July is Vehicle and Boat Maintenance Month

This month, our goal is to encourage the community to reduce the amount of water that runs off yards into streets, storm drains, ditches, and streams and eventually makes it way to the Bay. This is known as “runoff” and significantly impairs water quality as the water flow brings sediment and other pollutants into Maunalua Bay untreated.

In 2017, there were more than 11,000 registered boats in the state of Hawai‘i, or about one boat per 128 residents. On O‘ahu alone, there are almost 800,000 cars crammed onto less than 2,000 miles of highway. Honolulu is home to about 400,000 people, almost a third of the state’s population. Just imagine the impact all of those cars and boats, so densely squished together in one corner of one island, have on the surrounding water quality. 

How Does Washing my Vehicle Affect the Bay?

Water that flows from yards and driveways into storm drains and streams is known as runoff, and one of the simplest ways to protect Maunalua Bay is to decrease or eliminate harmful chemicals in the runoff from your home. Used oil, antifreeze, and leaking grease from cars is often swept away with potentially toxic cleaning products and flows untreated into the Bay. Here, the toxic mix contributes to loss of coral, sedimentation and murky water, a decrease in fish life, and the conditions dangerous pathogens like best to spawn and propagate throughout the Bay. 


This month, we’re asking you to think of the Bay when washing your boat or vehicle, and use ecofriendly products in responsible ways.



If you are able, wash your boat or car on a grassy lawn, gravel, or sand. Use biodegradable soap or another alternative to chemical cleaning products, and send us a picture. Use the easy-to-follow guidelines below to make your cleaning day a success!

Perform vehicle maintenance in an area where chemicals and fluids cannot be washed into a storm drain.  
car wash on lawn.jpg
Gravel or grass will filter the water, removing soap, detergents, and residue, decreasing runoff into the ocean.
Use phosphate-free biodegradable soap or waterless cleaning products. 

Biodegradable Products:

Simple Green Car Wash

Gliptone Wash-n-Glow 

Waterless Products:

Aero Waterless Car Wash Wax

McKee's 37 Waterless Wash On the Go





Where to wash your vehicle: grassy lawns!

Find alternatives to your vehicle cleaners!

Wash your car at full-service car washes!

That way, the water is recycled and will not enter into the storm drains. The average homeowner uses 116 gallons of water to wash their car. Commercial car washes are far more efficient: they use up to 60% less water.
Car wash options on O‘ahu  Link

Check for and promptly repair any leaks!

If you find yourself frequently adding more fluid to your car, check for spots that your car leaves underneath and repair leaks. 
To clean these leaks, instead of washing down the area into the streets, use dry absorbent materials like old rags to soak up the liquid and dispose of it in the trash!

Made some changes to your car wash routine? Awesome! Snap a pic and:

Additional Information:

Red car wash sign














Environmentally Friendly Car Washes in the News:

Students at Lahainaluna High School in Maui held an “ocean-friendly” car wash as a fundraiser at which the used water from the car wash was pumped into vegetated areas where it could replenish the groundwater instead of running into the ocean.




Windward Auto Spa in Kaneohe uses solar energy to power their car washes they also use environmentally friendly practices, like collecting and recycling their water.



In 2019, car washes offered discounted services for electric vehicles to celebrate Hawai'i’s transition to sustainable transportation. Look for opportunities like this in the future!




Resources and Activities for Keiki:




Benefits to environmentally friendly vehicle maintenance:


Careful vehicle maintenance reduces the volume of storm water and pollutants entering storm drains. Water quality and personal benefits of environmentally friendly vehicle maintenance include:

•Preventing pollution

•Recharging groundwater

•Conserving water

•Reduced use of harmful chemicals

•Wildlife protection

Washing the Car

Additional Resources

Redirect Your 

Downspout Guide