As environmental challenges continue to evolve, the world needs to adapt to overcome them. Whether it's shrinking resources or climate change, it affects us all. But while we face these obstacles in our personal lives, they also impact businesses. And the fleet washing industry is no exception.

At Hydro-Chem Systems, we strive to be the complete solution for fleet managers and mobile washers across the country. That includes understanding the environmental challenges at all levels of the industry.

Here are some of the most important environmental trends and factors the fleet washing and industrial cleaning industries need to be aware of.

Water treatment and reclamation

Water is a critical element of any industrial cleaning operation. Whether you're washing inside a building or outside in a truck parking lot, you should follow the Clean Water Act (CWA). This includes blocking any wash-water runoff from entering water streams and storm drains.

You can do this by combining water recovery systems with diversion systems to block off drains. Alternatively, you can use trenches or reclaim systems for buildings and automated truck washes. Specific requirements may vary depending on your location and it’s important to research and understand any additions or differences.

Environmentally friendly cleaning processes

A 2-step touchless washing process is one of the most environmentally friendly chemical cleaning processes. The 2-step wash process combines high and low pH detergents to remove dirt, road film, salt, and bugs from the vehicle surface. The difference between pH levels help to neutralize the surface resulting in a near-neutral runoff product.

This can also help mitigate the spread of diseases and viruses, like bird flu, that threaten the farming industry. The demand for these biosecurity cleaning facilities mitigate and reduce the spread of environmental exposures.

Water usage and conservation

As many areas of North America continue to experience drought or limited access to usable water supplies, it’s important to consider the amount of water needed for fleet and industrial cleaning operations. Whether you’re washing with a bucket and a brush, or using an automatic drive thru wash system, water is fundamental and applies to nearly every cleaning process. 

Here is what the fleet washing industry is doing to help conserve more water:

  1. Quicker rinsing detergents that require less water.
  2. Detergents that create more dwell time for effective cleaning.
  3. Concentrated detergents that can dilute further.
  4. Lower water cleaning equipment alternatives like steam cleaning and dry ice blasting (for very specific cleaning needs).

Eco-friendly detergents

Many states and corporations are adopting new standards for detergent and chemical use. This has resulted in more chemicals labeled as biodegradable, phosphate-free, “greener cleaners,” PFAS, EPA Safer Choice, and California Prop-65 compliant.

While all HCS detergents are biodegradable and phosphate-free, other documentation and requirements for compliance may be necessary depending on location.

Hazardous materials and ingredients

Separate from those topics listed above, there are different types of raw materials and ingredients that can be present in detergents with varying levels of hazardous classifications. In some instances, fleet and industrial cleaning detergents can be far more efficient and cost-effective when they contain aggressive hazardous materials. 

However, some trends are shifting towards seeking safer, less hazardous detergents aimed at:

  1. Safety for employees.
  2. Reduced corporate liability.
  3. Difficulty in performing proper training and awareness.
  4. Proper transportation practices and delivery options.

Combustion engines and emissions.

Recently, regulators implemented new laws to govern the sale and use of gasoline combustion engines in a variety of outdoor power equipment, including pressure washers. While California is the first state to do this, beginning with the California Air Resources Board, or CARB, many states have similar legislation pending, which could continue to impact the sale of gas powered pressure washers.

Based on restrictions of this equipment, chemical detergents and cleaning technology will have to evolve. Additionally, businesses will likely have to buy compliant cleaning equipment and update their practices to meet current environmental standards.

Electric vehicles and battery powered zero emission equipment (ZEE)

The trend of electric fleets seems to have increased over the years, up 5-fold from 2020. This has increased the urgency to update cleaning practices. This extends to other battery-powered vehicles, and even pressure washing equipment. The industry will have to adapt their operations and processes as technology continues to change and advance.

Efficient and cost-effective cleaning detergents

We have all experienced rising costs and inflation in just about every area of our lives. Whether it's electricity, water, gas stations - and even materials for truck wash soap. This has forced the industry to think of more efficient and cost-effective processes. 

Reducing labor costs for fleet/industrial cleaning could include:

  1. Shortening wash times with efficient cleaning processes.
  2. Reducing labor costs with efficient cleaning equipment.
  3. Controlling detergent costs by purchasing in bulk, considering more concentrated solutions, blending from manufacture kits, or utilizing chemical metering systems.


Hydro-Chem Systems regularly holds sessions with R&D Committees, Product Innovation Groups, and attends industry conferences to ensure issues related to environmental trends and other factors are on the forefront. As circumstances evolve, we strive to adapt to ensure fleet washing and industrial cleaning services can still be regularly performed while reducing our environmental footprint.


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