Waterless washing is a technique in which no water is used to clean the surface. The product for this technique has high lubricating properties, good cleaning agents and leaves little to no residue. It is not always as good as a regular wash, and is not suited for highly contaminated vehicles.
Why waterless wash
A waterless wash can be necessary in places where there is a water-ban, such as Australia and some parts of America. It can also be considered more eco-friendly because there are no suds going down the drain and into the sewer. Some countries have a limit on the water that allowed to be used by a household/business, meaning you might not have enough water to wash the car. Certain show or event location also don’t offer running water, even though you want to clean your car before visitors arrive. If the vehicle isn’t very dirty, it might also be faster and easier then a regular wash.
Risk of waterless wash
Waterless washing a car isn’t suitable for all situations, since the product has to be able to remove dirt in a safe way there is a limit in how effective it is. When washing with water, rinsing will rinse off a the suds and any loosened dirt. Drying is then done to prevent the water from leaving mineral deposits and to remove any dust or dirt still left on the surface. The amount of contamination that is “rubbed around” by the drying towel is minimal. During a waterless wash, all the dirt is being “rubbed around” by the microfiber towel being used. Every single contamination particle creates a risk of creating swirls or marring the paintwork. A waterless wash product has to be capable of preventing this from happening, which isn’t always good enough.
Types of waterless wash
There are generally 2 types of waterless wash products:
Waterless wash that leaves a residue
After spraying the product over the surface, it is wiped off. The remaining residue is then wiped off again via a second microfiber towel. This is a very similar process to that of a quick detailer. A quick detailer is often a emulsion with protective and cleaning properties and some lubrication, not totally unlike a waterless wash. Combining these 2 products gives a cleaning product that leaves a protective layer, 2 birds with 1 stone. However, not everybody wants this effect. In the case where a ceramic coating is used, it may be recommended to use a residue-free product.
Waterless wash that does not leave any residue
In some situations it might be recommended to use a residue-free product. A waterless wash that is fully removed and doesn’t leave any residue behind. This is not an easy task to accomplish, since the lubricating action is often due to certain oils in suspension. These oils are often less easy to just “wipe off” then the rest of the ingredients.
Waterless wash process
- Spray the product over the surface, work panel by panel
- Leave it to soak for a few minutes
- Wipe off the loosened dirt with a towel
- Follow up with another clean towel to fully remove the product
It should be noted that a waterless wash is not suitable on heavily contaminated vehicles, and should be treated as a “quick wipe” rather then a “deep clean”.
Tips and trick when using a waterless wash
- Work panel for panel
- Fold your towel to there are multiple usable sides
- After wiping off a panel for the first time, fold your towel so you have a new clean side to use on the next panel
- Use plenty towels
- Don’t work in the hot summer sun
- Use quality towels
- Don’t apply pressure while wiping off, otherwise you increase the risk of marring
- Wipe the product off in straight lines, not in a circular motion
- Keep on eye on your towel, if it is to dirty, turn it over to a clean side
- Start at the top of the car, which is often the least dirty. Finish with the most dirty areas
- towels with long fibers and a deep pile are generally recommended