Mobile Cleaners

Mobile cleaning activities generate significant quantities of washwater as a result of their washing operations at various sites. Washwater can contain dirt, debris, soap, oil, grease, acid solution, solvents, paint chips, metals, and/or food waste. Washwater discharged to the storm drain system contributes to urban runoff pollution. Even "biodegradable" cleaning agents may cause immediate damage to aquatic ecosystems.
All contractors and individuals who perform cleaning operations can apply common sense practices to minimize or eliminate their contribution to stormwater pollution.

 

Online Pollution Prevention Training for Surface Cleaners

 

Documents: Pollution From Surface Cleaning
Spanish version: Contaminación como Resultado de la Limpieza de Superficies

 

Follow these best management practices to prevent pollution, protect public health and avoid fines or legal action. Click on the underlined topic below:
Transportation Related Washing

 

Surface Cleaning

 

Food Related Cleaning

 

Other Mobile Homes, Decks, Roofs/Shingles, Awnings, Residential/Commercial Pool Decks

 

Transportation Related Washing

 

A. Fleet Washing - Exterior Only - removing mainly dirt; with or without soap

No storm drain disposal permitted; must discharge to sanitarty sewer/dirt; some unavoidable evaporation off paved surfaces.

Washwater can not be discharged to the storm drain. For disposal:

 

Best option: Use wash pads that capture the washwater and discharge it to the sanitary sewer. Ideally, a separate wash area should be established that captures the wash water. Or contract cleaner can be use temporary wash pad and pump to sanitary sewer.

2nd option: Seal storm drains. Washwater runoff and excess soapy water must be collected and pumped or otherwise discharged as follows:

  • Best: Sanitary Sewer (Pump into sanitary system clean out/sink or into an onsite private sanitary sewer manhole; verify with the facility manager that it is not a storm drain manhole.)
  • 2nd: Landscaped 1or dirt area (Note: be aware that soapy wash water may adversely affect landscaping. Should be directed onto dirt area sufficiently large enough to contain all the water. Discuss with the building owner.)

 

1For minimal discharge flows only. Repetitive use of the same area or excessive waste volume to the same area may be illegal.

 

If a significant amount of washwater runoff evaporates at the site before it can be collected, and the site is routinely used for this purpose, the paved area itself must be cleaned either before October 15th (the formal beginning of the rainy season) or at the end of the contract (whichever comes first). That water must be captured and discharged to the sanitary.

 

 

B. Engine/ Equipment Degreasing:
Auto/truck drive train cleaning
Engine degreasing
Airplane cleaning, including landing gear

 

With or without soap, no storm drain disposal permitted; requires pre-treatment before discharge to sanitary; should be cleaned on a wash pad; requires discussion with customer's facility operator.

 

Because it is likely that pollutants (esp. petroleum products and metals) are concentrated in these washwaters, the local POTW (Public Owned Treatment Works) will require some type of pre-treatment before discharge to sanitary sewer. Contact the POTW for requirements and additional information. Contact the facility operator regarding wash pad and pre-treatment equipment available on-site (i.e. oil separators, coalesors...). See the yellow pages for distributors.

 

 

C. Mobile Auto Detailing - infrequent, light cleaning, using soap
(rarely at same site; removing mainly dirt; with minimum water volume)

 

Run off:

 

Best option: Minimized runoff may remain on paved surfaces to evaporate. If there is sufficient water volume to reach the storm drain, plug the storm drain and pump the water to the sanitary sewer.

2nd option:Landscaped 1or dirt area (Note: be aware that soapy wash water may adversely affect landscaping. Should be directed onto dirt area sufficiently large enough to contain all the water. Discuss with the building owner.)

 

1For minimal discharge flows only. Repetitive use of the same area or excessive waste volume to the same area may be illegal.

 

Remaining soapy water in bucket:

 

Best option: Should be discharged to sanitary.

2nd option: May be distributed over a dirt area.

 

II. Surface Cleaning

 

A. Sidewalks and Plazas - using soap

Washwater must go to sanitary sewer.

Sweep, collect and dispose of debris and absorbent. The best managment practices in this section do not apply if there has been an oil or other hazardous material spill on the site. In the case of a spill, contact the local fire department for guidance.

 

 

B. Sidewalks and Plazas with no oil deposits - no soap

Sweep, collect and dispose of debris. Washwater may go to storm drain.

 

 

C. Sidewalks, Plazas, Driveways, Drive-through Window Areas with light oil, frequently cleaned - no soap

Sweep, collect and dispose of debris. Dry clean oil spots with absorbent and dispose of absorbent as garbage. Place oil absorbent boom around storm drain. Washwater may go to storm drain through an oil-absorbent boom. No oil sheen should be visible on the water flowing into the storm drain.

