The only thing worse than having a dirty car is not being able to wash it. In this article, I’m going to teach you how to wash a car without water. Once you know this, you’ll be able to wash your car at any time and any place.
Depending on where you’re located, you may have water restrictions or limited access to a water supply.
Because of this, you’ve probably let the dirt on your car build-up overtime and now your car is caked in mud.
Whenever possible, I’d always suggest a Pre-wash & 2 Bucket Wash at the very least. This is considered to be the best way to wash a car without scratching it.
It’s not always possible though. If you have limited access to water, you have three choices left.
A Waterless Car Wash, Rinseless Car Wash or an Automated Car Wash.
In this article, you will learn all about the waterless car wash. I’ll also tell you what the best waterless car washes are.
Finally, you can have a clean car that turns heads wherever you go.
What Is it?
A Waterless car wash is one of the many different types of car wash.
It’s a highly lubricated detailing spray that is pre-mixed and comes ready to use in a bottle.
Waterless car washes and quick detailers are a great way to keep your vehicle clean between washes. They can even be used as a maintenance wash providing your vehicle has very little pollution.
It’s not uncommon for myself and other car enthusiasts to keep a bottle of waterless car wash and some microfiber towels in the trunk.
Doing this allows me to remove bird bombs and mineral deposits or give the car a quick once over before I arrive at an event.
It doesn’t matter if you’re someone that attends car events or someone that has zero access to running water. Everyone will have a use for this product.
How Does A Waterless Car Wash Work?
In this case, the term “waterless” refers to running water.
If you look at the ingredients of a waterless car wash product, you’ll actually find that it’s 80-99% water.
The remaining percentage is made up of soaps, wax, and other lubricating agents. These are used to loosen dirt and provide lubrication to minimize paint marring.
This special mix of water and chemicals is what allows you to wash your car without having to use a source of water.
It’s a very convenient product but it does have its downsides.
For instance, you can only perform waterless washes on cars with light pollution.
You’ll also need to use many microfiber towels to reduce the risk of creating scratches and swirls in your paint.
How To Use Waterless Car Wash To Wash Your Car Without Water
To Perform a Waterless car wash you’re going to need a lot of microfibre towels. The bigger your car, the more towels you will need.
You want to make sure that the microfiber towels are at least 300GSM each. In an ideal world, they will not have any abrasive edges or labels on them.
I recommend the Kirkland Premium Towels because they’re cheap and get the job done. They do have hard labels though, so watch out for them!
Once you’ve got your towels, you’ll also need a waterless wash product.
If you want value for money I recommend the William Racing waterless wash. If you want the best results, choose Meguiars Wash & Wax.
Stick with one of my recommended waterless washes and you’ll be fine.
How To Wash Your Car Without Water:
- Heavily saturate the area with the product
- Leave the product for 10 seconds
- Wipe the product from the panel
When wiping the product, you should wipe in a straight fashion. Wiping in a circular motion will encourage swirl marks.
You should also apply very little pressure. Remember there’s very little lubrication on the panel.
For the most part, It really is that straightforward.
There are ways to make a waterless wash safer & more efficient but it also adds a slight layer of confusion.
For example, if you only have a couple of towels, you’ll want to make them last as long as possible.
If you keep dragging the same towel across your car, the dirt will build up and begin to create micro-scratches and swirls.
Folding the towels up and rotating it as each side becomes dirty will make them last longer. Personally, I have an abundance of towels so I don’t mind grabbing a new one.
Keeping track of the areas that you’ve washed is also important. You are working with a product that doesn’t stretch very far, the cost can quickly add up.
Like any other wash, I focus on washing the vehicle from the top down. The top is always cleaner and the dirt/product will always fall down as you wash.
With a waterless wash, you want to take it a panel at a time.
For example, My waterless wash order:
- Driver Side
- Passenger Side
- Lower areas
- Plastic Trim
Washing in a specific order will ensure that you don’t forget any panels, making you look like a complete amateur.
Depending on vehicle size, the process should only take 15-30 minutes.
It will take longer if you want to wax the vehicle as well.
Waterless washes and quick detailers often come as a 2 in 1 “Wash & Wax” solution.
Despite this, you may want to apply some proper car wax afterward to make sure your car stays protected.
Personally, I don’t. This is because I know that I’ll be properly hand-washing and waxing the car again soon anyway.
Is Waterless car wash safe? Does it scratch paint?
Every single wash method can scratch the paintwork of a car.
The reason certain wash methods are preferred over another is that they’re less likely to scratch your car.
