Hosepipe bans are due to be imposed in southern and eastern England from 5 April – even though washing a car with a hose is up to four times more efficient than using a bucket.
That was the shock finding of an Auto Express investigation, and it shows that advice from the authorities and water companies is misleading.
According to figures from Waterwise – an independent, not-for-profit organisation that works with the UK water industry and sits on the environment minister’s Water Saving Group – washing a car with a hose uses 300 litres of water. But in our experiment, it took only 30 litres to clean a small family hatchback with a hose.
The reason for the discrepancy is simple: official figures assume motorists leave the water running constantly for 30 minutes.
For our test we did what most drivers do when washing their cars, and fitted a cheap jet nozzle that only allows water to flow when the trigger is pressed.
Thanks to the pressure it generates, the jet not only controls water output, it cleans the car more effectively than random splashes from a bucket – which took a far more wasteful 110 litres.
Even so, motorists using a hose to clean their car during a ban face a fine of £1,000 – despite the fact they’re being more efficient.
How water usage compares…
Usage: 35 litres
Pressure washer maker Hozelock told us one of its products would use
just 35 litres to clean a Ford Focus-sized car.
Usage: 120 litres
A car wash gets through 120 litres, according to supplier WashTec, but can also recycle to use just 20 litres of new water.
Usage: 30 litres
Fixing a jet nozzle enables motorists to wash their car with a mere 30 litres of water.
Usage: 110 litres
To get a decent result from a bucket takes more than 100 litres, our test found.