The Auto Detailing Student’s Guide to Waterless Car Washing


The traditional way of using a hose and soap bucket is what comes to mind when most people think of washing their cars. In recent years, waterless car washing has been catching on as a way to remove dirt and road grime from vehicles without having to waste running water.

The waterless car washing trend first caught on in the western U.S., where large parts of the country experience droughts on a regular basis. The trend quickly spread across the nation and into Canada, where more businesses are consciously making efforts to preserve water.

A waterless car wash is a pre-mixed detailing product that is used to heavily saturate car panels. Once a car has been coated with the product, dirt can be carefully wiped away for a dry shine. Waterless washes should only be used on vehicles with light-to-moderate dirt accumulation.

If you’re planning to pursue an auto detailing career, read on to learn more about waterless car washing.

Auto Detailing Pros Know There Are Various Types of Waterless Car Washes

If you work for a shop that uses waterless car wash products during your auto detailing career, or if you choose to use them in your own business one day, you will learn that there are several types available.

Some waterless car washes are for cleaning only, and others clean but also contain a gloss and protective coating. It might be a good idea to have access to both, since they will come in handy in different situations.

Cars that haven’t been detailed in a while might have water marks, minor paint scratches and oxidization. A good choice for cars like this is a waterless wash product that only cleans, since you’ll probably need to buff the vehicle once it’s clean for a shinier finish. If a car has been recently detailed and the paint is in good condition, you’ll be able to use a waterless wash that adds protection to keep it looking pristine.

Some Auto Detailing Supplies Are Required for Waterless Car Washing

Auto detailing professionals know that washing cars without water is very convenient. In fact, you do not need to be within reach of a wall-mounted hose and there’s no need to undergo tons of prep work. However, you’ll definitely want to use a good amount of the product in order to ensure the car is well-lubricated. In addition, you will need to have plenty of clean microfiber towels on hand.

The reason you’ll need several towels is to avoid cross-contamination. You don’t want to smear dirt that was just removed from a panel onto the next one. Since there’s no water, towels that pick up debris also have more of a chance of scratching the paint, so you it is important to switch towels before moving on to the next section.

Proper Auto Detailing Technique Ensures a Great Waterless Wash

If you choose to use a waterless car wash product, doing an efficient job is all about technique. Remember that the dirtiest panels are the ones closest to the road, so always start at the roof to avoid spreading grime around the entire car—and of course, the wheels should always be cleaned at the very end.

You’ll want to fold your microfiber towel and always wipe gently in one direction. Using circular motions is counter-productive because you’ll be spreading dirt over areas you just cleaned. Once you’re finished with a panel, refold your microfiber towel to reveal a clean side for a new section. Once the car has been wiped completely dry, your work is done!

Interested in learning new car cleaning techniques? The right auto detailing training program will ensure that you stay in the know with the latest practices—from washing to repairing to polishing!

Visit ATC for program details, or to speak with an advisor.

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