 

 

D. Drive-throughs, Driveways, Parking Garages, Service Stations with excess oil deposits - with or without soap; not frequently cleaned

Seal storm drains. Sweep, collect and dispose of debris. Dry clean oil spots with absorbent and dispose of absorbent in a legal manner. Vacuum/pump washwater to sanitary. Washwater disposal options should be discussed with the facilities operator/site manager. Best to discharge through an oil/water separator. One may be available at the site, however, do not use an oil/water separator intended to capture cooking oil. Check your local yellow pages fo a list of oil/water separator distributors. Pre-treatment may not be required, but contact the local POTW (Public Owned Treatment Works) for more information. If there has been an oil spill, contact the local fire department for guidance.

 

 

E. Building Exteriors and Walls

Note: If soap is used, washwater must not go to the storm drain. All debris must be kept out of storm drains.

 

Glass and Steel Buildings - no soap used


Best option: Direct washwater runoff to dirt/landscaped areas.


2nd option: Discharge directly to storm drain. We recommend that you seal the drain with a fabric filter to capture the dirt in the washwater.

 

 

Painted Buildings with paint job in good shape - no soap used


Painted after 1978; i.e. no lead


Best option: Direct washwater runoff to dirt/landscaped areas.


2nd option: Use filter fabric to prevent paint particles from entering storm drain. Washwater may go to storm drain through the filter fabric - never directly. Dispose of collected particles as garbage.

 

Painted Buildings, with lead-based or mercury-additive paint -with or without soap


Seal storm drains and vacuum/pump washwater to a tank. Water and sludge may need to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Consult POTW and local hazardous waste regulators (i.e. County Health or Fire Department).

 

Painted Buildings - to remove paint and clean in preparation for painting -with or without soap
Consult POTW and local hazardous waste regulators (i.e. County Health or Fire Department). These best management practices do not cover the disposal of paint.

 

 

F. Graffiti Removal
Using wet sand blasting

 

Minimzie quantity of water used. Any runoff should be:

 

Best option: Directed to landscaped or dirt area.

2nd option: Filtered through boom to keep sand out of drain.

 

Sweep debris and sand. Dispose of all waste to avoid future runoff contamination.

 

 

G. Masonry Efflorescence using acid wash to remove mineral deposits on masonry

Seal/ block storm drain.

 

Best option: Rinse treated area with alkaline soap and direct rinse water to a landscaped/dirt area.

2nd option: Collect washwater. Neutralize washwater to a pH between 6 and 10. Pump to a sanitary cleanout at the site, into a sink or a toilet, or contact the POTW.

 

 

III. Food-Related Cleaning

 

 

A. Restaurant Alleys, Grocery Dumpster Areas (outdoors)

No discharge allowed to storm drain.

 

Best option: Dry clean only, if possible (e.g. using rags, absorbents, and sweeping debris)

2nd option: Dry clean first. Seal storm drain. Wash area. Vacuum or pump washwater to sanitary sewer. Screen washwater for particles.

 

 

B. Restaurant Cleaning of Floor Mats, Exhaust Filters, etc.

Note: Washing mats outdoors and allowing the washwater to drain to a storm drain is prohibited.

 

Best option: Clean mats, etc. inside building with discharge to sanitary sewer (sink or a floor drain).

 2nd option: Clean mats, etc. outside, in bermed area with a drain that is connected to the sanitary sewer system.

 


C. Kitchen Grease

Kitchen recyclable oil, grease, and meat fat

Save for recycling in tallow bin or other sealed containers. Never pour into a sink, floor drain, or storm drain. Do not contaminate recyclable fats with waste grease from an interceptor or trap. For a list of grease haulers in our area go to the CALFOG website.

Kitchen waste grease from interceptor or trap

Never dispose of waste grease in the storm drain or creek, or into the sanitary sewer system. For a list of grease haulers in our area go to the CALFOG website.

 

 
E. Lunch Wagons/ Food Carts

Washwater must be discharged at a commissary equipped to accept and discharge wastewater to the sanitary sewer system. Never discharge any wastewater (except melted ice) to gutters or storm drains. Trucks and carts and any equipment should be cleaned on a properly equipped wash pad at the commissary. For a list of licensced commissaries see your county Health Department.

 

 

IV. Misc. or other

 

A. Mobile Homes
Decks
Roofs/Shingles
Awnings
Residential/Commercial Pool Decks

  1. Landscaped 1or dirt area (Note: be aware that soapy wash water may adversely affect landscaping. Should be directed onto dirt area sufficiently large enough to contain all the water. Discuss with the building owner.)
  2. If washwater doesn't go to dirt/landscaping
  • If soap is used, washwater must go to sanitary sewer.
  • If soap is not used, washwater can be discharged to storm drain through a filtering apparatus (i.e. boom) to capture debris and particles.
    Exception: Treated wood shingles are often treated with a toxic material. Treated shingles should be dry cleaned only. Runoff from cleaning may be toxic to plants in a landscaped area and should never be discharged to a storm drain or sanitary sewer.

1For minimal discharge flows only. Repetitive use of the same area or excessive waste volume to the same area may be illegal.