Best Waterless Car Wash for Car Detailing (2019)

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What is the best waterless car wash for the money?After waiting days for Sunday morning to come around so you can wash your beloved car, you wake to find dark clouds and rain. After a few choice words to the clouds above you, you accept the hose and bucket will not be coming out to play today.

But what if there is another option? If you read our Waterless Car Wash guide, you would know there is a waterless wash technique you can do under cover, in a garage, without the mess of water everywhere. If you have not read the article, follow the link over and read up on the technique and consult this guide for a list of products you might want to consider, such as Optimum No Rinse which is my all-time favorite.

Top Waterless Car Washes

What is Waterless Washing?

Waterless washing is a simple technique involving spraying on, or applying with a cloth, a special solution that allows you to clean the car with the swipe of a cloth. Then you use a clean cloth to dry the car. No sponge or rinsing required. You can do this in a garage or in places where water use is restricted. So, this is a pretty useful technique.

Now we need to address a common misconception. Waterless washing is not always waterless. I know, there is a bad joke in there someplace. But read on to learn why this is the case.

There are two instances where you may need water:

  • Mixing product, and/or,
  • Rinsing off your car.

You may need some water to mix the waterless wash if you buy a concentrate. With some products, you put a premeasured amount of waterless wash in a bucket or bottle and mix with water.

Then there is an important issue that must not be ignored. Waterless washing is a good option if your car is not too dirty. Think of this technique as a more aggressive cleaning method than using a quick detailing product, and less effective than a deep cleaning with a hose, sponge, and bucket.

To put it bluntly:

Do not expect waterless washing to clean a heavily soiled car or truck.

If your car is heavily soiled, you will need to rinse off all that potentially scratching dirt and debris first. That means using some water.

One trick is to first run your car through the local automated car wash. Purchase the cheapest option and let the automated brushes and nozzles clean off all the heavy stuff. Or you need to first find a spot to unleash the hose and nozzle, rinsing off that caked on mud, or other heavy soil.

Waterless Wash Products General Consideration

There are some features that all waterless washes must have to be considered for our list. These are:

Advantages

  • Provide an easy, fast wash anywhere, anytime.
  • Use far less water than the old-fashioned hose, sponge and bucket wash.
  • Will work on all common surfaces found on an automobile exterior, including wheels and tires.

Disadvantages

  • The car cannot be heavily soiled.
  • A waterless wash must never dry while being used or it can streak and spot.

A Word of Caution

Let’s repeat address an issue that is also covered in our guide on the waterless washing technique – homemade concoctions. Some think they can take a few things you have laying around and throw them together to make your own cleaner. Some might say that is clever or frugal. But to be clear, it is not.

The process of waterless washing is demanding. Think about it. The cleaner must lift and eliminate dirt without damaging or scratching things like paint and coated plastic, all without the aid of a rinse. There must be no streaks, spots, or other aesthetic defects after you are done. Plus, the surface must not have a sticky residue that dirt can stick to. Don’t forget it would be nice to add some protection.

There are more stipulations for a good product, but you get the point. This is a pretty dedicated, and complicated, cleaner. It is best to let the professional chemists earn their money on this one. Part with a few dollars and get a waterless wash from a brand with a good reputation.

While shopping for a waterless wash, there are two general categories of products you can choose from:

  • Cleaning, and
  • Cleaning with wax.

For paint in good shape, with no small scratches or swirl marks, you can employ a cleaner with wax or protective additives. It will give your car some additional shine and added protection, with no additional work.

But if your paint has defects that will be further detailed after cleaning, you need a product focused on washing. The added wax is unnecessary since you will be polishing, and other things, in separate steps. Focus on getting the surfaces as clean as possible with the waterless wash.

There is a second factor to consider when deciding on what product to use. You will have to decide whether you want:

  • Economical, Long Lasting Concentrates that do require mixing, or
  • Convenient Ready-to-use spray products.

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine

Sale
Optimum (NR2010Q) No Rinse Wash & Shine...
1,173 Reviews
Optimum (NR2010Q) No Rinse Wash & Shine...
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine contains exclusive blend of...
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine allows car washing virtually...
  • Get a brilliant shine using only one or two gallons of water
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine is preferred by professional...
  • Safe for any vehicle surface on cars, trucks, motorcycles,...

Pros:

  • Uses polymers that lubricate and let your cloth glide over the surface.
  • The contained polymers bond to surface to protect and add some shine.
  • Can be used on automotive exterior surfaces like paint, fiberglass, wood and plastic.
  • Can be used on motorcycles, boats, cars, trucks, RV’s, ORV’s, etc.
  • 4 container sizes available (4 oz., 8 oz., 32 oz. and 1 gallon).
  • Good reviews (4.7 out of 5 stars after 924 reviews on Amazon).

Cons:

  • Must mix to use.
  • Does require a bucket of water.
  • Did not work well on pollen.
  • Cap failed in shipping and product leaked.

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine contains no wax (if you want this with wax, see the next product on this list) but does contain polymers that add some shine.

No Rinse Wash and Shine is a concentrate and is blended at a rate of one ounce per two gallons of water. So, you do need a bucket and two gallons of water. But after that, you simply dip your cloth into the solution, wring out the excess, and wipe an area. Then using a clean, dry cloth, wipe the area to remove the remaining cleaning solution and buff to a shine. No rinsing and simple.

This product does clean well and many users were professional detailers who buy this product a gallon at a time. In support the effective cleaning, this waterless wash has strong reviews on Amazon. Plus, if you are a DIY’er who does not need a whole gallon, then you can purchase smaller containers. (It also comes in 4, 8, and 32 oz. bottles.)

While most users were pleased with the cleaning power of this product, it did appear that tree pollen was difficult to remove. Expect to use a little more elbow grease during the always pesky pollen season.

As a bonus, this product can be used to detail just about anything with wheels, and then some. Multitasking products are always welcome on the storage shelves.

Another plus was the odor. Most found it pleasing (and a couple of users even claimed it made their hands soft!). So, constantly sticking your hands in a bucket of solution is not a problem. But use some caution, it is an eye irritant.

Because this product is a concentrate, one bottle makes a lot of cleaning solution. That means for those who like a bargain, buying a waterless wash in the concentrated form is your best value. You avoid shipping and storing larger quantities of liquid, but remember you do need to mix it and you will use two gallons of water per wash.

One drawback when shipping any liquid, it can leak in transit. So, if you buy online, use a reputable retailer who packages their items well.

 

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Wax

Sale
Optimum (NRWW2012Q) No Rinse Wash & Wax...
555 Reviews
Optimum (NRWW2012Q) No Rinse Wash & Wax...
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Shine contains exclusive blend of...
  • Optimum No Rinse Wash and Wax combines all the benefits of...
  • Get a clean, brilliant shine virtually anywhere, anytime,...
  • Safe for any vehicle surface on cars, trucks, motorcycles,...

Pros:

  • Uses polymers that lubricate and let your cloth glide over the surface.
  • The contained polymers and additional carnauba wax protect and add increased shine.
  • Can be used on automotive exterior surfaces like paint, fiberglass, wood and plastic.
  • Can be used on motorcycles, boats, cars, trucks, RV’s, ORV’s, etc.
  • 3 container sizes available (8 oz., 32 oz. and 1 gallon).
  • Good reviews (4.7 out of 5 stars after 438 reviews on Amazon).

Cons:

  • Must mix to use.
  • Does require a bucket of water.
  • Odor was more off to some users.
  • More expensive than version without wax.
  • Cap failed in shipping.

Optimum No Rinse Wash and Wax is a sister product to the first product on our list, but this version contains carnauba wax.

Most of what was said for the No Rinse and Shine version applies to this No Rinse Wash and Wax version. Good value, check! Effective cleaning, check! Versatility, check! Smells good, yep!

Do you still need to mix? Yes, still at one ounce per two gallons water. But again, shipping a concentrate is less expensive and there is a smaller bottle of liquid to store on the shelf.

Now as for the wax, results were mixed. This version is more expensive than its sister product without the wax and many users felt the difference in shine was not worth paying more for the No Rinse Wash and Wax. If you like carnauba wax, then you may feel better using a product like this one that includes it.

Another difference may be the odor. This product did get a few comments about a strange odor creeping up after using it for a while. Most like the odor of No Rinse and Wax, but it seems to have a slightly different odor than its sister product.

