There has been a lot of buzz circulating around lately for “waterless car wash” products. If you’re not familiar with how they work, let me first explain. Essentially you spray a small panel of your car with a waterless car wash formula, let it sit for a few seconds, and wipe off with a microfiber towel. When I first heard about these products a cheesy infomercial popped into my head. But, in reality I was pleasantly surprised at their effectiveness.
Each waterless car wash formula is unique in regards to its ingredients. The main “active” ingredient is the one which will help to actually clean your car. There are two schools of thought on this as to what type of active ingredient works best.
Some of these waterless products rely on petroleum, silicone, or other type of hydrocarbon to clean the car. When I look at these products, I don’t see much difference between them and a “quick detailer” you could buy at your local auto store. Why? It has been proven these chemicals are a hazard to our health and the environment. If you’re unsure about which products to buy, simply ask the manufacturer for a Material Safety Data Sheet and check it out for yourself.
The second school of thought is to use organic plant-based agents to clean the car. The ones on the market today are non-toxic, biodegradable, and petroleum-free. In actuality I have found little difference between the two types of cleaning agents when looking at lightly – to moderately dirty cars.
The last difference amongst waterless formulas is that some contain carnauba wax. While people may find a one-step product appealing (wash and wax at the same time) I feel that the two should be separate from one another. A high-grade wax applied after a waterless wash will last much longer than a one-step.
Here is the science behind how the whole process works. When sprayed onto a car panel, the soaps, surfactants, and lubrication agents break down dirt particles, the polymers wrap around the particles and bond to the dirt. A microfiber towel is used because of high absorbency and softness, which helps to scoop up these dirt particles. A second microfiber towel is used to help polish any remaining formula.
Compared to traditional bucket and soap washing, the waterless wash takes significantly less effort and time. I’ve found that average cleaning times (including setup) are about half that of traditional methods. Plus, you no longer have to worry about your waste-water flowing into our waterways untreated.
In all, I would definitely recommend at least trying these waterless products first, and seeing which ones you like best. One of my favorites is: