Dry Car Care
Fact or fantasy

Dry car care is a bit of a mislabel. The more appropriate label would be water-less car care. And to be more specific it would be called waterless washing (notice the subtle spelling differences there)

Due to advances in chemical engineering and manufacturing, we now have these superior products that allow a person to clean their car without using traditional car washing methods that require the use of so much water.

dry car care on white mercedes benz

What I am going to do is take you on a deep-dive into this new segment of cosmetic car care and help you become a fully informed car owner.

So often we as individuals don't even have enough experience to ask the right questions. But that is why I am here 'cause I know the right questions to ask:

  • What is dry car care
  • Is this fact or fantasy
  • Is waterless washing more of a technique or a specific product

These and many other questions will help you make an informed decision moving forward with your own car.

Dry Car Care:
Welcome to the world of waterless

To begin with, we need to start with a basic understanding of waterless washing versus dry car care. Dry car detailing, washing, or care in general is all about using dedicated products that take the place of traditional car washing and detailing techniques.

Since these products still contain water in them, it is fair to say that the most appropriate term for this would be using less water, not the absence of any water.

Hence the term "water-less", rather than "no-water".

I realize this is splitting hairs for most of you, but we are talking about detailing and detailing is all about details!

What is Waterless Car Washing or Detailing

Waterless car washing and detailing products have been around for years now. The concept is all about getting a clean car in a way that uses dedicated waterless wash products that replace the traditional wash bucket and car shampoo methods of cleaning your car.

Since there is virtually no standardization of terms within this industry, waterless is also referred to as dry car care. But this itself is a bad label since liquid products are still used in the cleaning of your car.

Waterless washing and detailing is both a technique and specific products.

How Does Waterless Detailing Work

By engineering liquid products that have been formulated using ingredients that offer great lubricants and gloss enhancers, you can now simply spray your car section by section, and wipe away light layers of dust and dirt.

This avoids the excessive use of water, car wash shampoos, and effort typically associated with traditional car washing methods.

Is Dry Car Care Safe

Yes and no. Like many subjects of the detailing community, every person you ask will likely deliver a different answer. In reality, every question is debatable and up for interpretation.

Using waterless wash products to clean your car are widely accepted by most enthusiasts and detailing professionals. I personally am a huge fan of the technique and many of the products available that use this technique for dry car care.

micro fiber cloth for dry car care

Most people I introduce both the methods and products to, are completely amazed and intrigued by the concept. They are also instantly skeptical of the safety of using this method to clean a car car without scratching the pant.

But this is where advanced chemistry comes in to play and ultimately each person has to come to their own conclusions as to the merits of dry car care.

What is the Difference Between Dry Wash and Regular Car Washing

Traditional car washing requires large amounts of water as a rule. It also requires specific wash mitt, car wash shampoo, drying cloth, garden hose, hose nozzle, and typically shaded area to work in.

Dry car care requires far less tools and products and can be done in virtually any conditions, in any situation. No running water needed and no hose to deliver that running water.

What is Difference Between Waterless Wash Products and Techniques

The dry car care technique can be done with basic tap water only, but waterless (or dry car care) is employing the technique, by using a dedicated waterless wash product.

The technique is simply about side stepping the large amounts of water, pre-rinsing a car, lathering up your car to break down the dirt, then rinsing your car with large amounts of water.

The waterless wash products are formulated with very unique ingredients that encapsulate and suspend the dirt on your car. By spraying these products directly onto your car, you can then wipe away all dirt and grime while simultaneously leaving a clean surface and a layer of protection.

Would I recommend Dry Car Care


Anything that allows me to get my cars cleaned easier and quicker is always a winning ingredient in my world. Waterless washing is an excellent way to maintain a car in showroom like condition all the time.

These products allow a car owner who is dedicated to maintaining the health and beauty of their car the ability to leverage their time to achieving very desirable results in a way that doesn't consume disturbing amounts of time and energy.

I was using the "technique" of dry car care long before the market responded with dedicated waterless wash products and remain as big a fan as ever!

Any car enthusiast I have shown these methods to, has never gone back to traditional car washing methods unless extreme levels of dirt required them to do so.

