How Do Waterless Car Washes Work?


In this article you will learn:

  • The science behind a waterless wash and wax

  • How to clean your car with a waterless car wash

  • When to use a waterless wash vs. a car wash soap

Cleaning your car regularly is important for maintaining a sparkling finish, but you may not always have a spare afternoon to wash and wax your vehicle. That’s where a waterless car wash comes in—but what exactly is waterless wash, and how does it remove dirt and stains from your finish?

In this guide, we explore the science behind a waterless car wash to answer all these questions and more!

What is a waterless car wash?

A waterless car wash is exactly what it sounds like: a cleaner that doesn’t require the use of water to remove dirt and grime from the surface of your car. Not only is a waterless car wash eco-friendly, but it also saves time and effort in your cleaning routine by condensing the car washing process into one, simple step. These cleaning solutions usually come in a convenient spray bottle to make them easier to apply all over the surface of your car.

Without water to create foam or rinse away dirt and stains, it may be difficult to believe that a simple cleaning spray could do the job of a regular car wash soap. However, a waterless car wash features a special formula with three key ingredients that allows it to still be effective in the absence of water:

Cleaning detergents: Unlike traditional car shampoos, waterless car washes contain powerful cleaning detergents, instead of soaps, to lift dirt and stains from the surface of your car. These chemicals break down dirt and other contaminants to make them easier to remove with a microfiber towel.

Lubricating agents: Waterless car washes also contain lubricating polymers that act as a substitute for water, encapsulating loose dirt and soils and drawing them into your microfiber cloth to prevent scratches and swirls to your glossy clear coat. The action of these lubricating additives is why a waterless car wash glides so smoothly over the surface of your car, protecting your paintwork from scratches and swirls.

Shine & protectant: After you’ve finished wiping away dirt and stains, shine enhancers and protectants work to elevate your car's post-treatment look. These polymers strengthen your vehicle’s wax coating and give your car an extra pop of gloss.

When combined into one powerful formula, these ingredients make it easy to wash and wax your car in ten minutes or less!

hybrid solutions ceramic 3-in-1 detailer

When to go waterless

Despite the convenience of waterless car washes, they aren't a foolproof solution to clean up every mess. There are times when you’ll need to break out your bucket and car wash soap to safely remove soils and grime from your finish.

It’s important to always inspect the surface of your car before you clean to determine which type of car wash solution you’ll need to wash your vehicle. To do this, run a hand gently over the dirtiest area of your finish. If there’s only light dust, fingerprints and minor water spots on your car, then it’s safe to use a waterless car wash.

On the other hand, if there’s mud, bugs or other more visible stains stuck to the surface of your vehicle, you’ll need to use a traditional car wash soap foam to remove these stubborn contaminants. A waterless car wash won’t be enough to remove these more difficult soils, and trying to use one at this point could damage your vehicle's paintwork.

when to go waterless

How to use a waterless car wash

To wash your car with a waterless car wash, all you’ll need is a waterless cleaner like Hybrid Solutions Ceramic 3-in-1 Detailer and several microfiber towels. Since you won’t be rinsing your microfiber cloth as you clean, you’ll need to have more than one available to prevent from scratching or streaking your finish. We recommend having three or four edgeless detailing towels on hand in order to achieve the best results.

Step 1. Start by spraying one 2’ x 2’ section of your car thoroughly with your waterless car wash solution. Make sure each exterior panel is fully saturated so that your cleaner safely lifts dirt and light stains from your finish.

Step 2. Wipe away any dirt and stains on your finish with a folded microfiber towel. When one side of your cloth gets dirty, switch to a clean side to avoid rubbing sharp soils into clear coat.

Step 3. Buff your finish to a nice shine with a fresh, microfiber towel using light, circular motions. During the wash process, be sure to keep your buffing microfiber separate to shine the rest of your exterior panels for the smoothest possible finish.

Step 4. Repeat these steps on the rest of your exterior panels and glass until you’ve cleaned your entire vehicle.

edgeless detailing towel


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