Waterless Car Wash Products – Do They Really Work?

Meguiar's G3626 Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax, 26 Fluid OuncesIn recent years it has been a rare occurrence if a month has gone by where we have not been approached by a company looking for us to stock their new waterless car wash product.

Some extol the virtues of the “environmentally friendly” properties of the product, although reading up on many these mainly relate to the fact that it is saving water, rather than the make-up of the product itself.

Others talk up the cleaning properties of the waterless car wash products, although very few seem to go so far as to guarantee not to cause swirl marks on your paintwork.

So far I have resisted these products – but am I being too traditional? I admit we have always believed that for the safest wash possible as much as the dirt and grime should be washed off the vehicle with water, prior to the use of a good quality car shampoo  and lambswool (or microfibre) wash mitt.

I agree that where we are talking giving the paintwork a final prep, having been driven to a show, then a good quality detailing spray and microfibre cloth will work wonders to restore the shine, but to do a regular weekly wash with a waterless product makes me a very nervous.

Many of the waterless car wash products claim to contain advanced wetting agents and emulsifiers which are meant to soften the dirt and grime on the car and encase each particle in a microscopic lubricated coating and lifting it from the surface of the paint, ready to be wiped away with microfibre towel or other suitable material.

But can such ingredients really and truly prevent the particle from swirling the surface of the paint as it is being wiped away?

Having had so many approaches I have finally succumbed to the possibility there may be something in the claims made by the manufacturers of these products and will be looking to test one or two over the winter. As soon as I have finished testing I will let you know the results in a further blog post.

Over To You

In the meantime I would be very interested to hear of your own thoughts and experiences with such waterless car wash products, especially if you have tried any of the ones below. Have you found they live up to their claims, have you found that they do or don’t cause swirls, have you got any photos or video? Please let me know.

Bestseller No. 1
Chemical Guys CWS20916 Swift Wipe Waterless Car Wash, 16. Fluid_Ounces
  • Wash, enhance shine, and protect in one step
  • Can be used on painted surfaces, wheels, glass, clear optical plastic, textured plastic, bumpers and window trim, exhaust tips, engine bays, door jambs, and more
  • Wash your car anywhere, anytime
  • Designed to produce a scratch-free, swirl-free shine
  • Perfect for any color vehicle
Bestseller No. 2
Meguiar's G3626 Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax, 26 Fluid Ounces
6,549 Reviews
Meguiar's G3626 Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax, 26 Fluid Ounces
  • ONE EASY STEP: Premium formula conveniently and gently washes and adds wax protection in one easy step. Can be used anywhere with no hose, bucket, or rinsing
  • WATER SPOT-FREE: Advanced chemistry contains a water spot-free formula coupled with a high-lubricity that protects the surface against swirling and scratching as it gently cleans
  • LONG-LASTING BARRIER: Advanced polymer chemistry leaves behind a glossy, synthetic wax barrier that lasts weeks
  • SAFE FOR GLOSSY PAINTS: Is safe and effective on all glossy paints and clear coat finishes, glass, chrome, polished metals, and plastic trim.
  • NO EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Ideal for those who do not have access to a hose, live in a city, or apartment, or are under water restrictions
Bestseller No. 3
Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit 144 Ounces. Aircraft Quality for Your Car, RV, Boat, Motorcycle. The Best Wash Wax. Anywhere, Anytime, Home, Office, School, Garage, Parking Lots.
  • SIMPLY THE BEST WATERLESS CAR WASH. Gently Cleans and Protects while leaving a Non-Stick UV Protective Coating on All Vehicle surfaces. Also, excellent for cleaning and protecting all other waxes, sealants, and ceramic coatings. Just Spray on and Wipe Dry. Wash and Wax Anywhere, Anytime, Parking Lots, Garages, Work, School, Apartments, RV Parks, and more. Use as a Waterless Wash and Wax as You Dry your just washed Vehicle. 128oz will Waterless Wash up to 24 cars or Wax As You Dry 36 cars.
  • Highly performance Aircraft Quality Wax for your Car, Boat, and RV. ONCE YOU SEE THE DIFFERENCE YOU WILL NEVER USE AUTOMOTIVE PRODUCTS AGAIN! Used by Air Force One, Marine One, NASA, The Military, Airlines, Corporate and private aircraft owners around the world for over 33 years. This is a high quality easy to use product.
  • Water Based - Alcohol & Ammonia Free. Our plant-based Eco-friendly formula is biodegradable and Safe on ALL surfaces both Inside and Out. Meets Boeing Aircraft (D6-17487P, D6-7127M), Airbus Industries (09-00-002), and McDonnell Douglass CDS #1 cleaning specifications. Also, Human Friendly, NO eye or skin irritation like some other automotive products
  • Kit includes 1 full gallon of Wash Wax ALL, 1 full 16 oz spray bottle of Wash Wax ALL, 4 Microfiber Towels (16 in x 16 in), a Product Guide, and How to Use Guide.
  • ⚠️ Note: Understand that this is a Wash and Wax Product. Wax will protect and enhance the shine you currently have. If you have dull, oxidized, or scratched finish you will need a Polish to address those issues. WAX IS FOR PROTECTION; POLISH IS FOR CORRECTION. Our polish is called Polish ALL and is also available on Amazon. 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE. If you are not getting 5 star results out of this 5-star product, please give us a chance to correct the issue. Please contact us.
SaleBestseller No. 4
Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine - 32 oz. - NR2010Q
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine contains exclusive blend of high lubricating polymers that bond to paint while releasing dirt and grime for a safe, brilliant finish
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine allows car washing virtually anywhere, anytime
  • Get a brilliant shine using only one or two gallons of water
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine is preferred by professional car detailers and enthusiasts for faster, cleaner results
  • Safe for any vehicle surface on cars, trucks, motorcycles, RVs, ORVs, fiberglass or wood boats and airplanes
Bestseller No. 5
SHINE ARMOR Fortify Quick Coat - Ceramic Coating - Car Wax Polish Spray - Waterless Car Wash & Wax - Hydrophobic Top Coat Polish & Polymer Paint Sealant Detail Protection
  • Advanced 3 in 1 Formula. Our Fortify Quick Coat is your all in one ceramic coating hydrophobic spray. Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat ceramic car wax provides a waterless wash, coat and shine, all in one convenient product.
  • No Streaking, Smearing, or Scratching. Shine Armor Fortify Quick Coat premium formula ceramic car coating is a gentle and effective car polish for any vehicle! Get a clean, shiny finish without hurting your car's paint.
  • Cuts Dirt, Grime, and Grease. Our Quick Coat ceramic wax car sealant eliminates dirt, grime & grease instantly! Our signature 3-in-1 formula gives you a waterless car wash, coat and shine for a clean, showcase look.
  • Safe for All Surfaces. Use this car wax spray on automobiles, boats, motorbikes, RVs, four wheelers and more! This spray wax is the perfect blend of surfactants and SiO2 ceramic-coating science.
  • Superior Products. This means superior shine for your cars! Our ceramic quick coat also works as a sealer to give your vehicle a clear shield of protection while also providing a beautiful gloss. Our ceramic coat is the best hydrophobic car spray available!

