One of the most recent product innovations to emerge out of the car cleaning & detailing industry is the waterless car wash. The idea behind these products is that they can replace traditional car shampoo products and make the car washing process as a whole much quicker, easier and less labor intensive, whilst still giving as good a finish as a traditional shampoo product. Waterless car wash products work by using advanced surfactants, emulsifiers and lubricants to effectively encapsulate the dirt particles and hold then away from the surface ready to then be removed with either a wash implement or microfiber towel.
There are generally two different types of waterless wash products; those that are sprayed directly onto the vehicle from a bottle then removed and buffed over with a micro fiber towel, and those that are added to a bucket of water and then applied to the vehicle with a sponge or mitt, much like the traditional car washing process, before being removed and buffed over with a microfiber towel.
Obviously, both of these types of products do actually contain or require water and so really these products are not actually ‘waterless’ in themselves. The term waterless fundamentally refers to the fact that no rinsing is required when using them – both before and after the washing.
There is some controversy surrounding waterless car wash products as many people believe that no matter how advanced the ingredients are, the fact that you are still in essence rubbing the dirt into the surface of the paintwork will undoubtedly result in swirl marks and scratches being inflicted. Others however, regularly use these products on their cars and report no damage whatsoever being inflicted even after prolonged use and after a thorough inspection in direct sunlight or under an suitable lamp.
Realistically, waterless wash products can offer advantages when used properly but there is also potential draw backs too. For example, if you take your vehicle to car shows and events then they can provide an ideal way to give your car a final clean before it is exhibited. If you live in an apartment or flat where access to outside water is not possible or if you live in an area that has restrictions on water usage then waterless car wash products can again offer an ideal solution to these problems. Finally, if you simply want to reduce the amount of time it takes to wash your car and remove the level of involvement of both products and equipment then they can be a very attractive option.
The main disadvantage these products face is that if you have a very heavy soiled vehicle with caked on mud and thick layers of dried on road grime for example then they simply will not be capable of removing the dirt in a safe and effective manner. A pressurized jet of water, whether from a hosepipe or pressure washer is simply a necessity for vehicles in this condition and there is no getting around this.
For larger and oversized vehicles like some SUV’s, trucks and RV’s it is simply not practical nor does it make economic sense to clean them with a waterless wash product as they will require a great deal of product to sufficiently cover the entire vehicle, as opposed to a small measure of a traditional dilutable shampoo product and again pressurized water, which would be preferable to clean such vehicles with.
Generally, waterless car wash products are safe to use and can be very effective when used on vehicles that initially have had a thorough clean and detail, and that are not too dirty, for maintaining them on a regular basis. If paintwork has been thoroughly decontaminated, polished and protected, wheels have also been thoroughly decontaminated and sealed and plastics and trim cleaned and dressed, then a waterless wash product can be used to maintain the exterior on a weekly basis as long as it has not accumulated any heavy levels of dirt, in order to restore your vehicles exterior and bring it back to a freshly detailed looking standard.
If you leave your car uncleaned for any longer than a week and want to use a waterless car wash to clean it then you run the risk of both inflicting surface damage – contrary to what the manufacturers of these products state, and even if no damage was inflicted, the finish and standard of clean would be compromised as it may well struggle to lift off the built up dirt properly and may leave smears and areas of stubborn dirt behind – especially if the vehicles surfaces are unprotected.
The best thing to do when considering using a waterless car wash product is to simply use your common sense. If your car is excessively soiled with high amounts of ingrained dirt and contaminants then it will most likely require plenty of water to safely and effectively remove it. However, if your car is well looked after and only ever sees light levels of dirt and contaminants then these products can be used without any trouble.
Overall, waterless car washing products, when used correctly and in the right circumstances, can offer a viable and attractive alternative to washing your car with a traditional car shampoo product. They can save you time, save you money on other products and equipment that is not required, and can give you just as good results as a traditional shampoo product or any other car washing product can.