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DENVER - Whether it's that summer road trip or just a drive around town, the warmer weather months encourage many to spiff up their cars ata neighborhood car wash.

Experts say professional car washes are more environmentally friendly than washing at home, and it may end up saving you money in the long run.

"Professional car washes all conserve water," Eco Express Wash owner Shane Wells explained. "We recycle about 70 percent of our water here."

Eco Express Wash is just one of many Denver car washes to be recognized by the city for its efforts. Wells says cities across the country are getting behind professional washes because of the difference they make both environmentally and economically.

"We're much more efficient, and we have to be," Wells said.

Here's how the water-saving process works: Runoff from the car wash is first drained into underground tanks. Places like Eco Express Wash can hold upwards of 20,000 gallons of water in its tanks. The water is given time to settle out, then it's brought back up through a purification system so the car wash can reuse that water.

"Professional car washes, all of our water is first recycled, but then it's treated by the city," Wells said.

This recycling process is also healthier for the environment. Wells says when you wash at home, the runoff will eventually make its way into the sewer system and later, back into rivers, subjecting them to soap and other chemicals that are washed off of cars.

If you choose to wash at home, Wells says the typical garden hose will run eight to 10 pounds per square inch (psi). Water pressure at a professional wash sprays between 800 and 1,000 psi.

"We have a lot more cleaning capability because we have a million dollars worth of equipment to produce that cleaning," he said.

Eco Express Wash is one of 250 commercial washes in the city that has been certified by Denver Water. All of these locations recycle their water, saving 60 percent or more than conventional car washes.

For a list of car washes and to find the most conservative one near your home, visit www.denverwater.org.

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