 

14 Comments

  • roger gale or ttautodetailing
    Posted October 1, 2010 2:52 pm 0Likes

    After using on a trial base a few waterless products, I have come to my own conclusion that waterless has its place as you mentioned with cars that need a final prep to remove dust and fine dirt.

    I have found that ONR (Optimum no rinse) is a fantastic product. I have used it for many months and love the way it is mixed in a bucket like a traditional shampoo mix but then no need to rinse off like suds, just buff the car for a safe shine with a microfibre. This product really does bridge the gap between loads of water being wasted and a waterless system in my opinion.

    Very, very economical with little pollution into any storm drains.

    Roger Gale
    TT AUTODETAILING SERVICES
    http://www.tt-auto-detailing.co.uk

  • Alan Smith
    Posted October 2, 2010 1:11 pm 0Likes

    I have used Pro Shine Waterless wash and wax,
    on my Toyota’s Metallic paint for four year and now on my Mercedes.
    I have not had any of the swirl damage that most seem to think will happen,
    just a really good shine,
    I have found it particularly useful after parking under sappy trees it get straight under the goo, wipes off then buffs up to a shine,
    gets the gunge and brake dust off wheels without the need of those acid type cleaners that I used to use just spray on all the wheels then wipe off
    buff to a shine, no scrubbing no gloves or goggles

    • John Watson
      Posted October 8, 2010 8:17 pm 0Likes

      I have been using a product called Showroom shine which is what Pro shine used to be called. I have used it on my 3 previous cars and Iam using it on my current car, It is an amazing product to use and none of my cars have developed swirl marks.I have a number of friends that wont use any thing else.
      The great thing is ,the more times you use it the less dirt seems to stick to your paintwork. I use it to clean all areas of my car including the windscreen with no smearing when it rains

      • Sean Poyser
        Posted March 13, 2012 11:19 am 0Likes

        Showroom Shine is not what ProShine Spray & Shine used to be called, regardless of what GL say.

        ProShine Spray & Shine is still available from their website http://www.proshine.co.uk

        It is better value that Showroom Shine, and still gives better results!

  • Jon Rome
    Posted October 4, 2010 3:13 pm 0Likes

    I have been using WoW (With out Water) for some months now. It was demonstrated at the Matching Green Classic & Sports Car Club Annual Show in July 2010 when it first went on sale.
    Unlike the other comments you have posted, this is truly waterless (well ok, you have to wash the microfibre cloths).
    It is simply a matter of putting a fine spray on a panel at a time, wait a few seconds, wipe off with one of the cloths supplied & then buff up with the other. It is extremely easy to use & I’ve found it even works on red hot paintwork.
    It is advertised as no scratch & I certainly think it lives up to the claim. I’ve taken off thick dried-on mud & seen no sign of scratching.

