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Car cleaning trends: the waterless car wash!

Can you wash your car without using any water?

No, it’s not a trick question, it is perfectly possible to clean your car without turning on a single tap or using a drop of water?

Waterless car wash products were thought up as a way to enable car owners to clean their vehicles and produce a beautiful shine without using gallons of water, hours of elbow grease and masses of different car shampoo's and car polish products.

There has been rapid development in car detailing products over the past few years with the waterless option becoming more and more popular with a host of new specialist car valeting products on the market. Waterless cleaning products give stunning results and are quick and easy to use, thanks to their special mix of components that lift dirt and debris away from the car’s surface, and leave behind a protective layer of wax.

What are the advantages of a waterless car cleaner?

In this article we have outlined our top three reasons why switching off the water will help you discover a completely new and easy way to complete your automotive clean.

1. It’s good for the environment

It’s a big topic but being good for the environment is our top reason why switching to a waterless wash and wax product is worth it. It saves water - a lot of water.

Let’s break down the figures and compare washing your car at home versus taking it to the car wash. What is the environmental impact? Let's say an average car wash can use around 10 gallons of water per minute, that’s either filling up a bucket or using a hosepipe. Assuming ten minutes of car washing time is taken up just drawing water or pushing it through the hosepipe, that can result in a staggering 100 gallons being used for that one wash.

That’s the equivalent of 35-50 baths or 25 showers.

Now that’s a really compelling reason to change your car cleaning habits.

How much water do you use when you wash your car? Let’s admit it, we are all guilty of leaving the hosepipe running while you clean off the excess dirt from the paintwork? This unused water runs away, soaking into the ground along with all the dirty water from washing your car, sinking into the earth and pulling all that dirt and grime in with it. That can’t be good for the delicate ecosystem underneath our feet and for all the little creatures that call it ‘home’.

We are aware year on year that we need to save water, especially during the summer months with reports of hosepipe bans and reservoirs running low. Saving water should be a key priority for us all, so why not start with a waterless car wash product that you can use on all kinds of vehicles – cars, caravans, commercial vans and lorries, motorbikes and boats. It is a flexible cleaning solution plus it's a sound ecological choice for vehicle owners looking to save water and ‘do their bit’ for the environment. They’re also excellent if you don’t have an outside tap or easy access to an indoor water supply.

2. It’s good for your car

Almost any vehicle can be cleaned with a waterless car wash and wax product, of course there are a few exceptions where some added care should be taken. For example, is your car extremely dirty? If your car is caked in mud from a day’s rallying or off-roading then it may need a ‘pre-wash’ with a car shampoo first or a light spray with a traffic film remover. Once you are happy you’ve dislodged and rinsed off the excess dirt then you can start using your waterless cleaner with full confidence.

Keeping your vehicle spick and span with a gleaming shine is beneficial to retain your cars resale value and a regular clean will prevent the build-up of dirt, dust, fuel spillages and any marks that could prove corrosive, discolouring or damaging in some way. When you choose good quality cleaning products your car you will soon reap the rewards in terms of the end results.

Cleaning off the dust and dirt can reveal small patches of discolouration from bird dropping or show minor scratches, a ding or a dent which you can look to get repaired early on to protect your car from any further damage. It can also uncover patches of rust that need treating to stop them from spreading further and causing more serious problems later on.

If you are keen on trying out a waterless car cleaner, it is wise to pick one that also contains wax. Wax will add an extra layer of valuable protection to the bodywork and shiny surfaces and acts against direct exposure to sunlight and the risk of sunspots and colour fading. Wax also provides an effective coating and repels water during the  showery weather to stop water spots from spoiling the finish. This protective waxy layer will build up the more you use it and also help repel debris like tar, tree sap and bird droppings too. Finally, it will really bring out the colour of the paintwork, making your car gleam on a bright day and look as beautiful as it did the day you drove it out the showroom.

Some waterless cleaning products offer UV protection which work to your car’s advantage as they help guard against damage caused by UV rays from the sun.

The suns rays can damage paintwork by causing oxidation and fading, they can reduce the integrity of the paint and lead to flaws in its appearance. Just as we seek protection for our skin from strong sunlight, our cars also benefit from added fortification against UV-related damage and deterioration.

3. It’s good for you!

Believe it or not, the gentle routine of a waterless car wash can be really therapeutic for us. Let’s think about this for a moment. Waterless products make the whole process much quicker and easier; it takes away all that stress. You don’t have to invest in an expensive pressure washer or gather loads of different products together. It’s cleaner as you don’t have to change into old clothes or try to avoid slopping dirty or soapy water all over yourself. Simply get hold of your preferred waterless car washing product and a handful of soft, clean towels or microfibre cloths and you are ready to begin!

