Waterless Auto Detailing:
Try it once and never go back!

best-auto-detailing-tips

Whether you want to call this waterless auto detailing, or waterless car washing doesn't matter, it is all based around the concept of washing or detailing without water...or very little water.

Waterless car washing is simply replacing traditional car washing of soap and water, to using a product that can be sprayed onto your car to break down superficial dirt and grime which is then wiped away with a clean towel or rag. Waterless auto detailing is simply incorporating this technique into the complete detailing process. The concept is both new to most, and comes with much heated debate over traditional car washing methods and this waterless approach. Let's break the subject down to see if this might be an alternative for you!


What You Will Be Learning

  • The Q. and A. of waterless auto detailing.
  • Preparing your car first, before you can use waterless detailing and washing products and methods.
  • A helpful tip to extend all your cosmetic surface car care efforts.
  • Darren's top picks for waterless washing and detailing products.


Understanding Waterless Auto Detailing
Q. and A.

Q. What exactly is waterless auto detailing or waterless washing?

A. Compare your car to that of a fine piece of wooden furniture you have in your house. Waterless car washing products would be the equivalent of using a spray furniture dusting polish; you spray the dusty piece of furniture and then wipe clean. The same concept is used on your cars paint surface.

Q. How does this process work?

A. Manufacturers claim to have ingredients within these products that dissolve, loosen, soften, and encapsulate the dirt and dust particles whereby you can simply wipe with soft micro-fiber towel that leaves surface clean and beautiful.

Q. Will this process scratch my paint?

waterless-auto-detailing

A. The exact operation of this process is done by encapsulating, or emulsifying the dirt and dust particles with these spray-on liquid products. Of course you could apply this same process through the use of simply spraying the dirty surface with water itself. Any form of liquid you spray onto a dirty surface would aid in breaking down and suspending the dirt and dust particles. It is simply through specific use of chemicals that allows this process to be more effective and resulting in better end results. The car care industry has simply applied the concept of furniture dusting by formulating the right chemicals to create these effective waterless auto detailing products.

Q. Why would you want to use one of these products?

A. These products have been created for numerous reasons. These products represent a very effective way to save time and effort by combining both car washing efforts with paint enhancing abilities. These products are now formulated to do both removing dirt and dust, while leaving a layer of protection and shine to a cars paint surface. It is also a way of water and environmental conservation. By not using water with traditional car washing and auto detailing methods, you are not only saving water, but there is no water run-off to contaminate the environment.

Q. Do I recommend this method professionally for use on my personal cars?

A. Yes, absolutely. I am always a big fan of getting better results with minimal efforts, and waterless auto detailing and washing is ideally suited for this. I don't recommend for excessively dirty cars that have been neglected of basic care and maintenance, but this method is ideal for brand new cars, or a car that is in excellent condition and a person is looking to save their time and energy.

waterless-car-detailing

Q. Darren, how would I go about this if I wanted to start using the waterless auto detailing and washing methods?

A. I am glad you asked. Once people adopt this method of car care, I have yet to see anyone go back to old school methods of car washing under normal conditions. There are many parts of the country during winter months where cars simply get too dirty for this waterless auto detailing method to be realistic, but during months of good weather, or here in California, it can be used all year long.

Preparing Your Car First

Regardless of the age of your car, you will have to prepare your car to be in the position to start employing these waterless methods. The good news is that these foundational steps are also the very steps every car needs regardless if you plan on adopting the waterless auto detailing and washing or not!


Step 1- Preparing Paint Surface
for waterless auto detailing

Floating around in the air is all forms of pollution. You can see this build up on your car as layers of dust. Many elements of this pollution have the ability to embed into your cars paint and become a permanent fixture of your paint until you remove it. Normal washing, waxing, and polishing will not remove these embedded pollutants. These pollutants are also what gives your cars paint a gritty or texture feel to it; this is not good!

It is only through the use of detailing clay, or the clay bar, that these embedded pollutants are removed. Just know that it is an important and critical step to preparing the paint surface and I recommend getting yourself a clay bar kit.


Step 2- Sealing and Protecting the Paint
for waterless auto detailing

Once you have prepared the car paint by removing any pollutants (decontaminating the paint), your car paint is now ready to be protected and enhanced visually through the use of car wax. The good news is that car waxing is easier than ever with recent developments in chemical engineering. See my top picks in choosing a top rated car wax.


