So let me just start this by saying that I’m always uncomfortable in cleaning a car with something like these products – effectively what you’re doing is spraying a fluid on top of dirt (which could be comprised of anything including grit, sand, airborne particles and the like) and then wiping it with a towel.
I guess we should set expectations first – if you’ve just come back from a weekend of getting dirty in your 4x4, mud up to your fenders, a windshield that you can just about see out of, perhaps a waterless wash isn’t the best way to go.
Where should we draw the line? I can definitely see a use for these products, and I suppose that some of that would depend on your car – an immaculate classic or expensive supercar is one thing, but an old beater with a million miles on the clock is entirely different. But … these products are aimed at cleaning your car, not just giving it a quick spritz, hopefully we’ll get to the bottom of how good they are.
Table of Contents
- In Practice
- Best Waterless Car Wash Products 2018
- The Conclusion
The first drawback I see with all of these products is that it says to wet the surface to be cleaned, and the microfiber towel, and then to wipe in one single direction, turning the microfiber to a clean spot before the next pass.
You’re going to need a lot of microfiber towels to ensure a clean side each time you pass it over the vehicle, like, a LOT of towels.
Secondly, any stubborn dirt can’t be agitated with the towel. You’ll need to soak it with some fluid and let it soften, and probably do another pass.
Also, this would need to be done on a cool car (I’m not talking about styling). If the paintwork is hot, the fluid will dry pretty quickly, which will lead to smears and swirl marks.
Putting aside the minor niggles (and they really are minor), if you feel that getting the foam cannon out and going for the full clean is too much, then this could work for you.
The process is very simple – just lube the paintwork (keep it to a manageable area) with the spray, and wet the microfiber towel and then wipe the towel across the paintwork, keeping it in one direction, try and reach the edge of the panel.
Simply fold the towel so that you have a clean side and take the next wipe. Continue in this fashion until you’ve done the complete car, then go over it all again with a clean microfiber towel to give it a final buffing of the polish. It really is simple, quick and easy.
Best Waterless Car Wash Products 2018
It’s important to remember that this process is for paintwork that’s lightly soiled, don’t even attempt to clean something like a Dakar rally car.
In no particular order, these are five of the best waterless car wash solutions.
5 Waterless Car Wash Picks
1. Aero Cosmetics Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit
The Aero Cosmetics was initially developed over thirty years ago for the aircraft industry, in fact it meets the Boeing Aircraft, AirBus Industries and McDonnell Douglas specifications for interior and exterior cleaning. That’s pretty impressive.
Designed as a dual use product – a waterless wash and wax, or a wet wash ‘wax as you dry’ formula, and despite being a dual product, it works equally well at either.
It’s a plant based, eco-friendly formula that’s safe to use on pretty much any surface – paintwork, glass, plastics, metal, rubber … anything in or on your car, and it also leaves a UV protective coating and lasting shine.
Equipped with a full 16oz spray bottle, 1 gallon fluid and 4 decent sized microfiber towels in the kit. Aero say that there is enough to do 36 full waterless washes or waxes.
2. Meguiar's G3626 Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax
I’ve been using Meguiar’s products for longer than I care to mention. And rarely have I felt that I’ve missed out on better products, it’s the same for this waterless wash – it does exactly what you want it to, and does it well.
Meguiar’s say that it uses ‘advanced chemistry’ that guarantees a water spot-free finish, with super high lubricity (so it’s slippy), and that the polymer engineering leaves a long lasting, glossy shine on everything. Speaking of everything – you can use this pretty much anywhere; glass, metal, paint, plastic – the only thing I’d say is not to use it on the interior glass of the windshield if you stick things (like a cell phone holder) to it.
Overall, Meguiar’s deliver a quality waterless wash product to match their range of detailing goodies.
3. Optimum (NR2010Q) No Rinse Wash & Shine
Not quite a full waterless wash, the Optimum NR2010Q maybe a hybrid of that and a regular wash. Optimum recommend using 1oz of the fluid in 2 gallons of water, and that’s it – no rinsing, just wipe it off and buff it up. This should mean that a single bottle should do at least 32 washes.
The NR2010Q uses an exclusive blend of polymers with a high lubricity which somehow manages to stick to the paintwork, all while containing the dirt that you’re cleaning off and removing that while leaving a super-shiny finish.
While it sounds like hokum, the results speak for themselves – it does an amazing job (without suds) of cleaning your car and leaving a showroom finish. Forget the two bucket method of washing a car, from now on, you’ll need minimum water and just some decent microfiber towels.
4. Chemical Guys EcoSmart-RU Waterless Car Wash and Wax
The Chemical Guys EcoSmart-RU is like a car wash in a can (well, bottle to be precise) and would be my choice if I’m feeling lazy. It does pretty much everything with one simple mist of the specially engineered formula, including waxing – comes with a natural carnauba wax as part of the ingredient list.
The Chemical Guys waterless car wash and wax uses ‘hyper-surfactants’ (basically, a compound that helps to lower the surface tension between two liquids) and lubricating ingredients to lift the dirt and suspend it in the liquid (rather than the paintwork). Additionally, it can be used on a wet or dry vehicle, and it’s the first ever product of its kind – a waterless detailing system, not just a waterless wash.
Despite being labelled as ready to use, you can also dilute the product down to 2 parts water & 1 part RU. But in all honesty, a 16oz bottle should be enough for a number of cars without diluting it down any further – it lasts well and the mist nozzle helps to cover large areas.
If you’re looking for something more than a quality waterless wash system, then this is it.
5. TriNova Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit
The product you’re buying is a concentrate, and TriNova recommend just 1/2oz per full bottle, which means 32 complete bottles once diluted – that’s some good going.
The TriNova Waterless Kit can’t clean stubborn marks like tree sap, no matter how long you soak them for, but that’s missing the point – this is a quick spritzer to give your wheels a short term shine. Also, it reduces the time of washing your car by around 75% - just need a quick spruce up? This is perfect.
With a specially designed formula (but aren’t they all?) that will lift off dirt and grime without scratching or swirling the paintwork, all while leaving a UV blocking and water-repelling coating behind it.
The kit comes with a decent microfiber towel, and the only thing you’ll need to add is the 16oz of water to make up the concentrate.
Need a fast wash? Choose this one.
Despite being really skeptical, I can definitely see the benefits of using waterless car wash products, especially if you’re in drought areas or living in a high-rise. I think that providing you remember that when it talks about lifting dirt away, they don’t mean big chunks of grit, you should be fine.
Aside from that, I also see other uses – turning up to a car show and needing a quick wipe down, hot date, dust storm … the fact that it’s so quick is part of the attraction.
I’ve probably converted myself and highly recommend that you try one of the 5 best waterless car washes.