While washing your car with water is the only option if your car is really dirty or if you want to detail and polish it, waterless cleaning is the ultimate choice for a quick cleanup. It’s an awesome solution to clean a lightly soiled car. If you wash your car waterless every week or every two weeks, you’ll cut back on car wash costs dramatically too! It’s also perfect to clean a classic car to prevent rust formation caused by water trapped in cracks and crevices.
What’s so great about waterless car cleaning is that you don’t need anything but some towels and your waterless cleaning spray to get the job done. You can do it anywhere in any kind of weather. You won’t get wet and you don’t have to lug buckets and hoses around. It’ll only take about 15 minutes and you can even do it in your Sunday best… As a bonus, you’ll also be doing your wallet and the environment a favor by not using (40-100!) gallons of tap water!
How can you not love this car wash technique?
Let us show you how it works:
How to Wash your Car without Water like a Professional Detailer
1. Park your car in the shade, away from trees
The heat from direct sun softens your car paint in summer, making it more prone to abrasion and scratches.
Intense sunlight will also evaporate your product before you can work it, potentially leaving marks and spots. That’s why you should never wash your car in direct sunlight on a warm summer’s day.
However, in late autumn or early spring the sun is too weak to heat your car paint, so you should be OK. Gently touch the car surface to make sure it isn’t hot and use common sense.
If you don’t have a place in the shade, it’s better to wash your car on an overcast day or early in the morning when it’s cool.
It’s not a good idea to park your car under trees when you’re washing it either. There’s always stuff falling from trees like tree sap, dead foliage, bird droppings… If this stuff accidentally gets caught in your towel while cleaning, it will scratch your car paint.
2. Everything you need to wash your car without water
Right, now that your car is parked in the best possible spot, what do you need to get the job done?
- electrostatic duster (optional but recommended)
- edgeless microfiber towels (4-6 pcs)
- budget microfiber towels (to clean your wheels with instead of using your more expensive edgeless microfiber towels, only use these if you don’t have scratch-prone custom wheels)
- car wash spray
Here’s how to clean your car waterless in 5 easy steps
Step 1: Spray your wheels and tires with car wash spray
Start with the dirtiest part of your car: the wheels and tires.
Spray them abundantly with car wash spray and let them soak for about 30 seconds but don’t let the product dry.
Try to avoid spraying on brake discs or brake pads because this might very temporarily have a negative influence on your braking power, just like when you exit a commercial car wash.
Step 2: Wipe your wheels and tires dry
Dry your wheels and tires with microfiber towels. Flip to a clean side when the towel is dirty. Never (re)use a dirty towel, it will scratch your paint!
For tires and standard wheels that are not prone to scratching, you can use budget microfiber towels because it is the dirtiest part of the car. This nasty brake dust and road grime can be hard to wash from your towels and sometimes won’t come off entirely.
That’s why you might not wanna use your high quality towels for this job, unless you have super fragile custom wheels.
Never use “normal” wheel cleaning agents without rinsing with water afterwards, because these acidic products might damage your wheels and paint and cause corrosion if they are left to dry!
Step 3: Swipe your car with an electrostatic duster (optional step but highly recommended)
Swipe the rest of your car very gently in a hovering motion with an electrostatic duster, applying no pressure at all to prevent scratching the paint. Dust off as much dust and grit as possible. Don’t mind the very fine dust, it’s the coarse stuff that scratches you want to get rid of before proceeding to the next step.
If you skip this step, your microfiber towel will pick up those sand and coarse particles during the cleaning process, marring and scratching your top coat as a result.
Step 4: Clean your car with car wash spray in 2’ x 2’ areas
Always work from the top down and from the cleanest parts to the dirtiest when you clean your car. Work in small, slightly overlapping 2’ x 2’ areas.
Fold your edgeless microfiber towel in half, then again in half to get the most out of it. By flippin’ and folding it you’ll get 8 clean surfaces to work with from this one towel.
If you drop your towel, it’s for the laundry bin because it will have picked up sand and sharp dirt particles that will scratch your paint.
Spray one area at a time without letting the product dry and swipe in gentle, linear strokes instead of random swiping movements. This prevents swirl marks. Minute scratches will also be less visible in direct sunlight, especially on dark colored paint.
Move on to the next area, and so on… it’s as easy as it gets…
Again: always wipe with a fresh, clean side of the microfiber towel to prevent scratches.
Step 5: Admire your work
You can’t believe your car looks this good in 15 minutes with this little effort and such basic tools, can you?