Extending the Beauty of Your Efforts

Once you have washed, clayed, and waxed your car, it should be smooth as glass with a brilliant shine. Your biggest battle will be ordinary dust that accumulates all day long on your cars surface.

Step 1- Dusting Your Car

This step is optional and a perfect solution for those car enthusiasts that want a clean car more often than not.

These car dusters have been around for decades and are ideal for removing the dust that accumulates on your car within minutes of washing, waxing, or detailing.


Ultimate Car Duster

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Ultimate Car Duster - The Best Microfiber Multipurpose Duster - Exterior or Interior Use - Lint Free - Long Unbreakable Extendable Handle

  • Use the duster to remove dust build up as often as you are willing; once a day, twice a day, three or more times a day.
  • Despite nay-sayers and so called experts, these dusters will not scratch paint and are highly effective for extending any of your waterless car washing and detailing efforts.
  • Not intended to remove mounds of dirt that you have allowed to accumulate over extended periods. Which is a nice way of saying this is not the method to use if you decide to become lazy. Once the dust has accumulated for more than a couple days, it is time to wash the traditional way or using the waterless methods outlined on this page.


The Original Car Duster

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California Car Duster 62442 Standard Car Duster with Wooden Handle

  • The original car duster.
  • Same instructions as with the Ultimate car duster above.
  • The actual duster I use on my own cars. I use once in the morning and once at night.

Darren's Tips: I am a huge fan of car dusters and use them both professionally and personally on my own cars. With that said, there are a few key points you should understand when using these dusters.

  • Not for use on cars that are overly dirty.
  • As a rule, I use these for the removal of light dust only.
  • Not meant to be used on anything but actual dust accumulation.
  • If your car isn't garage kept and collects dew over-night, this is not the tool for you.


Waterless Auto Detailing and Washing Products

Ultima Waterless Wash

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Ultima Waterless Wash Plus Concentrate Kit with Empty Bottle and Sprayer for Auto, Truck, RV, 16 fl. oz.

  • Amazing product.
  • One of my personal favorites.
  • Comes with its own dedicated spray bottle.
  • I mix using distilled water for a higher level of performance.



Pinnacle Liquid Crystal

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Pinnacle Liquid Crystal Waterless Wash Concentrate with Carnauba

  • Another amazing product.
  • Also one of my personal favorites.
  • I mix using distilled water for a higher level of performance.
  • You will need to get a separate spray bottle for this one.



Optimum No-rinse Wash and Wax

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Optimum (NRWW2012Q) No Rinse Wash & Wax - 32 oz.

  • Another amazing product.
  • Once again...one of my personal favorites.
  • I mix using distilled water.
  • See video below for my test using in direct sunlight, on hot paint.
  • See my dedicated page on Optimum no-rinse.



Waterless Buffing Cloths

Likely you are familiar with the amazing textile known as micro-fiber cloths. This textile has changed the detailing industry forever! But not all micro-fibers are created equal and they are not all manufactured for the same purposes in mind.

When it comes to waterless detailing and/or washing, I prefer the thickest micro-fibers available to help trap the dirt you are removing.



Ultra Deluxe Micro-Fiber Wash Cloths:

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Dry Rite Heavy Weight Premium Plush Microfiber Cloth- Ultra Thick- 700 GSM- 14" x 14" Polishing, Detailing, & Cleaning Towel for Fine Automobile Surfaces, Car Windows, Interiors, Glass, Use Wet/Dry- 6

  • Perfect thickness for waterless detailing.
  • Perfect size that can be folded or use opened based on your hand size and preference.
  • Will be the winning balance of plushness and size.



Waterless Auto Detailing

I hope you have not only leaned a few things along the way here today, but come to the realization that car care and maintenance can be much more simple and basic than most realize. Waterless auto detailing and water car washing techniques are a great may to leverage your time and efforts to get you maximum results with minimal efforts!

waterless auto detailing

Darren's Personal Tips

After being in the business for over 25 years, you always end up with some personal favorites. It matters not to me which of the many products you pick for yourself, but I am often asked which products I specifically choose and prefer.

This is often a tough question for a couple reasons:

  • I continually test more and more products.
  • The industry has so many excellent products, I often have many "favorites".
  • Finding the winning balance for you will come down to the subtle nuances of a product. So don't over-think at the beginning and just try one of them. Trust me, you will end up trying more and more as you progress in your experience.
  • But to answer your question; I do prefer the Optimum No-rinse wash and wax.


Watch Darren in Action:




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Waterless Auto Detailing