As always, shipping is always a concern with liquids, and the majority of negative comments for this product have to do with the bottle leaking. If you buy online, use a good vendor, one that packs its merchandise properly.

 

TriNova Waterless Wash and Wax

TriNova Waterless Car Wash and Wax Kit -...
479 Reviews
TriNova Waterless Car Wash and Wax Kit -...
  • 40 WASHES - Just 1/2 ounce of concentrate makes a full...
  • SCRATCH-FREE - Specially designed to encapsulate dirt,...
  • PROTECTION - Provides a protective coat that repels water...
  • CONVENIENT - No hoses, no buckets, no mess. Just spray on,...
  • related terms: smart year oz n magic green treatment...

 Pros:

  • Concentrate that comes with spray bottle if you buy the kit.
  • Comes in self measuring bottle which makes measuring the ½ oz. needed per batch simple.
  • 16 oz. of concentrate make 32 spray bottles of waterless wash (good for about 40 washes).
  • Contains lubricants and Nano-technology polymers.
  • Leaves a coating that protects the cleaned surface against water and UV.
  • Is a “non-toxic” formula.
  • Can use on trucks, SUVs, Boats, RVs and other vehicles.
  • Cost effective compared to the ready-to-spray products.

Cons:

  • No Amazon reviews yet.
  • Is an eye irritant.
  • Left a film or haze on some dark cars.
  • Contains silicone (not body shop safe in many user’s opinion).
  • Does not work well on tree sap.

TriNova Waterless Car Wash is the final concentrate on our list. As is the case for all concentrates, that means no shipping of heavy water and a smaller container to store on the garage shelf.

So, you do need to mix Waterless Car Wash before use. However, TriNova must have realized mixing can be a pain. It comes in a special bottle with a measuring mechanism built-in, simplifying the measuring process.

If you buy the available kit, you get the spray bottle, too. This is handy since you squeeze the bottle of concentrate to fill the built-in measuring cup to the line, dump it into the spray bottle, then fill the spray bottle up with water. No separate measuring cups or guessing. Next, shake well and start spraying on your car. Simple and easy.

For those concerned about health and the environment, TriNova notes this product in non-toxic. It can irritate eyes, so keep that in mind when spraying.

There were no reviews on Amazon, which is a bit odd. But there are reviews on other sites and they are good. The product cleans well as intended, and cars shined and looked great after being washed.

Some interesting comments found involved tree sap. This product seemed to struggle with removing it. If you often get tree sap on your car, boat, motorcycle, or whatever you are cleaning, you may need to clean those surfaces a couple of times to get it off.

Also, on dark cars there a few who found it was hard to keep the TriNova Waterless Car Wash from streaking. When using any waterless wash, you cannot let it dry and must wipe the surface to remove all remaining cleaner before it dries. This helps to prevent spots and streaking. But on black cars, there were more than one or two users who found this product was hard to keep from streaking.

One last note, for those who like body shop safe products, this waterless wash does contain silicone. Obviously, there are some who feel anything with silicone is not body shop safe.

 

Aero Cosmetics Waterless Wash Wax All

Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit 144...
2,750 Reviews
Wet or Waterless Car Wash Wax Kit 144...
  • SIMPLY THE BEST WATERLESS CAR WASH. Gently Cleans and...
  • Highly performance Aircraft Quality Wax for your Car, Boat,...
  • Water Based - Alcohol & Ammonia Free. Our plant based Eco...
  • Kit includes 1 full gallon of Wash Wax ALL, 1 full 16 oz...
  • Note: Understand that this is a Wash and Wax Product. Wax...

Pros:

  • Water Based – alcohol & ammonia free.
  • Leaves an anti-static, non-stick coating that repels dirt and dust.
  • Can be used as either a waterless wash or a wax as you dry product.
  • No eye or skin irritation.
  • Money back guarantee.
  • Can use on cars, boats, RV’s, airplanes, etc.
  • Safe for use on paint, gel coat, glass, chrome, aluminum, plastic, rubber, leather, vinyl, and more.
  • Provides a degree of UV protection.
  • A concentrated version is available.
  • Meets Boeing Aircraft (D6-17487P, D6-7127M), AirBus Industries (09-00-002), and McDonnell Douglass CDS #1 cleaning specifications.
  • Good reviews (4.8 out of 5 stars after 1,673 reviews on Amazon).

