How to Give Your Vehicle a Waterless Car Wash

One of the easiest car maintenance tasks you can do at home is giving your car a good wash. Automatic car washes aren’t exactly expensive, but they have been unfriendly toward certain cars. Of course, it can be difficult to wash your car if you don’t have a great hose or pressure washer.

Additionally, you also need to wash your car on a day where it can sit outside to dry off. For convenience’s sake, many people opt to use waterless car wash products instead. Washos breaks down how these cleaners work and how to give your vehicle the best waterless car wash.

What’s inside the spray?

A person washing a car as part of a black car wash dressed in a blue hazmat style suit in an outdoor setting with a yellow tent in the background.
A person participating in a car wash | Getty Images

These products can either be water-based or be composed of standard automotive cleaning ingredients. What makes them special is a blend of high-lubricity chemicals designed to lift dirt and grime directly off of your car. The extra lubricants also make it easier for towels to glide across your car’s body panels, buffing out stains without damaging the paint.

Waterless car wash spray does have its limitations, as it cannot effectively remove caked-on mud. However, many people take their vehicles through heavy-duty car washes that use gallons of water for far less dirt! On the other hand, you only need about six ounces of waterless car wash spray to clean most large SUVs.

How to give your car a waterless car wash

You’ll need a waterless car washing spray of your choice, some clean microfiber towels, and a small bucket of water. There are plenty of options for car washing sprays, but Washos recommends Meguiar’s. Chemicals Guys automotive products are also very reliable, and Triplewax is always a good low-cost option.

Take one of your towels and fold it in half twice so that you have eight clean areas. Each of those sections will clean a specific area of your car.

It would be best if you started with the roof, the side glass, hood and trunk, and the upper halves of the side doors. Next, you’ll clean the front bumper, rear bumper, the lower halves of the doors, and the wheels. Using a completely new towel when cleaning the brakes is recommended, as these can have brake pad fluid residue.

Spray the washing solution on your towel and wipe it gently onto the body panel. If one part of the towel becomes too dirty during the cleaning, swap it out for a brand new towel. Dirty microfiber towels can leave scratches on your car! 

You should always wipe in one direction, as a circular motion can make dirt accumulate. After each wipe, use another dry microfiber cloth to buff the area clean. You’ll repeat this process for each part of the vehicle until it’s shiny and clean!

The extra benefits of waterless car washes

Besides the bucket of water used for cleansing your towels, a waterless car wash uses no water. Washos says that, on average, it takes up to 140 gallons of water to wash a car with a hose! Even an automatic car wash wastes around 45 gallons of water per car.

Many people also don’t realize the environmental impacts of DIY car washes. You need to wash it outside, so you’re just releasing tons of car oil fumes into the atmosphere. You’ll also inevitably waste a ton of water in the process, plus cause your water bill to skyrocket that month. 

Most waterless car wash sprays last for eight to twelve months after one application. Unlike regular car washes, you’re also protecting and polishing your vehicle simultaneously. 

A standard car wash isn’t nearly as thorough, so many recommend washing your vehicle every few weeks. If you don’t have the time or room in your budget, a waterless car wash might be the best alternative.

RELATED: Common Car Washing Practices That Will Ruin Your Car