Sunday, May 29, 2016

Waterless Car Wash

I am going to start off with the most simplest way in washing a car. Waterless car wash. The are many people who are confused between rinseless car wash and waterless car wash.

In rinseless car wash, we still need buckets of water and your car porch or drive yard will get wet. It is almost the same as a normal car wash except that we do not use a hose to water the car before and after wash. The washing process starts with a dry car. There will be a bucket containing car shampoo (specifically meant for rinseless car wash) and a second bucket of clear water. This is like a 2 bucket wash method of a traditional car wash. The wash mitt will be dunked into the bucket with the car shampoo and then used to clean the car surface. The car is cleaned panel by panel. Once a panel is cleaned, we use a clean dry microfiber towel to wipe it dry. No rinsing required. Hence rinseless car wash. I will write more about this in future post. For now, lets focus on waterless car wash.

In waterless car wash, a product is sprayed onto the car surface and wipe off to dry. It is almost the same as using a quick detailer except that a quick detailer is used to remove light dust and finger print. Waterless car wash can be used to wash heavier soiled car without the risk of scratching and marring the car paint or clear coat. I guess with the introduction of these car wash, quick retailer will become a thing of the past.

Waterless Wash Products

These are my arsenal for waterless wash. Strictly speaking both the Optimum No Rinse Wash & Wax (in the Detailien bottle) and Optimum No Rinse Wash & Shine are rinseless car wash and not waterless wash products. However, on the label, both of them can be used as a quick detailer. So I included them in.


I have tried using both Optimum products as waterless car wash but I am not impressed with their performance. Well they are really good rinseless washes and that are what they will be. Heck, they are sold as rinseless washes anyway.That was before I used Meguiar's Wash & Wax Anywhere and Ultima Waterless Plus. From now on, I will be using both the Optimum products purely as rinseless wash.

So let's move on to the real deal.

Meguiar's and Ultima. Both these products are wonderful. Typically, a waterless car wash product will have special "ingredients" to suspend dirt from car surfaces and encapsulate the dirt. These actions prevents the car surfaces from being scratched during the wiping action. It is crucial to use a good microfiber towel. Microfiber towels have properties that lift up dirt and trap them in the fibers. That is why microfiber towels are the gold standard in car care. For waterless car wash, a plush microfiber towel would be ideal.

Both Meguiar's and Ultima come with some kind of wax blended inside as the car surface feels slick after washing.

Ultima Waterless Wash Plus Concentrate

Meguiar's Wash & Wax Anywhere

Usually, I will use 2 microfiber towels for waterless car wash. The first microfiber will be used to wipe off the dirt. This will usually be a plush microfiber towel. The second towel is used to buff the surface dry. This can be a normal microfiber towel.

 To start off, I will demo waterless washing for this post on my daily drive.

This is the level of dirt on my car before washing. Always start the wash from the top to the bottom of the car. I ask just using this panel for start for demo purposes.

First, fold the plush microfiber towel into quarter (fold twice). It will be ideal to rinse the towel and wring it dry beforehand.

Then spray product onto panel. In heavier soiled panel, let the product sit a few seconds.

Gently wipe with the plush microfiber towel. It is important to wipe only in one direction to pick up the dirt. Do not press hard and do not scrub.

After wiping, you will notice that the leading edge of the microfiber towel will pick up all the dirt. In subsequent wipes, lift the dirty edge slightly and wipe. This will expose a clean leading edge of the microfiber towel into the car surface.

When a surface of the microfiber towel is full with dirty lines, flip to a new face. Use all 8 faces of the towel. Repeat the process until the entire car is cleaned. If the towel is fully soiled before the car is fully cleaned, use another towel or rinse the same towel clean and use it again.

Use another dry microfiber to buff the clean surface dry.

Cleaned car.

Before I end this post, I would like to discuss something about cost. When I first started to wash my cars waterlessly, I used Meguiar's (after experimenting with Optimum No Rinse Wash). As I mentioned, it is a great product but the price is also very high. I live in Malaysia and things aren't cheap here.

It is RM92 for 26oz. Roughly US$23 per bottle. Because of the price I tried to search for alternatives. Searching online, I found Optimum Opti-Clean. It was kind of hard to get here but available online. Opti-Clean is available ready to use or concentrated with 1:4 dilution ratio. When I was about to purchase it, I found Ultima Waterless Wash Plus Concentrate. The dilution ratio blew me away. 1/2 oz to 22 oz water. It is available online and offers the best value for money. I was skeptical of the reviews but after using it, I will stay.

One last thing. It is important to use clean water to dilute these products. Most people recommend either distilled water or reverse osmosis water. This water is easily available as bottled drinking water.

So here you go. You can wash your car in 10-15 minutes without making your car porch wet. Can this tempt you to wash your own car?