No matter how hard you try, scratches are inevitable. They’re even more likely if you wash a car using improper wash techniques.
You will not have a problem with scratches if you are washing a vehicle with light pollution and follow the instructions listed above.
The creation of scratches will come if you get lazy, forget to rotate your towels after every pass or try to wash a car that’s caked in dirt.
Waterless car wash pros
- Low Effort
- 2 in 1 Product
- Zero Setup Required
- Wash your car anywhere
- Cheap maintenance wash
Waterless car wash cons
- Cleans light pollution only
- May leave residue on your car
- Requires many microfiber towels
- More likely to scratch paint than a regular handwash
Best Waterless Car Wash Products (2020)
The main quality I look for when buying a waterless car wash is that it lubricates the panel well.
If it lubricates the panel well, I can take the dirt off without creating any scratches, so the car will look its best.
A lot of the waterless washes come with bonus sealant & wax qualities that give a slightly better finish than the ones without.
This is a marginal benefit, don’t expect it to have the same effect as actual wax or sealants.
The products below all have additional wax properties, but they’re on the list because they are the best at doing their job.
Meguiars 2 in 1 Wash & Wax
If you’re looking for a cheap solution, you may want to move on.
Meguiars is one of the industry leaders. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that their waterless wash & wax is on this list, let alone the best, but it comes at a price.
The product branding is very simple and to the point.
You know that you’re getting 768ml of waterless wash & wax solution that can do 3 average-sized cars. Don’t expect to get 4 washes out of this product unless you’re washing 4 Ford Ka’s.
It’s the most expensive product on this list by far and it promises you the least washes.
The cost per wash is close to that of a roadside car wash, so you don’t want to use it for regular washes.
You should use it as I do. Removing bird bombs, water deposits and a quick clean before car events.
Turtle Wax Clean & Shine
Another relatively pricey product.
Turtle Wax is one of the biggest companies in the game. They’re trusted, and no matter what product of theirs you buy, you’re guaranteed a certain level of results.
Because of this level of trust, they are able to ask a higher price and still move incredible amounts of product.
Turtle Wax Clean & Shine comes in a 500ml bottle which will wash approximately 2-3 ford focus sized cars.
The price per liter is considerably cheaper than the Meguiars solution. You are able to buy 3 liters of Turtle wax for the price of 1.5 liters of Meguiars.
That being said, if you’re looking for value, you should look at the next product.
Williams Racing Waterless Wash ‘n’ Wax
Normally products that are associated with a racing team tend to be overpriced. That’s not necessarily the case here.
The packaging leaves a lot to be desired.
There are no instructions on how to use the product or even how many washes to expect from the 1L bottle. All it tells us is the product name and the fact it’s infused with carnauba wax.
From my trial run, I’d suggest that you are able to get 5-8 washes from each liter of product. Obviously, this will change based on vehicle size and how generous you are with the product.
Either way, when compared with Meguiars wash & wax, this looks like a steal.
You can buy 2 liters of this product for the same price as 768ml of Meguiars Wash & Wax.
If you’re willing to pay $5-10 more, you can get 4 liters of product!
If you’re looking for a waterless wash product that you can use for regular maintenance washes, this one may be for you. It’s from a reputable brand and much more competitively priced.
Pro-Kleen Waterless Wash & Wax
Pro Kleen isn’t a brand that I had heard of before testing out waterless car washes.
If I’m honest, I was pretty skeptical about even trying this product, but the packaging looked clean and the price was very cheap.
The amount of solution you receive for the price is great. It’s the cheapest product on this list.
You can get 5.75L of the product at a very low cost. This is especially good for me because I use way too much product in an attempt to minimize scratches.
If like me you are generous with how much product you use, this one is for you.
When you get almost 6 liters of product for this price you can do whatever you want, you could even take a shower in it!
Diamond Shine Waterless Wash
Just like Pro-Kleen, Diamond Shine is a UK Based company that most people will not know about. Despite living in the UK, this was the first I had heard of them.
They started off in the cleaning industry way back in 1944. Later on, they decided to focus on car wash & detailing products in 2003.
I really like the packaging. The bottle is very clean, It would stand out on a shelf at your local auto store.
The label also comes with every piece of detail you could want. Product descriptions, User Instructions, Safety Disclaimers and much more. It’s very well done.
Overall it’s a quality product. It’s cheaper than the Meguiars and Turtle Wax options but I can’t justify buying it over Pro-Kleen or Williams because I’m a cheapskate.