Let’s just dive into it, a waterless dry car wash is a touching subject amongst the detailing community. There are many that believe that there is no place for it and all it does is damage your car. We can of course confirm that the safer way to wash a car is with a pressure washer and a thorough routine to safely remove any dirt. That being said not everyone has access or the time to perform a complete valet or detail on their car wash after wash. This could be down to many factors such as time, locations, ability and as with most summers hose pipe bans. What we will run through in this article is the best way to perform a waterless car wash regardless if you believe it should never be done or if it is your only option. As we say “progress your passion” and if a waterless dry car wash is the only way you can wash the car, we can help your progress your technique.
Step 1. Waterless Car Wash Products Can Add Swirls
Understand what a waterless dry car wash is. There are many products on the market that claim to wash your car without water and without leaving behind any damage. The important thing to do is define what is damage. Yes, when using a waterless wash, they will not directly add scratches to your paintwork, smaller swirls again will not be as a direct result of the product. Any minute swirls and mark will actually be a result of dragging the grit and sand across the surface. This is where waterless dry car washes come in, unlike a standard quick detailer they will have additional lubricating and cleaning properties that lift the dirt away from the paintwork and into the microfibre. Lastly the protective properties they leave behind (normally a synthetics silicone sealant) will both increase the gloss and fill in those micro abrasions. All resulting in a clean car which looks, for the short term, swirl free.
Step 2. Using Better or Multiple Microfibres
With a better understanding on how a waterless car wash is cleaning your car and leaving behind the shine we have identified the one weakness it has; the dirtier the car the more likely the microfibre will become clogged with all the grit and sand and the protective coating will not be enough to prevent that marking the car. One easy solution, use more microfibers! Yes, these will need to be put in the washing machine, which then uses water, but it will be much less than the total used for a standard car wash. Another option is to upgrade the quality of the microfibre. This can make a massive difference in any detailing job not just a dry car wash, better quality microfibres will absorb more product, absorb more dirt, last longer and are softer thanks to a high polyamide count.
Step 3. Use A Pre-Wash
A waterless dry car wash doesn’t have to be completely water free. What we are truly aiming for is not needing a pressure washer and hose pipe; critical in a hose pipe ban. You can however purchase a pump-up pressurised sprayer or foamer. With this you can add a small amount of pre wash and some water (normally only 1-2 litres) and spray all over the car with ease. Completing this step prior to contact with the waterless wash will have done two things; one softened any dirt that may have bonded to the paintwork and two diluted some heavier build up on lower seals and horizontal surfaces. This step is normally one that is overlooked but can have a great impact in the safety and overall cleanliness of the paintwork after.
Step 4. Repeat the process more often.
Another great tip is just to spray and wipe your dry waterless car wash over your car more frequently. If there is less dirt on the surface then there is less chance of introducing those pesky swirls. We aren’t necessarily saying every day (you can if you wish) but not leaving it weeks between uses and stopping the dirt build up will be a massive improvement in safety and effectiveness. What’s more, a continued application will leave behind a greater layer of protective properties, increase both hydrophobic properties and overall gloss levels.
What is the best Waterless Car Wash?
How many microfibres will I need for a waterless dry car wash?
Can I use a normal quick detailer to dry wash a car?
Step 5. Add More Protection
Just because your car will not require a complete valet each time it is washed, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider the application of a ceramic sealant. Any detailer will be able to tell you that cars that have had ceramic sealants applied to them even if they are run through a car wash every day, will look better in the long run compared to an unprotected car. UV protection, chemical protection, an increase in paint hardness, an extra gloss layer and hydrophobic properties all come from a ceramic coating. Yes the coating may not perform to its best and any guarantees would be voided, but those properties do not just go away in one fell swoop. Simply put two cars side by side, same history, same wash type and same number of washes, the one that had a sealant at some point will look better.
Step 6. Dry Wash Can Be Better
Not everyone has the ability to operate a complete safe detail/valet at home. Busy street parking or no access to a hose pipe can be factors as to why. Also, time constraints or just physical ability to move around two heavy buckets of water. If this is the case then many result to local car washes. It seems the sensible solution, but many will be washing all the cars with the same sponges and rags. Is that really much safer than a waterless home wash? Are the chemicals they will be using going to etch or damage more delicate parts of your vehicle? The answer most of the time is yes, so don’t risk those potentially more damaging processes and stick to a waterless dry car wash at home.
Classic cars, especially those prone to rust may be better off with a waterless wash. If your classic car can have the full treatment each time and an air blow dry to remove all trapped water then yes, this will be the better way to care for the classic. A low mileage car which is unlikely to pick up lots of dirt, a dry wash may still be a safer option; plus the knowledge that there is no trapped water which is going to eat away at important chassis components.
The last element in this equation is the environment, a dry car wash is a more environmentally friendly way to wash your car, sacrificing the overall look, maybe introducing some swirl marks. Requiring a little more proactive washing will reduce the amount of wasted water and chemicals going into the ecosystem.
So, in conclusion, if you can’t use a hose pipe, don’t want to use a hose pipe, don’t have the space or the time to set up a pressure washer, the smart choice is to complete a waterless dry car wash. Just remember the following steps to maximise safety and effectiveness:
- Use more microfibres
- Use better quality microfibres
- Use a pre-wash with a pressure foamer
- Clean more regularly
- Add additional layers of protection
- Water can be the enemy of certain cars