On the road a lot? It’s really easy to use when you are out and about, for example, a bottle of waterless wash and wax would be extremely useful on a day trip where you need to quickly spruce up your car in situ and maintain it with limited cleaning resources around you. These cleaners are tough enough to get rid of stubborn dirt, yet gentle enough to be used safely on vintage and luxury cars. In other words, they are a valuable addition to pretty much any car enthusiast’s toolbox.

Are you intrigued?

Using a waterless car wash and wax product really couldn’t be simpler and it’s so easy to use, let's run through the basics. Start by clearing any larger bits of dirt from the car along with any trapped leaves, sticks and rubbish from under the windscreen wipers and the edges of the car. Apply the product according to the instructions on the label, and make sure you are using good quality, clean microfibre cloths.

You don’t need to use much as a little goes a long way. Work your way around your car starting with the roof and in small sections, leaving the dirtiest areas closest to the road til last.

When applying, aim for a fine mist that evenly covers a small section of the bodywork, take the cloth and move the product around that section of the surface. Now, take another clean microfibre cloth and start buffing the section you have been working on to a shine.

Make sure you buff off one section before moving on to spray the next so you can see the progress you are making. When working close to grills, vents, window seals and door handles, you might find a quick spray directly onto the microfibre cloth works better and saves having a build up of product in fiddly or hard to reach places. This method is also best if the weather conditions are windy, as it will prevent the wind from blowing a mist of product all over the areas you have already cleaned or polished and saves getting it all over your clothes.

Do they clean the tyres too? If they are really mucky you may need to use a specialist tyre and wheel cleaner to achieve top results. 

Don’t forget to change your cloth regularly as you polish, otherwise you’ll be transferring dirt back onto your cars bodywork. Once you are finished, wash your used cloths either in the washing machine or in a bucket of hot water. Avoid adding fabric conditioner as this will leave a visible residue on your car next time you use them. 

‘Here comes the science bit…’

So, that sounds easy to use but how does a waterless car-wash product? How can a cleaning system that does away with the need for water produce such great results for such little effort?

The answer lies in the special formulation of the liquid. It’s a polymer compound made up of a combination of soaps, surfactants (compounds that lower the tension between two liquids, a liquid and a gas or a liquid and a solid, thus acting like a detergent) and lubrication agents, all designed to work together to break down dirt on the surface of your car.

The polymers wrap around the dirt particles and bond with them, dissolving and encapsulating them. This allows the dirt to be lifted away from the surface and transferred to a microfibre cloth where they get trapped in the little fabric wedges that make up the cloth. Microfibre cloths have extremely fine threads that make them highly absorbent and extremely soft. This helps the polymer-bonded dirt particles stick to the cloth and come cleanly away from the car. The soft microfibres also protect paintwork against scratches that could be caused by a rougher material rubbing repeatedly against the surface of the car.

If wax has been added to the polymer mix, this will stick to the car’s surface and help repel rain, mist and dust. A thin film of wax remains even after buffing, which is why the surface can be polished to a gorgeous shine. The waxy layer helps protect against rain and water marks too. Since some wax remains every time a waterless car wash product is used, the protection increases over time, making the wax contained within the product increasingly more effective and efficient. 

Introducing our bestselling waterless wash and wax - Showroom Shine!

There are many products on the market that fall under the waterless wash and wax category, Showroom Shine from Greased Lightning is a premium waterless car wash and wax which combines highly effective cleaning and waxing components to ensure you get the perfect shine, every time. Showroom Shine takes just 30 minutes to use from start to finish and just a one litre bottle will clean on average ten family-sized cars.

Showroom Shine is easy to use in all weather conditions, plus you get added flexibility as you can clean your car in the garage, driveway or workshop. You don't need access to an outside tap, so if you live in a flat or have limited parking you are not restricted.

Some wax products can harden with exposure to direct sunlight, this won’t happen with Showroom Shine though we recommend storing it somewhere cool and giving it a good shake up before use.

It's safe to use in light rain and can be applied to a wide range of hard and shiny surfaces, including paintwork, metal, glass and plastic. Showroom Shine is not recommended for use on surfaces inside the car or on your upholstery, however it can be used alongside specialist interior cleaning products to create a sparkling overall effect to your whole vehicle. 

The versatile cleaning properties of Showroom Shine mean that there is no need to buy multiple products to completely clean your car and the results are impressive, with no residual streaks or smears left behind.

For a full valeting experience use with other products from our premium car care range; Crystal Clear for cleaning your windscreens and mirrors, Dash Devil for your dashboard and inside trims, One Minute Wheels wheel and alloy cleaner and Brilliant Black tyre restorer.

Want to know more?

Showroom Shine is sold in various sizes, from an individual one-litre spray bottle to twin-packs, refills and within some of our valeting packs. View the range here.

Whichever size you choose why not give it a go this weekend - it will revolutionise your car care routine. 

Have you checked out the full Greased Lightning range yet? Find out more here. Easy to use car cleaning products with high performance results.

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