and to a pervious surface or sewer system, so you can wash your car and pressure wash without polluting.  

How It Works: 

  1. If you want to rent the “Washing at Home Kit” fill out the rental request form.
  2. Once we receive your request, we will contact you to set up a site visit. During the site visit, we will identify the utilities in your area.
  3. We will show you how the kit works, make suggestions for your particular site, and have you sign the rental agreement form. 
  4. Whatcom County staff will provide the kit for you to use during your allotted rental time. Staff will not be present during your rental time, so it is important that you follow the protocols in the agreement form according to Whatcom County Municipal Code 16.36.050.
  5. Make sure the kit is clean and dry before you return it. 
Washing at Home kit items


Local Commercial Car Wash Locations

Whatcom County has several commercial car wash locations. Click here for a list of Whatcom County car wash locations.   

Car Wash Fundraiser Alternatives

While car wash fundraisers are popular and fun, they can also cause unnecessary water pollution. While using our outdoor “Washing at Home” kit can divert polluted water, washing several cars at a time may overwhelm the system. To avoid unnecessary pollution and hassle, here are some alternative fundraising ideas:

  • Car Wash Tickets: purchase discounted commercial car wash tickets and sell them 
  • Walk-a-Thon: ask people to pledge a certain amount for each lap walked 
  • Read-a-Thon: ask people to pledge a certain amount per book read 
  • Garage Sale: collect unwanted items from home and sell them
  • Clothing Drive: collect used clothing and sell them to a redistributer

Contact Information

For more questions contact Whatcom County Public Works: (360) 778-6230

City of Bellingham Information: