What is a Waterless Car Wash?

March 12, 2019


At Shine Easy, we know all about the ongoing drought conditions experienced in the southern Iberian peninsula, which will increase in severity in the coming years, according to the latest report from the International Panel on Climate Change. We take pride in offering a waterless car wash as our default option. Not only is it good for the environment but it also produces the same results as a water-based wash.

Here’s the deal…

You’ve probably heard about a waterless car wash or a spray on car wash or a dry car wash, but you have absolutely no idea what it is! In this post, we will cover the basics of a waterless car wash, the results you can achieve and how you can wash your car at home with minimal water use.

1.- What is a Waterless Car Wash?

A waterless car wash is an eco-friendly and efficient car wash that uses little or no water. Sometimes it is also known as a spray on car wash or no water car wash.

This is the best part; often a waterless car wash is easier to do than a traditional car wash while producing the exact same results! It also allows the car detailer to service your car in narrow spaces while saving surprising amounts of water.

Waterless products are more advanced than regular soap used for a mobile car wash as they need to compensate for the lack of water. Thus, the efficiency of the waterless car wash is usually better than using water-based methods. Plus, when doing waterless car detailing, you only need 1 litre of water to rinse your towels instead of using between 100 to 300 litres of clean water when using a pressure washer or a hose.

2.- How does a Waterless Car Wash work?

A waterless car wash uses high lubricity sprays to wash the vehicle’s bodywork. The spray’s high lubricity chemicals encapsulate dirt and dust particles. This process is similar to how water removes dirt, but the chemical combination of a waterless car wash product is more efficient.

You have to simply spray the surface of the car and then wipe it off. This process removes any light dirt or stains from the car’s surface. A waterless car wash is only recommended for cars without mud or sand stuck to the surface, mainly on cars that have been off-road.

Wiping down your car with a waterless car wash spray is advised by any auto detailer as water can sometimes hurt your bodywork and leave marks if you go about it the wrong way. However, you have to have a good soft microfiber towels to wipe the car.

A microfiber towel is used because of high absorbency and softness, which helps to scoop up these dirt particles.

If the waterless car wash product is used correctly, it will not damage or scratch your car’s paint.

III. Environmental Impact of a Waterless Car Wash

Most corner car washes use vast quantities of water as they drown the bodywork in water and soap to remove as much dirt as possible (and as fast as possible!).

This is how much water is traditionally used to wash a saloon car:

A hose and bucket wash at home:

This method uses 100 - 200 litres of water per wash! You also inevitably discharge soapy water, dust, and car oils into the environment.

A commercial car wash:

Most commercial car washes use up to 100 litres of water per wash. However, some car washes can reclaim most of that water.

A waterless car wash:

A waterless car wash requires just 100ml-200ml of waterless car wash formula used per car and a couple of buckets of water. In the cases where the car is caked in mud, you require a pressure hose to remove the mud safely.

3.- Waterless Car Wash Products

You are better off buying a litre of waterless car cleaner. The waterless car cleaner product will cost you approximately £40 and will allow you to wash your car 5 or 6 times. There are many popular car care brands like Meguiar’s, Chemical Guys and Eco-Touch that sell high-quality ready to use waterless car wash products.

While at Shine Easy, we use a proprietary waterless car wash formula, our research has concluded that Chemical Guys EcoSmart is one of the best chemically balanced, premium waterless car wash sprays around.

4.- Waterless Car Wash Review

If you’re looking for a simple car wash to remove the visible dirt, a waterless car wash works perfectly fine. However, if you get thick embedded dirt on your vehicle, it might sometimes be better to apply a small quantity of water on those areas so that you don’t use too much cleaner to soften the dirt. If you follow the steps correctly, then you will not damage the paint of your car.

If you want to use wax or to go up to the clay bar treatment, preparing your car with waterless car wash solution is better. If you use water, you would have to dry the car very well using specific equipment or let the vehicle dry under a hot sun. Residues of water on your car can be harmful when applying car wax or polish.

5.- How to do a Waterless Car Wash Yourself [Step-by-Step Guide]

To do a waterless car wash yourself at home, you will need many clean microfiber towels and a ready to use waterless car wash product. We recommend using a plush microfiber towel for paint and a waffle weave lint-free towel for glass, both with a minimum weight of 300 GSM (grams per square meter). A low quality or dirty towel can damage your car.

If your car has excessive mud, we recommend a rinse. A waterless car wash solution will not be effective against caked mud.

Follow our step-by-step guide to getting your car shiny in no time!

Step 1

Start by taking a microfiber towel and folding it twice in half to create eight useable sides. Remember that we use a microfiber towel because it offers high absorbency and softness, which helps to scoop up these dirt particles.

Note: Make sure your microfiber towels are clean before using them, we recommend using a microfiber specific detergent which is concentrated, bleach-free and contains no fabric softeners to care for your towels as best as possible.

Step 2

Mentally split up your car into different sections that you can work on at a time, in descending order from typically cleanest to dirtiest:

  •    The side glass;
  •    The roof;
  •    The bonnet and boot;
  •    The side doors (upper half);
  •    The front bumper;
  •    The rear bumper;
  •    The lower half of the side doors; and
  •    The wheels.

You will want to use different microfiber cloths for different sections of the car, for example and old terry towel is better used for cleaning rims and tyres while a plush edgeless microfiber is best used on car body paint. Stop using a cloth if it becomes too dirty or accumulates particles. Incorrectly using a microfiber towel can cause scratches on your vehicle. Never reuse a dirty microfiber without washing it first.

Step 3

Usually, car detailers start at the top of the car to avoid spilling when using products on the roof.

Simply spray the waterless car wash product onto one folded cloth and onto a panel of the vehicle, gently wipe with leading cloth. And quickly buff using a second clean and dry microfiber cloth.

Step 4

Wipe lightly in one direction, folding the towel as you move across the surface. Wipe the bodywork gently without applying too much pressure. Don’t go in circles or you’ll just end up keeping the dirt on the car. We recommend wiping linearly in the direction of the wind.

Step 5

When the towel gets too dirty, fold it over and use one of the other clean sides. The idea of using a clean side every time is to avoid reintroducing dirt onto the car, causing scratches. Repeat this process as you clean the other parts of your vehicle. We recommend using a separate microfiber towel for the brakes since the brake pads may contain chemical fluids.


We believe that waterless car washes are the future. Encourage your local washer and detailer to wash your car without water and see the incredible results for yourself!

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