Cons:

  • Will streak if allowed to dry on surfaces. Must wipe/buff before it can dry.
  • Not a polish that will revive dull, tired paint.
  • Containers were damaged during shipment.
  • “Wax” does not leave the slick surface and did not last as long compared to paste wax.
  • Need degreaser for oil, grease and exhaust soot.

Aero Cosmetics Waterless Wash Wax All is a ready-to-use product that comes as a kit with a spray bottle and microfiber cloths, or you can just buy the gallon jug separately. The company has been supplying cleaning products to the aviation business for over thirty-years, and has managed to establish a good reputation with their waterless wash for automobiles.

The Waterless Wash Wax All forms a protective coating that offers some degree of UV protection and shine. Many users felt the shine was not equal to a paste wax and did not last as long. However, it did not become sticky and most users were happy with the final appearance.

This manufacturer displays a rare degree of honesty that was helpful. For instance, they clearly warn against letting the product dry or you will get streaking. I think this is true of all waterless wash products, but not many are as clear with their instructions.

Another honest, and useful, statement from Aero was to employ a degreaser on oil, grease, or exhaust soot. Remember the earlier warning about using any waterless wash on a car that is heavily soiled? It was important. While some feel the need for a separate degreaser is a negative, for Aero to call attention to some common issues a user may encounter like exhaust soot is helpful.

For those who place the eco aspect high on their list of requirements for a product, the Wash Wax All is biodegradable and easy on skin and eyes. And it is water based so storage is straightforward, just remember that all water-based products need to be kept warm in the winter.

Overall, this is a well-reviewed product that has been on the market for a while. It is a ready-to-use formula, so it is more expensive per bottle compared to the concentrates, but there is no mixing needed. If you are willing to mix product, however, they do also sell a concentrate that will save some money.

 

Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax

Sale
MEGUIAR'S G3626 Ultimate Waterless Wash...
834 Reviews
MEGUIAR'S G3626 Ultimate Waterless Wash...
  • ONE EASY STEP: Premium formula conveniently and gently...
  • WATER SPOT-FREE: Advanced chemistry contains a water...
  • LONG-LASTING BARRIER: Advanced polymer chemistry leaves...
  • SAFE FOR GLOSSY PAINTS: Is safe and effective on all glossy...
  • NO EQUIPMENT NEEDED: Ideal for those who do not have access...

 Pros:

  • Contains a lubricant to help prevent scratching while cleaning (they call it a “no-scratch formula”).
  • Integral wax forms a glossy, hydrophobic, and protective coating.
  • Water-spot free formula.
  • Can use on all glossy paints and clear coat finishes, glass, chrome, polished metals, and plastic trim.
  • Safe for use on wheels, rubber, vinyl and glass.
  • Good reviews (4.6 out of 5 stars after 718 reviews on Amazon).

Cons:

  • Prone to damage in shipping.
  • Eye irritant.
  • Many felt this was not as good as a bucket and sponge wash.
  • Coverage was not the three to four cars per bottle, seemed more like two cars for actual users.
  • Must buff and dry aggressively, or many users found streaks and spots.
  • Many pointed out this can be used on glass, but is an expensive option compared to other glass cleaners on the market.
  • Had trouble removing water spots resulting from rain.

Meguiar’s Waterless Wash & Wax comes from a well-known car detailing products manufacturer. This product is simple to use as it is supplied ready-to-use, no mixing.

Also, this product contains a lubricant that lets your cloth glide over the surface and clean without scratching. The included wax then dries to form a glossy protective coating that repels water.

Some did find that this product struggled to remove the water spots left from rain. Also, many users felt using a hose and sponge did a better job cleaning. While that may be true of all waterless washes, there seemed to be more comments about this with the Meguiar’s product.

Another comment that ties into the cleaning power of this product, many users found they used a lot of product per wash. The actual use was about half of what is printed on the label. Meguiar’s states the bottle will clean three or four cars, but a number of users struggled to get two cleanings from a bottle.

This product is priced aggressively, in other words it is inexpensive, and if you want a basic ready-to-use waterless wash to cover you in between the deep cleanings, this product is worth a look.

