Sparesbox Blog

Water Restrictions and Car Washing – Know the Rules

By Linda Quan

Mon Jan 13 2020

After a disastrous start to summer, much of Australia has been placed on level 2 water restrictions. Under the increasingly stringent water restrictions, hosing of hard surfaces is not permitted unless in an emergency and cars can only be washed using a bucket or at a commercial car wash operating on water recycling systems.

Individuals who are caught breaking the law will be hit with a $220 fine, while businesses may be slapped with a $550 fine.

So, what can you do to keep your car clean during water restrictions? Here is what you need to know about water restrictions and car washing.

Can I Wash My Car During Water Restrictions?

Yes – but the rules are not the same. The amount of water that is permitted to be used and the way that vehicles are washed during water restrictions will depend on the level of water restrictions in place.

The rules listed below are specific to NSW. While the water restriction rules remain largely consistent across most states and territories, it’s important to check your state government website for details and up to date information about water restrictions in your area.

Cleaning Your Car During Level 1 Water Restrictions:

Permitted:

  • Cars, trucks, vans, motorbikes and caravans can be cleaned using a trigger nozzle or high-pressure cleaning material
  • Vehicles can be washed using a sponge and bucket
  • Vehicles can be washed at commercial car wash facilities

Not Permitted:

  • During stage 1 water restrictions cars cannot be cleaned with a hose that is not fitted with a trigger nozzle or high-pressure cleaning system

 

Cleaning Your Car During Level 2 Water Restrictions:

Permitted:

  • Cars, trucks, vans, motorbikes and caravans can be washed using a sponge and bucket
  • Vehicles can be washed at commercial car wash facilities that use recycled water systems

Not Permitted:

  • Hosing of any kind even if the hose is fitted with a trigger nozzle
  • Cleaning your vehicle with a high-pressure cleaner device that uses drinking water
  • Leaving hoses and taps running and unattended

 

Cleaning Your Car During Level 3 Water Restrictions:

Permitted

  • Vehicles can be washed at commercial car wash facilities that use recycled water
  • Waterless car wash shampoo

Not Permitted

  • Hosing of any kind even if the hose is fitted with a trigger nozzle
  • Leaving hoses and taps running and unattended

 

How to Clean Your Car During Water Restrictions

Keeping your car clean during water restrictions may seem like an impossible task, however, there are a few things that you can do to keep your vehicle in good nick without breaking the law or the bank. With that in mind, here are a few ways that you can keep your car clean during water restrictions:

1. The Rain Wash

Ever seen someone outside washing their car when it’s raining. We get it, it looks a little ridiculous. However, during water restrictions, washing your car when it is raining is one of the most effective ways to give your vehicle a wash and rinse without using your tap.

In general, it’s not a good idea to wash your car when it is raining if you are concerned with water spots or a perfect finish. However, desperate times call for desperate measures.

One of the main benefits of washing your car in the rain is that you do not need to pre-rinse your car before moving onto the shampoo stage. Granted, you may not get those tough to move bug and tar marks with a gentle rain shower, but it is still a better alternative than leaving them there for the warmer days to come.

Once you’ve lathered your car in a layer of shampoo with your wash mitt, the rain will help to rinse your car as you go. It may not be the most-effective wash that you ever do, however, washing your car in the rain during water restrictions is a simple way to do your bit for the environment and preserve our precious water supply.

The best part? The rain wash is permissible at every stage of water restriction. No matter how dire the situation becomes, when the rain starts falling – you can legally wash your vehicle.

 

2. Single Bucket Car Wash Method

The single bucket car wash is the most environmentally sound way to wash your vehicle from home during water restrictions. For those not familiar with the single bucket car wash method, here is what you need to do:

  1. Move your vehicle out of direct sunlight
  2. Fill up a bucket with car wash liquid and water
  3. Dunk your mitt into the bucket of car wash liquid and water
  4. Wipe away all of the dirt & grime using the mitt and dunking the dirty mitt into the same bucket to reduce the build-up of grime
  5. Repeat until the entire vehicle is covered in suds

 

3. The Two Bucket Car Wash Method

The two-bucket car wash method is an effective and environmentally sound way to wash your car during water restrictions. The two-bucket method is essentially the same as the single bucket method mentioned above – with one very important difference. A second bucket of ‘clean water’ is used to rinse the sponge in-between wiping down the vehicle. The second bucket helps to reduce the build-up of grime while washing the vehicle and gives a much cleaner finish.

  1. Move your vehicle out of direct sunlight
  2. Fill up a bucket with car wash liquid and water
  3. Fill up a second bucket of clean water (does not need to be completely full)
  4. Dunk your mitt into the bucket of car wash liquid and water
  5. Wipe away all of the dirt & grime using the mitt and dunking the dirty mitt into the same bucket to reduce the build-up of grime
  6. Dunk the mitt in the second bucket to remove the build-up of grime on the mitt while washing the vehicle
  7. Repeat until the entire vehicle is covered in suds