hs ceramic 3-in-1 detailer

How Does a Waterless Wash and Wax Work?

In this article you will learn:

  • The science behind a waterless wash and wax

  • When to choose a waterless wash vs. a car shampoo

  • How to use a waterless wash for cars step-by-step

One of the most important things you can do to keep your car looking good is to wash it regularly. But between work, errands and last-minute appointments, we don’t always have the time or energy to give our car a good wash, even when it’s long overdue.  

That’s where a waterless car wash comes in handy—but what is a waterless wash, and how does it work?  

A squeaky-clean car, minus the H2O

You probably guessed exactly what a waterless wash is from the name alone: it’s a cleaner that doesn’t require water to remove dirt and grime from your car. A waterless wash saves you the time and effort involved in the complete, bucket-and-hose routine. Plus, it’s a much more sustainable cleaning method. 

Most waterless washes come in a convenient spray bottle. All you need is a microfiber cloth, and, in a few sprays and wipes, your car wash will be done. 

It may seem hard to believe that, without any water, a simple cleaning spray could ever take the place of a regular car wash, but this specially formulated cleaner makes up for the lack of water with three, powerful ingredients: 

  1. Cleaning detergents: Rather than using soap as a base, like typical car shampoos, waterless car washes are formulated with powerful detergents that break down dirt and stains stuck on your car exterior, making them easier to wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. 
  2. Lubricating agents: Waterless wash sprays are also infused with lubricating polymers that draw dirt and other contaminants away from the clear coat. These additives help your microfiber cloth glide smoothly over the surface of your car when you wipe, which helps to prevent scratches or swirls in the paint. 
  3. Shine and protectant: Most waterless washes come with a built-in wax, so you can clean and protect your car all at once! Once you’ve removed dirt and stains from your finish, shine enhancers and protectants in the formula will take your vehicle’s post-treatment look to the next level. These slick polymers work to strengthen and renew your vehicle’s wax coating, while giving your paintwork that extra pop of gloss.  
hs ceramic 3-in-1 detailer

With all three of these elements packed into one spray bottle, a waterless car wash makes it a breeze to clean, protect and shine your vehicle in 10 minutes or less!  

When to go waterless

Despite their convenience and ease-of-use, you can’t clean every mess with a waterless wash. A waterless wash is a fantastic short-cut, but it only works if your vehicle is already mostly clean. 

To put this into perspective, if your vehicle is only a little stained or dusted from mineral deposits, tree pollen and dirt from the road, a waterless wash will work just fine.  

However, if you’ve just come back from an off-road trip, or you drove through the mud on a rainy day, or there’s lots of tree sap and bird droppings on the roof of your car, you’ll need to break out the bucket and hose and wash your car the old-fashioned way. A waterless wash won’t be enough to remove these more difficult soils, and trying to use one to scour away a particularly tough stain could damage your vehicle’s paintwork. 

How to use a waterless wash and wax

To give your car a waterless wash, all you need is a quality waterless cleaning spray, like Hybrid Solutions Ceramic 3-in-1 detailer, and several microfiber towels. Because you won’t use water to rinse your cloth as you clean, it's important to have more than one on hand to prevent scratches or streaks in the finish. For the best results, we recommend having 3-4 edgeless detailing towels at your disposal during your waterless wash. 

Step 1. Spray one panel or 60 x 60 cm section of your car with a generous amount of your preferred waterless cleaning solution. Make sure the area is fully saturated so that there’s enough cleaner to break down dirt and stains. 

Step 2. Use a folded microfiber towel to wipe dirt and stains from the finish. If one side of the cloth gets dirt, switch to a clean side to avoid rubbing any abrasive contaminants into the clear coat. 

car wash

Step 3. Buff your finish to a nice, glossy shine with a separate microfiber cloth using light, circular motions. Be sure to keep your buffing towel separate from the rest throughout the car washing process for the smoothest possible finish. 

Step 4. Repeat steps 1-3 on the rest of your vehicle’s paint surfaces and glass, one panel at a time, until the entire car is squeaky-clean!  

drying the car


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