    It not only works well on paint but is excellent on chrome & glass, especially as apparently it contains no silicone.

    I use it on my everyday 4×4, 2 Jaguar XJS’s, Jaguar XK8 & Rover 2000. My wife refuses to use anything else on her Jag S type.

    Spiders are now living peacefully in my pressure washer.

    I’d put a couple of photos here if I knew how to!

  • Ashley
    Posted October 8, 2010 3:53 pm 0Likes

    Optimum no rinse is a great product and I’ve been using it for over a year and found not difference compared to doing a two bucket wash. To my surprise it does not cause swirls.
    But I will add it is not a true waterless wash because you still add it to a bucket of water as said above. The only difference is there is no rinsing.

    Great product if your on a water meter!

    • Doug Sinnott
      Posted September 16, 2012 6:39 pm 0Likes

      Go the whole hog,and go waterless,you won’t go back,I didn’t!
      See my comment!

  • chris
    Posted September 1, 2011 10:53 am 0Likes

    i have used AquaZero on my Peugeot 207 for quite some time now & have been really amazed with the results that it has given I was a little hesitant when I first started using it but since I have started using the product at concourse events the car has won a few prizes which it never did before.

    I use the product all over the vehicle from roof to sill & everything in between (including the windows – inside & out).

    I would stongly urge anyone who hasnt seen the product to visit the site (www.drymotive.com) & if they require any picture give me a shout i’ll quite happily share with you how my car turned out

    email @ [email protected]

  • Jon Romer
    Posted August 5, 2012 8:06 am 0Likes

    I have used a number of waterless products on my 17 daily Mercedes, my 42 4×4’s, my private jet and my 4 speedboats. My wife won’t let me near her 69 Porsches with anything else. I also find it works really well on my head – it is enormous and is good for large surface areas

  • Doug Sinnott
    Posted September 16, 2012 6:36 pm 0Likes

    I was a doubter I must admit!
    Having been cleaning my cars for over 40 years the traditional way,with shampoo,chamois leathers,good quality car polishes,and,of course,plenty of water,I couldn’t believe these products could be that good!
    However,watching a shopping channel one day,I watched a demo of “Showroom Shine”,a waterless car cleaner.
    My wife persuaded me to buy some,and once I’d used it,I was hooked!
    It does everything they claim,and,using microfibre cloths,it doesn’t scratch,it cleans off bird droppings,tar,etc.,can be used in bright sunshine(unlike some car polishes!),and it really does give a fantastic shine to your bodywork!
    It also can clean your double glazing,car windows,alloy wheels,chrome trim,mirrors,in fact most hard surfaces,and just makes life so much easier.
    So all you traditionalists,I’ve been using this polish for over two years now,in all kinds of conditions,and can’t fault it.
    Definitely no “swirl marks”,or white residue anywhere,and,NO scratches(I still don’t really understand how it works!),but,every 6 months or so,I do go over the car with the power wash,to clean the wheel arches,and the little crevices,and when dry,finish off with “Showroom Shine”,which is much better than doing it every week or so!
    And the car does keep cleaner,for longer,so you just can’t go wrong with this polish.
    Just try it,you’d be as surprised as I was!

  • Jack
    Posted November 24, 2012 10:53 am 0Likes

    Greased lightning showroom shine is 10x better than a conventional car washing system

  • andy w
    Posted February 19, 2013 9:36 pm 0Likes

    Just ordered my second lot of showroom shine ( I may be spraying to much on), I am converted for use on the caravan with excellent results. I have done my partners car and mine with no sign of the dreaded swirl. alloys too come up good. excellent around door ways etc as now water spray into foot-wells or on seats.

    You need to have plenty of good quality micro-fibre cloths and don’t try to make them last longer than necessary, once dirty change immediately, keeping best clothes for polishing. used a total of five clothes to clean my Santa Fe progressively using the ‘polish’ cloth as the ‘cleaning’ cloth as they become dirty.

    Down side is not removing dirt from nooks and crannies, wheel arches, inner rims on alloys. but as an in-between quick valet the results are great.

  • Reg Hayes
    Posted June 7, 2014 10:20 am 0Likes

    I have been using waterless wax products since March 2010 and that was the last date I washed my car with water, I still have the same car.

  • Alistair Scott
    Posted October 6, 2015 2:49 pm 0Likes

    People are getting too hung up on the possibility of swirls and scratches etc. Anyone who has used Showroom shine will know that very little effort is required to lift any dirt, gritty or not. I reckon that using a soapy sponge and water is potentially more likely to scratch the paintwork. If you follow the instructions by continually turning the cloth round to a clean area, there is absolutely no danger of damaging the paintwork. The product is brilliant, and at this time of year when the sun is low, no other product will give you such an immaculately clean windscreen.

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