Oregon DEQ Best Practices for Fleet & Equipment Washing

The Department of Environmental Quality has regulations in place for fleet and equipment washing to prevent pollutants from entering the water cycle.  A lot of the chemicals, detergents, soaps, cleaners, etc. can be harmful to the aquatic ecosystems and drinking water that we rely on.  Because of this, it’s important to follow the best practices set by DEQ.

What Happens if the Regulations are Not Followed?

Wash water that has been improperly disposed of can pollute local waterways and ground water. Groundwater that has been contaminated can be very expensive or even impossible to clean.  Our local water ways make their way into the ocean, carrying pollutants with them.  Choosing to improperly dispose of your wash water can have lasting impacts that effect everybody.  The DEQ can impose fines for violations of fleet & equipment washing and wash water disposal, for example, the city of Bend issues fines of $750 for violations.  There are two aspects of fleet & equipment washing where it is important to follow best practices established by the Oregon DEQ; washing activities and disposal of wash water.

Oregon DEQ Best Practices for Fleet

Washing Best Practices

The regulations for washing activities are generally in reference to best practices for proper washing locations, what can and can’t be washed in these areas, and collection of wash water.

Proper Washing Locations

  • Washing areas that include an impermeable surface should extend 4 ft on all sides of the vehicle or equipment
  • Washing areas should be properly graded so that all wash water can be collected from the impermeable surface
  • Don’t wash by repair or chemical storage facilities and make sure runoff goes away from repair/ chemical storage areas.
  • Impervious surfaces used for cleaning operations should have marked boundaries for both the washing and drainage areas. Exceptions include roofed structures and portable impervious washing material with boom collection
  • Warning signs or stencils on pavement next to grit trap or catch basin should be visible and maintained for readability, they should state not to dump any materials
  • Washing of construction vehicles and equipment must occur only on the construction site, not on public or private streets that feed into the storm sewer

What Can and Can’t be Washed

It’s important to identify what classifies as equipment and what does not, as gear that does not classify as equipment should not be washed in designated washing areas.

Oregon DEQ Best Practices for Fleet


  • Fork-lifts
  • Backhoes
  • Graders
  • Tractors


  • Motors
  • Engines
  • Generators
  • Compressors

Collection of Wash Water

  • When washing with chemicals, detergents, soaps, cleaners, hot water or steam, wash water needs to be collected so it doesn’t contaminate storm water runoff, use a roofed structure, dead-end sump, grit trap, recycling equipment or treatment equipment, portable vacuum, or a catch basin that can close the outlet to storm drainage
  • Paved areas with washing should furnish or retrofit catch basins with sediment traps and inverted elbow outlets to trap floating oils. Solids and oils should be cleaned out when the basin becomes 30% full of solids or once a year. Cleaning should take place in dry weather to not pollute storm sewer and solids must be disposed of in accordance with DEQ regulations
  • Design implementation for new developments for areas near dumpsters, fueling stations, storage areas or repair shops should reflect proper drainage of wash water to prevent illicit mixture with storm water runoff.

Additional Wash Water Best Practices to note:

  • Wash in a manner that prevents soil erosion
  • Biodegradable and Phosphate-free detergents and soaps should be used in washing activities
  • All vehicle fluids should be collected and disposed of in accordance with DEQ regulations- solvents such as gasoline, lubricating oils, anti-freeze, hydraulic fluids, degreasing agents, paint
  • Changing of motor oil is prohibited in wash areas, best practice to not change any vehicle or equipment fluids in wash areas
  • To minimize detachment of paint residues (chips), heavy metals, or any other potentially hazardous materials, the cleaning process should be altered. Also ensure that the detergent used is free from abrasive properties. Abrasive detergents create harmful particles that could enter the storm sewers.
  • Building exteriors and pavement areas are not allowed to use solvents as cleaning agents pe the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit #1700-A or the Water Pollution Control Facilities (WPCF) General Permit #1700-B. Blasting a dry or semi-dry material is appropriate.  Proper disposal of solid material would be sweeping or vacuuming.

Fleet & Equipment Cleaning for Form & Function

Proper Disposal of Wash Water

The Department of Environmental Quality recommends disposal to the sanitary sewer wherever practicable. The local sewer authority does require a minimal pretreatment prior to disposal.

  • Wash water should be collected and discharged to sanitary sewer or treatment system or allowed to absorb into the ground for building and pavement washing operations that use cleaners, detergents or soap.
  • Concentrate water or backwash ought to be properly discharged to the sanitary sewer and should meet pretreatment standards and requirements set by the local sewer authority.
  • Mobile washing services must dispose of wash water to the sanitary sewer or wash water must be treated in a closed loop recycle system

Disposal Alternatives for small cleaning operations

  • Collection in a grit trap, sump, or containment structure to be siphoned or pumped to a vegetated area so that whole purification into the ground occurs.
  • Grass is the preferred vegetated cover to dispose of wash water.
  • A dry grassy swale is another option for wash water disposal. The swale ought to be a minimum of 250 feet in length before reaching a body of water.


Proper washing and disposing of wash water per The Department of Environmental Quality, while necessary to keep our water systems clean, is extremely tedious. Snugs is well versed in DEQ regulations and is your answer to a sparkling fleet and equipment without the headache. So save on your water bill and call SNUGs today!


Snugs Pro Wash, Inc, dba SNUGS Services, has been providing high quality Pressure Washing Services in Portland, OR since 1995. Started as a residential pressure washing and roof cleaning service, SNUGS is now one of the leading exterior cleaning companies in the Northwest. From our humble beginnings as a man with a truck and a trailer we have grown to become a multi-million dollar company serving corporate customers, name brands, and mom and pop companies alike.

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