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.


  1. may I know where you bought it? I found it in lazada and amazon. wondering where you get it. Do you still remember the price? Thanks

    1. Hi there. Which product are you referring to? If it's Ultima, I got mine from Lazada for around RM180 if I'm not mistaken.

    2. i see. Lazada is selling for RM230+ now for Ultima. I've ordered from Amazon, after conversion, is about RM190+

    3. Great. With the dilution ratio of Ultima it's quite with it.