It’s not impossible to clean your car during water restrictions, but there are some clever techniques to get the best results while staying within the law.
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While much of Australia is experiencing Level 2 water restrictions, there is a way to wash your car at home with a pressure cleaner while staying within the law.

The current Level 2 water restrictions for washing cars requires the use of a bucket – even though many argue this wastes more water than a well-aimed hose with a nozzle – but there is a way to use a pressure cleaner at home while using less water than the average shower.

Car care company Meguiar's has introduced a 15-litre bucket with a plastic hose adaptor at the base for $15. Simply fill the bucket with water (as per Level 2 water restriction requirements) and then attach the pressure cleaner to the hose adaptor at the base of the bucket.

According to detailed regulations it is still legal to fill the bucket with water from a hose, although only via a Level 2 water restriction-approved water-saving garden nozzle.

For this set-up to work properly it is best to elevate the bucket (on top of another bucket the same size, for example) so there is enough water pressure to operate the power cleaner or snow foam device.

Alternatively, you can simply drill a 33mm hole in the bottom of existing bucket, buy a plastic hose adaptor, and make your own.

As a quick reminder, Level 2 water restrictions mean you can use drinking water to “wash your car, motorbike or caravan with a bucket or watering can” or “at a commercial car wash”.

In NSW the fine for breaching these restrictions is $220 for individuals and $550 for businesses.

However, during Level 3, Level 4 and Level 5 water restrictions the use of buckets is restricted to certain times of the day or banned altogether, leaving owners to resort to waterless car wash solutions.

A number of car care companies sell waterless wash-and-wax sprays, or spray-and-wipe cleaners which can be used with a cloth and no bucket is required, however these are for cleaning “light to moderate grime”, not heavy mud.

Level 3 water restrictions allows buckets to be used for two hours late in the day (check your local area for details) while Level 4 allows only for “vehicle windows, windscreens, number plates and mirrors” to be cleaned for safety reasons with buckets only, but the rest of the car cannot be cleaned.

Level 5 emergency levels ban all water use, and the only way to clean your car is with waterless methods.