Are car washes open? Where are there hosepipe bans right now?


The hosepipe ban in summer 2023 that affected 2.2 million South East Water customers has now ended so cars can once again be washed with hoses. Check below for the latest news on whether you can use a hose to wash your car.

Here motoring journalist and expert Pete Barden takes look at the rules that apply during hosepipe bans and where the bans are currently in place to help drivers keep their cars clean, while also avoiding the risk of receiving a big fine for breaking the rules.

Are car washes open in the hosepipe ban?Are car washes open in the hosepipe ban?  (Credit: Pxhere)

South East Water hosepipe ban ended for Kent and Sussex

The new hosepipe and sprinkler ban has come into place force for residents  in Kent and Sussex on 26 June has now ended and they can now be used as normal.

South East Water said at the time it had to impose the ban after demand for drinking water had hit "record levels" in June. It added: "We are taking this step to ensure we have enough water for both essential uses and to protect the environment."

Where are other hosepipe bans still in place?

Since last summer, a ban has been in place in Cornwall and certain regions of north Devon. The ban was extended to encompass additional areas, particularly those served by the Roadford reservoir in the western part of the county. This extension affected localities such as Plymouth, Barnstaple, Tavistock, and Torbay.

However, the ban will be lifted on 25 September, South West Water (SWW) has announced.

You can enter your post code to see if you are included here

Where have hosepipe bans been lifted?

Thames Water has lifted its hosepipe ban on its 15 million customers which has been in place since August. The  ban had meant that customers in the capital, Thames Valley and surrounding areas were banned from using hosepipes to wash there cars.

All Thames Water customers can now use hosepipes and pressure washers to clean cars at their home. Previously this was restricted to businesses who operated as car washes.

With the worst of the problems being experienced in the south of England, Southern Water has already imposed a hosepipe ban for users in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Yorkshire Water ended its hosepipe ban on 6 December 2022.

What is the fine for using a hosepipe during a ban?

If you are found to be using a hosepipe during the ban period, you could be fined up to £1,000 for the pleasure.

The legal implications of breaking a hosepipe ban are outlined in the Water Industry Act 1991 section 76, as amended by the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

Can I use a hosepipe to wash my car if there is a ban?

No. You are not permitted to use a hosepipe to wash your car – unless it is connected to a water butt that would be expected to collect contents through rainwater – and not the mains.

Can I use a jet washer to clean my car in a hosepipe ban?

No – if the jet washer is connected to a mains-fed hosepipe, you cannot use it to wash your car or other purposes.

Although, if connected to a water butt with rain water or from washing etc, then you should be okay to use it.

Are there exemptions that allow me to wash my car using a hosepipe during a ban?

Yes. If you own a commercial vehicle – such as a taxi or hearse used for funerals – you will be able to use a hosepipe to wash your car.

You can also use a hosepipe at home to clean your car if it is fed by a private borehole or artificial lake or pond that you happen to own.

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Can I wash my car using a bucket?

It is allowed to use a sponge and bucket to wash your car. You can also use ‘grey water’ such as bathwater to fill up a butt and connect a hose to it if you have the facilities to do so.

Are car washes open during hosepipe bans?

Businesses and commercial premises are exempt from the restrictions, so heading to a hand car wash, automated car wash or commercial self-service jet wash is still permitted.

Expect car washes to be very busy during the duration of the ban due to the inability of most people to be able to wash their vehicles at home.

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Will car wash prices increase due to the hosepipe ban?

A Thames Water ban, for example, could affect as many as 15 million people - putting strain on car washes currently operating in London. This could also see prices rocket as demand soars. Something that will be the same in other areas with such bans on domestic hoses. 

How much water will it save by banning hosepipes for washing cars?

Using a hosepipe to wash a car can require as much as 500-litres of water, whereas using a bucket will use 30-40 litres of the wet stuff.

Will an official drought declaration mean car washes close?

No, not immediately. An official 'drought' declaration will mean more hosepipe bans across the country, but commercial car washes will be able to continue operating - but home use of hoses to wash your vehicle will be banned unless you fall into the exemptions. 

When could commercial car washes be forced to close?

If conditions worsen, an 'extreme drought' could be declared. This would result in local restrictions that could easily see car washes shut down, or limited in number as they would be considered non-essential water use. 

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Author: Pete Barden:

Twitter: @pete_barden

Pete Barden is a qualified journalist who has written and produced for publications including The Sun (, New Statesman Media Group, Whatcar? ( Stuff Magazine (, Fastcar Magazine (, Maxim Magazine and UK broadcast stations within the Heart network (Formerly GCAP). Pete specialises in motoring and travel content, along with news and production roles. You can find out more about Pete Barden on LinkedIn.

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