Why You Should Try Waterless Car Wash
Years ago, it might have sounded like one of those too-good-to-be-true late night TV product pitches. Yet, today, “waterless car wash” is gaining popularity throughout the collector car community. If you like to baby your car’s finish, or if you live in a place that has water-use restrictions, you need to try waterless car washing.
Waterless car wash is a spray-on, wipe-off liquid product you can use in between water washes. Or, if your car rarely picks up more than a light dusting and spends a lot of time under a cover in a garage, you might be able to use waterless car wash almost exclusively. Naturally, waterless car wash is ideal for giving your car a quick detailing after arriving at a car show or concours event.
You can use waterless car wash products on the entire car – paint, glass, plastic, and wheels. Not only is it easy, but it’s also inexpensive.
The waterless car wash product itself, offered by many brands, is a high-lubricity spray detailer. “High lubricity” means the liquid captures dirt and dust particles. Since you do not use water on the car, you don’t have to worry about creating water spots. And, especially critical for a classic car, you won’t be spraying high-pressure water into nooks and crannies where it can sit.
Many Choices, Low Cost
The market offers a wide array of waterless car wash products to choose from, and many of these easy-to-use sprays include multiple benefits, including waxes and polymer sealants.
Meguiars says its 26-ounce bottle Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax will yield 3-4 washes. It goes for about $8 online. Another product, Chemical Guys EcoSmart Ready to Use Waterless Car Wash and Wax, sells for about $10 online and claims 16 ounces will give you 4-7 washes.
Some online reviewers of waterless car wash products report getting fewer washes than claimed on the product package. That could be due to overusing the product. It’s important to use a product exactly as directed, not just to avoid wasting it, but to get the washing results you expect.
What Else Do I Need?
The waterless car wash process requires using a microfiber towel for the washing/wiping. Don’t skimp here, and don’t buy just one. Choose a high-quality, very soft towel with a deep nap. A cheap, thin towel with a flat weave or nap will not have enough room to hold the dirt, meaning you could end up rubbing dirt particles against the paint.
How to Use Waterless Car Wash Effectively
The key to success with waterless car wash is working efficiently and minimizing dirt buildup on your towel. Start by folding the towel in half and then in half again to give you eight working sides. Once you’ve used all eight sides, switch to another clean microfiber towel.
You’ll be cleaning a “panel” at a time. Depending on the size of the car, it could be half a hood or even half a roof. A Corvette roof is a lot smaller than a Cadillac roof, so be mindful not to spray an area so large that the product dries.
Start by spraying a panel generously. Now comes the most critical part: Wipe lightly in one direction. Never wipe in a circular pattern, because you’ll end up redistributing dirt over areas you’ve just cleaned. Applying too much pressure can leave micro scratches.
Wipe until dry, and then start the next section. As already mentioned, pay attention to dirt accumulation on the towel and switch to another of the eight clean sides when needed. Detailing experts suggest the following order for best results:
Hood and trunk lid
Fenders and doors (upper sections first, because they’re not as dirty as the lower sections)
Front bumper and grille
The lower half of the fenders and doors
Do the wheels last, and set aside towels just for them. You don’t want to risk transferring brake dust and road grime to your car’s painted surfaces.
With waterless car washing, if you drive your car only occasionally and store it properly, you may never need to use water on it again. It’s easy, good for the car, and better for the environment than flushing gallons of soapsuds into storm drains. There’s one more benefit: your shoes will stay dry.