Chemical Guy's Waterless Wash and Wax

Chemical Guys WAC_707RU EcoSmart-RU Ready to Use Waterless Car Wash and Wax (1 Gal)

  • Top rated waterless wash and wax
  • Don't just "wash" your car, but wash and wax your car
  • One of my favorite dry car care products

Aero Waterless Wash N Wax

Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit 144 Ounces. Aircraft Quality for Your Car, RV, Boat, Motorcycle. The Best Wash Wax. Anywhere, Anytime, Home, Office, School, Garage, Parking Lots.

  • Top rated waterless car wash
  • Excellent user experience
  • Excellent results
  • Simply your world with waterless washing

Dry Car Care:
Darren's Professional Tips

If you have followed along to this point, there is a good chance you are beginning to see the value of waterless washing or dry car care. Just as you are likely picking up what I am trying to put down: I am a big fan!

With all that being said, I have additional methods and tricks that I can offer that you might embrace and find better, or perhaps safer.

Chenille Wash Mitt

The Rag Company (2-Pack Premium Soft Microfiber Chenille Knobby Scratch-Free, LINT-Free Wash Mitts, One Royal Blue and One Lime Green

  • The safest wash mitt you can use
  • I love having two separate colors: each color dedicated to separate job
  • Ideal for taking your dry car care efforts to a new level of safety

Darren's Tips: Most waterless wash products are designed to be used my spraying directly on surface of car, then wiping up with a plush micro-fiber cloth. This is the very problem most people have with dry car care techniques and one of the reasons I not only recommend the use of one of these chenille wash mitts, but actually use this technique myself.

Instead of wiping the car with a micro-fiber cloth first, I use one of these chenille wash mitts as my initial wipe to remove the majority of the dirt, then follow up as normal with a micro-fiber cloth.

The chenille wash mitt is safer than using even the plushest of micro-fiber cloths for the initial wipe where dirt is the heaviest.

  • Spray your choice of waterless wash product onto section of your car
  • Wipe with a damp chenille wash mitt ( I pre-dampen my wash mitt in distilled water)
  • Follow up directly with a plush micro-fiber cloth (or you can go an extra step further and spray this area with a new shot of waterless wash product, then wipe up with a micro-fiber cloth. This is all based on how "safe" you are dedicated to being)

This might seem like a lot of effort to go through just to have a clean car. But I can promise you that just following the basic technique of dry car care or waterless washing, you will not only save time, achieve better results (absolutely zero drips marks caused by traditional wash methods), but I have yet to see anyone go back to traditional wash bucket and soap car washing unless the situation requires.

Since I am already using one of these chenille wash mitts, I prefer having two on hand that are different colors to keep dirtier jobs of washing my car (like washing wheels and door jambs) dedicated to one color, and reserving the other color to less dirty car washing efforts (like the top half of my car that is typically dirty with dust, not hard-core dirt and road grime.

Micro-Fiber Waterless Wash Cloths

SOFTBATFY Ultrasoft, Large, Thick and Quick Drying Car Microfiber Cleaning Cloth Towel 800GSM Polishing Waxing Auto Detailing Cloth 6 Pack 16 x 16inches(6pack,16 x 16inches)

  • Extra soft, extra absorbent, and zero lint!
  • Different colored sides to visual separate sides into dedicated tasks

Darren's Tips: If you are going to embrace the dry car care products and technique, you need to use micro-fiber cloths. And just like everything else in life; not all micro-fiber cloths are created equal.

I love these cloths as thy are extra thick and have a ribbon edge that helps maintain there folded shape during use (as compared to edgeless micro-fiber cloths)

I also love having each side a separate color so I can manage the dirt better during this waterless washing technique. I dedicate one side to the initial wiping and the other side to finish wiping/polishing. It just adds one additional layer of safety and performance.

Dry Car Care Summary

If you are at this point of the page you deserve a gold star! ( I never did get any gold stars as a kid when I was growing up) Very few people have the discipline to dig in and put in the necessary work to learn the nuances of greater learning and understanding.

Clearly you are among the few. But as an informed car owner you are in a much better position to make informed decisions rather than be lead blindly by the hyped-up marketing of today's world.

I wish you much success in your detailing efforts!


Darren Priest

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