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Should I Use Waterless Car Wash Products?

March 10, 2021

Washing a car without water. That might sound ridiculous, but a waterless car wash is just that: a way of washing your car that is quick, efficient, and eco-friendly – without using water. But is a waterless wash good for your car? Is it a suitable alternative to traditional car wash methods? And should you be using the process to clean your car?

Can you really wash a car without water?

Consider the purpose of water during a car wash. Whether it is an automatic car wash or hand car wash. Water is used to pre-rinse any loose dust, dirt, and debris from the surface of your vehicle. Soap and other car wash chemicals are applied in order to emulsify the remaining contaminants and suspend them from the surface. Gentle agitation – either from the cloth and foam of a soft-touch car wash or a microfiber wash mitt when doing it by hand – helps to loosen those contaminants before water is again used to rinse or flush them away.

Soap and water serve as lubricants to avoid abrasion. If you wash your car without water, you need another way to break up stuck-on impurities and remove them from the surface without scratching the paint or other sensitive surfaces.

A waterless car wash aims to do precisely that.

What is a waterless car wash?

Sometimes referred to as a “dry” car wash, a waterless car wash is not exactly dry. You probably know that dry cleaning for your clothing, while it does not use water, does use wet chemicals in the process. Similarly, waterless car washing uses a spray chemical to loosen up the dirt on your car.

Waterless car wash products (such as Armor All Ultra Shine Wash, Rain-X Waterless Car Wash, or Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax) are high in lubricity and are therefore extremely good at reducing friction between dirt and your paint. When applied to the surface of your car, these products emulsify and encapsulate dirt, dust, and other contaminants. The idea is similar to what soap and water would do, but without the soap and water. You simply spray on the waterless wash and wipe it off with a clean cloth. Waterless car washing is sort of like using furniture spray to clean your end tables – only for your car.

There are some advantages of a waterless wash. For instance, it can be done quickly and in almost any space, saving time and energy. Of course, the process saves on water consumption, making it better for the environment. The average automatic car wash uses between 35-50 gallons of water per wash. If you wash your car in the driveway, a 20-minute job can consume as much as 150 gallons of water. And where does all that water go (not to mention all the chemicals and contaminants)? Many automatic car washes use reclaimed and recycled water to cut down on consumption and to remove chemicals. But in the yard? Runoff into drains and groundwater reservoirs has a negative environmental impact. A waterless wash mitigates these problems.

Quick, efficient, and better for the environment. Why wouldn’t you use a waterless car wash on your vehicle?

When should you use a waterless car wash?

The question of whether you should or shouldn’t perform a waterless car wash on your vehicle really comes down to the disadvantages of the operation. The truth is, waterless car wash products are safe for use on most cars. But there are a few factors that can render the process less-than-desirable or even downright damaging. And while it is quick and convenient, it does take some time and energy.

For instance, waterless car washing is not effective – nor is it designed for – a really dirty car. If you live in an area where dirt, mud, and salt are regularly attached to the body panels of your vehicle, waterless washes are not usually an option. All of those contaminants, especially in significant quantities, require an appreciable volume of water for safe removal. If you try to use a waterless wash on a heavily-soiled surface, you will only end up smearing the dirt and causing serious scratches.

Improper materials and technique can also cause damage to your paint. High-quality long-pile microfiber towels are recommended for use with waterless wash products; cotton towels are not adequate. How you apply the product and wipe it away needs to be done in a particular way to avoid scratching.

While a waterless car wash is not overly complicated, and it is relatively quick and convenient (compared to a full-scale hand washing), it does take time and effort. Waterless methods do not bear the same convenience of automatic car washes, where the entire process is done in about seven minutes.

So, when would you consider a waterless car wash? It is quick and convenient, but not as quick and convenient as a drive-through wash. It is environmentally-friendly, but it is not appropriate for a heavily-soiled vehicle.

Actually, you might consider a waterless car wash if your car is already really clean. Cars that make the best candidates for waterless washes are those that have been prepared in advance through paint correction and protective coating, usually during professional detailing. Paint correction includes the removal of pollutants using a clay bar and machine polishing the clearcoat to remove microscopic scratches, dull paint and oxidation. Protection refers to the application of polymer sealant, wax, or ceramic coatings to prevent contaminants from sticking to the surface.

If you are already meticulous in the manner in which you keep your car – if your is clean and stays clean – it could be a candidate for a waterless wash. But if you drive on messy and sloppy streets, or someone could draw a smiley face in the dust on your vehicle, waterless washes are really not for you.

Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright

This article is intended only as a general guidance document and relying on its material is at your sole risk. By using this general guidance document, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash and its affiliates from and against any and all claims, damages, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising from or related to your use of this guidance document. To the extent fully permissible under applicable law, Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the information, content, or materials included in this document. This reservation of rights is intended to be only as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the laws of your State of residence.

COLUMBIA AUTO CARE & CAR WASH
|
Copyright

This article is intended only as a general guidance document and relying on its material is at your sole risk. By using this general guidance document, you agree to defend, indemnify and hold harmless Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash and its affiliates from and against any and all claims, damages, costs and expenses, including attorneys’ fees, arising from or related to your use of this guidance document. To the extent fully permissible under applicable law, Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash makes no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, as to the information, content, or materials included in this document. This reservation of rights is intended to be only as broad and inclusive as is permitted by the laws of your State of residence.