Is It Illegal To Wash Your Car In California 2024?

One morning, you could wake up and be disgusted at the sight of your car. The dust that sits pretty on it clearly pisses you off but you’re not ready to take the car to the carwash yet because there’s just no convenient time for it or for you to add it to your schedule.

Then, a bright idea pops in your head to wash your car by yourself in your garage. While residents of other states in the US can casually do that, you should remember that you’re in California. Hence, there might be local laws that either prohibits or restricts you from washing your car.

Is It Illegal To Wash Your Car In California

To avoid getting into trouble with the authorities, it would help to discover what the local laws say about DIY washing your car yourself. Curious to find out? Let’s dive in.


Is It Illegal To Wash Your Car In California

Actually, washing your car in California is legal and there is no law that goes against this per say but there are some restrictions that you should be aware of and we will discuss as regards washing of car in California.

first is the pollution aspect and secondly the water management aspect.

Water pollution aspect :

Do you know that your car could be a source of pollution to water bodies? You can ask how? Well the government has come to realise that washing of cars is a pollution problem because the wash water often contains automotive fluid, paint and also metal which if allowed could flow down into gutter with the soapy water and Our beaches could get polluted and aquatic animals could die off.

But while washing your car there are precautions to take. Like for example, while washing your car, you should be careful about the wash water, make sure that you wash your car on your lawn or over a landscaped area where water could be absorbed easily,

by so doing you are limiting the amount of water that goes into the runway. If you aren’t washing in the landscaped area then you should ensure that the water are properly channel to this area where it will be absorbed rather than allow it flow freely into the gutter.

Another way to limit this pollution or wash water flowing into the gutter is by using a rag and bucket to clean your car, this is one of the best way to prevent water from flowing into the gutter.

Allowing your soapy water that contains pollutant flow into the gutter is illegal as there is every chances that you can be fined for allowing the wash water flow into the stream or into the street to pollute the stream.

The Government is doing everything possible to protect our natural environment and it won’t be nice to allow water that contains oil, grease and other pollutant enter into the stream which can cause great harm to aquatic animals in the water.

Next time when you are washing your car , just ensure that the water is channelled properly and not into the street, gutter.

Additionally, it is best you check more information on local laws because there are chances that some cities in California may have specific laws or regulations that addresses this same issue.

Take for instance the city of San Diego, it is a violation of theMunicipal code §43.0304 if you deliberately allow water that contains
paint, chemical, debris, oils, sediment and other harmful chemicals into the storm drain. More also You could pay a fine of up to 1000$ per incident if you allow water that contains pollutants into the storm drain.

Finally are you into washing of car for business? If yes then you have to get your car washing business registered with the Labor Commissioner and comply with all requirements.

Water management aspects :

The fact that California has faced drought a few times, this might quickly make you wonder if it’s against the law to wash your car by yourself in California .

After all, every law that’ll be enacted would be fueled towards preventing water wastage. So, if you’ll water your yard, you had to be mindful of how much water you use. It can make you wonder if DIY washing your car in your garage is legal and that’s fine, we’ve got you covered.

Following the recurring drought in the whole of California, there’s been ban or restriction on residents washing their car at home.

The reason is, the Government of California devised water saving rules to help the country out of its drought season.

Depending on the state or city, the water saving rules varied. In places like San Jose, the government completely banned residents from washing their cars at home during period of draughts. But generally, residents were allowed to wash their cars at home but they had to use shutoff nozzles to manage water.

Can you get fined for washing your Car in California?

Yes you can get fined for deliberately allowing water that contains harmful chemicals such as paint, grease, soap and other hazardous materials from your car into the gutter which could flow into storm drain before flowing into the stream.

Secondly you could get fined if you deliberately allow water into the side walk and public street because when this type of water are released it becomes a safety hazard to pedestrians.

How to avoid this fine is to simply wash your car at a car wash where they know how best to handle this water or at your property and if it is your property you choose to wash your car you should not allow the water run into the gutter and it is highly recommended you make use of hose with a shut-off nozzle to minimize water waste.

Fine During the draught

During the recurring drought, the Water Resources Control Board in California put certain water saving rules in place. However, they understood the fact that not all citizens of California are law abiding.

As a result, they devised a way to force residents into obeying the water saving rules set up by the Water Resources Control Board in California.

This rule imposed a fine of $500 in 2014. So, if you were caught watering your sidewalk or washing your car without the shut-off nozzle to manage water, you won’t be arrested, but you’ll be made to pay a fine of $500 to the state. Although it might seem cruel, but it was simply a measure to drastically reduce water wastage in California.

Is it okay to wash your car in your driveway?

In California specifically washing your car in the drive is legal and there is no issue concerning this matter but the only way you could run into problems with the state is only when you fails to adhere to state ordinances that regulate car washing which says your wash water should be handled properly in such a way it didn’t get into the gutter and by extension find it way in to the stream.

It is also important to be mindful of the equipment you use to wash your car. Expert on this issue has always recommended the use of a hose with a shut-off nozzle as this will help minimise the amount of soapy water being released in to the environment.

Secondly the state government recommends washing of cars on places where the area are grassy because large amount of this water get absorbed by grasses or into the land.

Things to note about washing of car in California :

  • While there are no laws that prevent washing of cars for non commercial purposes.
  • It is important you place more emphasis on how you handle the water waste.
  • Soapy water from car contains grease, chemicals, paint and other metals that are not environmental friendly.
  • Don’t allow the water run to the gutter, storm drain.
  • Try make use of a hose with a shut-off nozzle to help conserve water.
  • You can also use rag and bucket to clean your car. I find this very helpful.

Can you wash your car on your lawn?

The best place to wash your car at home is to wash it on your lawn especially when you are using a biodegradable soap, by doing so you won’t kill the grass and you will also have all the water trapped by the grass and non of the water will flow into the gutter.

To be sure you aren’t breaking the law still check local laws in your area.