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Car Wash Industry Regulations

For many entrepreneurs, owning a car wash is a rewarding and financially lucrative experience. As an owner, it is imperative that you pay attention

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red car in car washFor many entrepreneurs, owning a car wash is a rewarding and financially lucrative experience. As an owner, it is imperative that you pay attention to and stay in compliance with the car wash industry regulations.

The Clean Water Act

The Clean Water Act mandates that contaminants and waste products cannot run off to lake or stream water. Your car wash must have water catches to capture the water and filter out contaminants before that water returns to nature. The EPA groups pollutants into three categories:

Non-conventional pollutants: includes chlorine, nitrogen, phosphorous and other chemicals often found in auto detailing products. 

Conventional pollutants: includes oil and grease, often part of the run off from cars being cleaned

Toxic: includes metals, and human-made organic compounds.  


OSHA has regulations to ensure your employees can work in a safe and well-maintained car wash. You need to regularly audit your workplace’s safety. Areas to pay attention to:

  • Slippery conditions: Accumulation of soap, wax and other chemicals on the floor can cause employees to slip and fall.

  • Impaired lines of sight: The improper placement of your equipment can make it difficult for employees to see, and can lead to accidents with cars or other pieces of equipment.

  • Electrical hazards: It should go without saying that exposed wires and improperly installed electrical fixtures do not mix with water, and create a very dangerous environment for your employees.

Additionally, you are required to provide the following:

  • Personal protective equipment: Employers are required to provide protective gear, such as gloves, masks or goggles if they are exposed to situations that can irritate their skin, eyes, nose, etc.
  • Training and hazardous communication: Employers must train and inform employees about the chemicals used.
  • First Aid: Proper first aid measures need to be available and up-to-date.
  • Proper Ventilation: Ventilate your car wash to remove engine exhaust from the air. If that’s not possible, you are required to provide your employees with a respirator.
  • Lockout/Tagout: Employers need to repair, replace and maintain equipment to maintain a safe work environment.

Refer to the following OSHA regulations for a complete list of requirements:

Local Regulations

Depending on which state your car wash is located, you may be subject to rules regarding water and electrical use. Many cities, counties and states have their own regulations. These may include requirements to reclaim water for additional uses, or maintain standards of energy efficiencies.

Because of the efficiency of automated car washes, some areas restrict washing cars in driveways or charity car washes. Additionally, it also reduces the chemical runoff draining into our lakes and rivers.

Questions? We Can Help

If you have any questions about how car wash industry regulations affect your car wash, or how to make your existing car wash more efficient, get in touch today!

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