Waterless car wash – How to wash your car without water


Take care of your vehicle, and your vehicle will take care of you. It’s a phrase you’ve probably heard to the point that you roll your eyes at it, but it’s still solid advice. Keeping the exterior of your car looking pristine is integral to the appearance of your vehicle and in some cases, the fact that it more efficient. However, if you don’t have easily accessible water for something like this, either due to the climate in your area or the lack of a faucet for a hose, a good car wash can be difficult. .

Fortunately, waterless car washing is not an oxymoron. While not a complete replacement for a deep wash, there are specialty sprays, waxes, and wipes that will keep your device clean.

What is a waterless car wash?

As the name suggests, waterless car washes rid the vehicle’s paint of light debris without the power of water. Compared to a pipe-or one pressure washer, if you’re lucky enough to have one, the waterless wash emulsifies dirt, dust, and other contaminants, making them easy to wipe away with a microfiber towel. And these sprays are highly lubricating to ensure dirt and other grime doesn’t scratch your paintwork on the way out.

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turtle wax hybrid solutions ceramic detailing

Trevor Raab

This Turtle Wax 3-in-1 Waterless Wash proved to be the most effective throughout testing. In addition to cleaning paint, it serves as a spray wax and hydrophobic coating, adding extra shine while allowing water to bead and roll off. This bead decreases the amount of dirt that sticks to your car, making it much easier to clean the next time you give it a good wash. While Turtle Wax is quite expensive at around $17 a bottle, Adam’s Polishes makes a $10 wash without water which has proven to be a great alternative without any waxing or coating capabilities.


Depending on your priorities or situation, the biggest advantage of waterless car wash is precisely that: not having to use water, which saves money and resources. But the products are also extremely easy to use. More precisely, they are considerable time savings. give my Volkswagen GTI its twice-weekly wash usually takes me about two hours – yes, I’m pretty dodgy when it comes to freshening up my car.

However, a quick spray on and wipe off only took me about 10 minutes. And all this time I haven’t needed to use any water. I found the best results spraying one panel at a time, letting the product sit for about 30 seconds, then wiping it off in straight lines. After wiping down the whole car, I checked any spots I might have missed – these still look wet – with a clean towel. And that’s all.

wipe down the side of the truck with a microfiber cloth

Trevor Raab

Another advantage is affordability. All you need to get great results from a waterless car wash is the product itself and a microfiber towel. Adam’s Polishes Drying Towel to function best. Meanwhile, even the most basic car wash setup requires accessories such as buckets, Wash cloths, paint brushesand drying towels-this is before buying more advanced items like pressure washers and polishers.

The bad

Unfortunately, waterless car washing is not a real substitute for a traditional thorough exterior cleaning. It won’t be able to rid your car of caked-on mud. In our testing, we couldn’t remove anything more than light dust or dirt buildup on the paint. So if you do regular off-roading or live somewhere that has a lot of rainfall, it might not be as useful to you. It also does not replace a car wash in the spring to remove snow and salt accumulated in winter.

Also, if you’re not careful, improper application of the waterless car wash can embed dirt into your paintwork. Many of these types of products (especially the cheaper versions) include fillers that just cover up dirt to make your car look clean when it really isn’t. These embedded layers of dirt are not permanent, but are difficult to remove – best to get it right. A quick look at the safety data sheet (essentially a recipe) for these products revealed that most of the more expensive variants do not include any filler.

3 in 1 waterless wash spray from turtle wax on the hood of a red truck

Trevor Raab

Truck hood with dirty left side and clean shiny right side

Trevor Raab

The result

Ultimately, I see myself using these spray products as a stopgap in between my twice-weekly washes. Waterless car washes work as advertised on vehicles with only a light dusting on the paint. Any more than that and they didn’t cut it.

Think of them as a great way to maintain that contest-level shine without having to whip out the hose and a wash bucket. But if your vehicle is very dirty, you will have to fire the heavy artillery.

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