Evaluate and Refine Your Car Wash Water Quality for Superior Vehicle Cleaning and Equipment Longevity

Mar 27, 2023




by Steven Watson, Territory Chemical Sales Manager, Howco Inc.

It is an often-cited fact that water is Earth’s most precious resource. What is perhaps lesser known is the importance of water quality in car washing, as water’s composition affects its reaction and collaboration with wash chemicals and processes. Desirable water quality is vital in achieving optimal car wash performance and results.  

For example, car washes with hard water, which contains excess minerals such as calcium and magnesium, may find it difficult to clean cars effectively and get the best performance from detergents and presoaks. Hard water can react adversely to certain car cleaning chemical components. Rather than cooperating with hard water, these cleaning components unsuccessfully fight the excess minerals and are consumed in the process. As a result, the amount of soap used may need to be increased to clean cars properly.

Further, hard water can cause soap scum to build up on surfaces, corrode and clog nozzles, and even prohibit an effective drying process. It also promotes buildup of scale on plumbing fixtures and equipment, affecting maintenance frequency and longevity.

Reversing hard water effects usually requires the addition of water softeners, which utilize sodium to remove excess calcium and magnesium. Softer water is preferable, as it bonds effectively with car wash chemicals.

Both municipal water supplies and wells can deliver hard water. It essentially depends on the geography of the supply and its naturally occurring minerals. Multi-unit car wash operators should evaluate and address each store separately, as water supplies can vary even within the same area.

The mineral makeup of water is closely linked to its pH, the measure of acidity or alkalinity. A water supply’s pH can be influenced by industrial activity in the area, such as power plants or mining operations. Extremes at either end of the pH scale can lead to issues such as corrosion and water toxicity.  

Particles in water, measured as TDS (total dissolved solids), lend themselves to vehicle spotting as well as overwork of filtration systems. A reverse osmosis (RO) system may be needed to remove excess impurities.

Howco performs complimentary multiple-source, on-site water testing, including measurement of pH and TDS, and sends samples to a professional laboratory and our equipment manufacturers. This can take place before building a car wash and/or prior to setting up the chemistry program.

The more car wash operators know about the quality and composition of each unit’s water, the better they can adjust their plan and process for chemical and equipment efficacy and longevity, with consummate car washing results.  

Please call on a Howco Chemical Representative for an in-depth evaluation of your water quality, its crucial effect on your wash operation, and a personalized car wash chemistry solution.