Ditch the Hose & Bucket! The Best Waterless Car Wash Products, Tested

Here are the best information about Waterless car wash public topics compiled and compiled by our team

Video Waterless car wash

This story was updated on June 28, 2022, with new products and information.

Not everyone has the time or desire to wash their car regularly, and frequent trips to the automatic car wash can get expensive. Not only that, but repetitive runs through a car wash can remove wax and create swirl marks in the paint. If your car is covered in only a small amount of dirt or dust, a waterless car wash may be the handiest way to give it a quick cleanup.

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Waterless car wash products are premixed spray solutions specially designed to clean your car without the hassle of a hose and bucket. They typically come in a portable spray bottle, perfect for keeping in the garage or trunk for quick touch-ups and fast car cleaning. Simply spray the dirty areas of the car with the waterless car wash solution and wipe clean (preferably with a clean microfiber towel). Better still, do the entire car at the same time for a complete job.

While a conventional car wash is still the best way to clean the dirtiest rides, a waterless car wash is simpler, cheaper, faster, less wasteful, and more convenient. If you’re looking for the best waterless wash, keep reading—we tested a handful of our favorites below.

The Best Car Wax for Your Ride

What Is Waterless Car Wash?

Think of it like an automotive furniture polish, specially formulated to capture and lift dirt and dust away from a surface. Naturally, a waterless car wash product isn’t the ideal solution to car cleaning. But if you’re in a hurry and need a quick cleanup, or you’re away from a hose and bucket or a proper car wash, it’s a fantastic way to quickly spruce up your ride.

Clearly, wiping anything on your vehicle runs the risk of scratches. But the best waterless car washes are made to be gentle and leave a smooth finish. Put it this way: It’s far riskier to wipe away plain old water from a simple garden hose. Still, we can’t recommend using a waterless car wash product if you think you’ll magically restore a faded rustbucket with it. Waterless car wash works best on newer cars that are consistently washed, waxed, and maintained.

Many of the waterless car wash products on the market, and several we tested, contain a wax formulation for a quick, high-gloss shine. A reminder here that wax is not equivalent to polish, so don’t expect deep scratches, heavy scuffs, or longtime scars to simply disappear when you use this stuff.

The Best Car Wash Soap

How Do I Use Waterless Car Wash?

Whenever you’re wiping something, anything, on your car’s paint, you want to avoid scratches and swirls. This is doubly true for a waterless wash.

Just like when washing with a hose and bucket, you want to avoid using waterless wash products in direct sunlight on a hot surface. Using a spray bottle, apply the waterless car wash spray evenly. Fold your microfiber towel (always use microfiber towels) and wipe slowly and gently, turning the towel as you go so you’re always applying a fresh, dry, clean portion of the towel to your car’s finish and not grinding the grime you just wiped off back onto the surface of the paint.

For the best waterless car wash you can get, avoid swirling and sweeping motions with your arm; it’s harder to keep a dry, clean section of your towel on the surface when you go back and forth or in circles. When you apply waterless car wash product smoothly and gently, your entire car (or, at least, part of it) will look like it just came from the auto detail shop.

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How We Tested Waterless Car Wash Products

We tested all of these waterless car wash products in the Car and Driver garage on a variety of dirty cars and also cycled them into our regular photography routine, because we often need quick, on-the-spot cleanups. While we did rank these cleaning products—just as we rank the vehicles in our comparison tests—we found that all provided satisfactory results. There are subtle differences, but we would recommend any of the waterless wash products below.

Some waterless car washes come in concentrate form; these require dilution with water in a separate spray bottle, but they are cheaper per ounce than the premixed cleaners. No matter which route you go, you’ll be amazed at how easy it is to remove dirt particles, bird droppings, and road grime from your car without a traditional car wash.

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