Idaho car wash customers quadruple after dust storm


Half of Idaho is in a severe drought, according to the Idaho Department of Water Resources. It has many wondering if a car wash is a good use of the water supply.

BOISE, Idaho — The line doesn’t seem to stop at BlueBird Car Wash. For the last two days, rigs continuously roll through without pause.

Nearly all of them are covered in their entirety with dirt from the Monday dust storm.

“People have been texting me saying this must be a car wash’s dream,” BlueBird Founder and President John Fery said. “To say demand tripled or quadrupled might be an understatement at this point.”

This comes as half the state is a severe drought condition, according to the Idaho Department of Water Resources (IDWR). The drought conditions will worsen and become more widespread in the coming weeks, according to IDRW predictions.

The department expects water shortages in every southern Idaho basin.

“As customers, we all have to make smart choices with the resources that we have,” Fery said.

With concerns over water usage and conservation, it is common for newer car washes to recycle and reuse water, according to Fery. The degree of water reclamation efforts varies from car wash to car wash.

Looking at BlueBird specifically, they have three large underground tanks collecting and filtering the water for reuse. Some water is lost into the sewer system through his process. A little more than 20 gallons are lost per vehicle.

For context, the average garden hose uses around 60 gallons every 5 minutes. This means a commercial car wash utilizing a water reclamation system can save water over an at-home car wash.

“If you’re really fast, you might be able to wash your car in 5 minutes, likely not,” Fery said.

The International Car Wash Association awards car washes committed to water conservation with a “WaterSavers” credential.

For a commercial drive-thru car washes like BlueBird to qualify for WaterSavers, the car wash cannot lose more than 40 gallons per car. A car wash must requalify for the credential on an annual basis.

Anyone interested in using a car wash near them should check their website for any sustainability and water conservation efforts, Fery said. It’s also a good idea to call and ask if they qualify for WaterSavers if they don’t mention it online.

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