Update - 18th June 2016: I have added another waterless wash product to my arsenal. Read it here.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Wheel Cleaners

I am going to start off with the wheels. If I am doing a full wash, I will always start from the wheels. But wait, full wash? Well, I am just going to touch a wee bit on this. There are several ways that I wash my cars: (1) Full wash with car shampoo and rinse off with water. (2) Rinseless wash. (3) Waterless wash. To go down even deeper, full wash can be just normal full wash or decontaminate full wash (prep for polishing). If you are confused, just ignore the wash category for now.

Yes, I start washing from the wheels. There are some people who wash the wheels last. I used to do that before I started buying wheel cleaners. I would use the left over car shampoo for washing the car and some dirty microfiber cloth to wash the wheels. But after some time, I realized that some tough dirt would not come off. It was then I started using dedicated wheel cleaners. That is when I started to wash the wheels first. You see, wheel cleaners are stronger than car shampoo and some car shampoo claimed to have some sort of protection on the car paint (we will go into that in future posts). So it make sense for me to wash the wheels first, rinse off, then shampoo the car. There is no right or wrong for this and it is up to personal preferences.

When I started using wheel cleaners, I did not know the damages some wheel cleaners can to alloy rims and brake calipers. But after following some gurus like Larry Kosilla from AMMO NYC, I began to understand the effects of harsh chemicals on car wheels. So I started to be cautious when buying wheel cleaners. Only buy from reputable makes.

So without further a due, I will check the pH of a few of my favorite wheel cleaners. Before creating this blog, I did not check them but trusted the manufacturer claims and lets see what we have below.

Wheel cleaners

From right to left: Autoglym Clean Wheels, 3M Wheel & Tire Cleaner, Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner, and Turtlewax F21 Wheel Cleaner.

Autoglym Clean Wheels description from manufacturer
"Clean Wheels is the perfect cleaner for regular alloy wheels.

The fast acting formula removes dirt and brake dust from your wheels quickly, effectively and safely.

Clean Wheels is suitable for lacquered alloy, painted and plastic finishes. If your wheels are a different finish, use Custom Wheel Cleaner instead."

3M Wheel & Tire Cleaner description from manufacturer
"Safely cleans wheels and tires in one easy step
Safe for use on clear coated wheels
Rinse away contaminants to reveal clean wheels and tires
Cleans soil and scuffs from tire side walls and leaves wheels with a brilliant shine."

Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner description from manufacturer
"Certain wheel types are manufactured from chemically sensitive metals. Traditional wheel cleaners cannot be used and an acid free cleaner is required.

Custom Wheel Cleaner is suitable for all wheel types including alloy, lacquered alloy, steel, chrome, painted, anodised and plastic finishes."

Turtlewax F21 Wheel Cleaner description from manufacturer
"Quickly penetrates and removes tough brake dust and road grime from all wheel surfaces
Acid free formula will not damage sensitive wheel surfaces and is completely biodegradable and phosphate free
Safe for all wheels including mag, chrome and aluminum
Advanced nanotechnology formula quickly penetrates and removes tough brake dust and road grime from all wheel surfaces"

So let's take a look at all the results.

Autoglym Clean Wheels

Well, this seems pretty acidic to me. In fact it is way too acidic. So how can this be safe to your wheels? I am shock to see this. Look like I will stop using this.

3M Wheel & Tire Cleaner

Well, this one is alkaline. Say in pH9. Regular soap tends to be alkali. I think this would be safer on the wheels and your hands.

Autoglym Custom Wheel Cleaner

It seems that Autoglym wheel cleaners stand in two extreme end of the spectrum. One is way too acidic and another is all the wax up to pH14. I guess I won't be using Autoglym wheel cleaners in future. I believe that strong alkali is no good to the wheels and tires.

Turtle Wax F21 Wheel Cleaner

I would say this is in pH9, It's almost the same like 3M and for the price, this will most likely be my go-to wheel cleaner.

And to sum up, all the wheels cleaners tested have the same cleaning ability. I do not see one edging out after another. I am not sure if I can find a pH neutral (7) wheel cleaner but for me, I will definitely go to a wheel cleaner closest to neutral. 

Update - 8th July 2016: I found a good pH neutral wheel cleaner here.

Sunday, May 22, 2016


I have been cleaning my cars; and my wife's car; since 2012. It may not seems long ago but I thought that I should record things down and share it with others who are interested to become a weekend detailer or a driveway/ car porch detailer like myself.

To start off, I do not consider myself as a professional detailer but rather as an enthusiast. I will buy different products and try them. There are a few professional "gurus" that I refer to for guide and references. In this blog, I will share some of my thoughts and methods in washing and detailing cars from the outside to the inside and from the wheels to the windshield. My methods might not be perfect but I get NO swirl marks and light scratches on my cars and I guess that are some of the most important things in car detailing. Defect-free. Of course, good car detailing will not prevent stone-chips. For that, one might need to go for coating or clear-bra. Since I am a more traditional car care guy with a tight budget, I will not be going into those.

Moving on, I will post write-ups on various car care methods, tools, and products that I used. So, I look forward to a good start and please support me by sharing this blog if you think it is useful.
Thank you.