Divert Pressure Wash Water

Keep Our Creeks Safe for Fish, People and Pets

Pressure wash waste water is a public health hazard. When you pressure wash, dirt, metals, oils, paint, and cleaners are carried away with the wash water. If wash water enters a storm drain or ditch, it will carry those pollutants directly to the nearest creek, lake, or Bellingham Bay.

Divert Pressure Wash Water to a Sink, Lawn or Landscaping

Before washing

  • Absorb oil spots with kitty litter (or another absorbent) and sweep it up
  • Sweep up trash, debris and dirt
  • Plan a method for disposing of your waste water
  • Call us for help or to borrow a kit to help you divert the waste water
  • Set up berms to divert or block water from storm drains

While washing

  • Use less water: the more you use the more you move
  • Avoid hazardous cleaners (such as those containing bleach, hydrofluoric acid, muriatic acid, sodium hydroxide, etc.)
  • Use a sump pump or wet vacuum to collect the waste water.
  • Water without cleaners may be discharged to a lawn or landscaped area where the water can soak into the ground without running off

After washing

  • Dump waste water into a utility sink or private sewer cleanout


  • Never dump waste water on streets, pavement, into storm drains or ditches. This can result in a water quality violation
  • Never pressure wash lead-based paint
  • Protect your septic by not dumping pressure waste water into your system

Pressure Washing Flyer (PDF)

Avoid Chemical Cleaners

Soap or chemical cleaners are usually not needed for a thorough cleaning; water pressure is enough. If you must use a cleaner, use a less toxic cleaner, such as the following:

  • 2 cups mild, phosphorous-free laundry detergent
  • 1/2 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice

Redirect Roof Downspouts

When pressure washing roofs, redirect downspouts to vegetated areas or temporarily block the downspouts entirely and collect the water for proper disposal in the sanitary sewer.  Reconnect your downspouts when you are finished washing.  When using chemicals for moss removal, make sure the chemicals do not enter the storm system, store containers inside, and dispose of leftover materials at Disposal of Toxics.