 

Chemical Guys EcoSmart-RU Waterless Wash and Wax

Sale
Chemical Guys WAC_707RU_16 EcoSmart-RU...
671 Reviews
Chemical Guys WAC_707RU_16 EcoSmart-RU...
  • Wash, wax and protectant in one
  • Not just a wash - a waterless detailing system
  • Can be used on paint, wheels, windows and more
  • Safe for all car colors
  • Designed to produce a scratch-free, swirl-free shine

 Pros:

  • Safe for all car colors.
  • Available in 4, 16, and 128 oz containers.
  • Designed to produce a scratch-free, swirl-free shine.
  • For use on paint, fiberglass, metal, glass, clear plastic, wheels, windows, and more.
  • Cleans wheels and removes brake dust.
  • Use to clean autos, airplanes, motorcycle, coats, boats, bikes, etc.
  • Contains surfactants, natural carnauba wax, and lubricating agents.
  • Also comes in a concentrated version.
  • Good reviews (4.3 out of 5 stars after 564 reviews on Amazon).

Cons:

  • Dried too fast for some and made detailing things like badge letters difficult.
  • Nozzle clogged easily.
  • Trigger spray broke while using for a number of users (even some who rated the product highly called out the sprayer breaking).
  • Damage in shipping.
  • Bottle did not last long, for some just for one car wash.

Chemical Guys EcoSmart-RU Waterless Wash & Wax is another ready-to-use product that you simply spray on and wipe off, no mixing involved. And Chemical Guys is well known in the detailing world.

Containing lubricants, surfactants, and wax, EcoSmart is designed to clean with ease and lets your glide your cloth over the surfaces without scratching. It also leaves a layer of wax that protects and adds some shine.

The actual product works as expected and most of the complaints from users revolve around the bottle. The nozzle seemed to clog too easily and many received shipments where the bottle broke or leaked.

One issue that should be mentioned the amount used per wash. Depending on how dirty the car is, you may only get one cleaning from a 16 oz spray bottle, which is less than what is claimed by Chemical Guys.

As for drying and leaving streaks or residue, this product seemed to dry a little quick when working around details like badge lettering. Like all waterless wash products, this needs to be wiped and buffed with a clean, dry cloth before the product dries or it may streak or spot.

The price is not the lowest compared to other products on the market, but there is a concentrate available for those who are price conscious. This product does have good reviews and a waterless wash from a well-known manufacturer like Chemical Guys deserves a spot on anyone’s list.

 

Griot’s Garage Spray-On Car Wash

Sale
Griot's Garage 11065 Spray-On Car Wash...
392 Reviews
Griot's Garage 11065 Spray-On Car Wash...
  • Quickly and safely clean your car to a brilliant shine...
  • High lubricity liquid, so it lifts dirt and grime off the...
  • Safe and effective cleaning agent busts through road grime,...
  • Designed for use with Griot's Garage Micro Fiber Spray-On...

 Pros:

  • Contains carnauba wax.
  • Integral lubricant to allow cloth to glide over surface and reduce scratching.
  • Will not remove wax or sealant that is already on your car.
  • Available in multiple size containers (22, 35, and 128 oz.).
  • Designed for use with Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Spray-On Car Wash Cloths.
  • Many users liked the odor.
  • Good reviews (4.5 out of 5 stars after 357 reviews on Amazon).

Cons:

  • Is an eye irritant.
  • Designed for use with Griot’s Garage Micro Fiber Spray-On Car Wash Cloths.
  • Bottles leaked during shipping.
  • Only did one or two cars for some users.

Griot’s Garage Spray-On Car Wash is a ready-to-use spray from another well-known manufacturer of car detailing goods.

With carnauba wax and lubricants, it is designed to clean without scratching and leaves a smooth, shiny surface. If you scan reviews for this product, you will find that it does work as advertised.

There were a number of complaints about leaking when shipped. If you buy online, make sure to use a good vendor who packages well.

The coverage was maligned by some, but the amount of wash needed is dependent on how dirty the car is. So, keep in mind you may use more product if your car is on the dirty side. Also, you remembered waterless washing is not for heavily soiled cars, right?

One other interesting detail, Griot’s states this product is designed to be used their towel. (FYI, they do sell a kit that supplies the waterless wash and cleaning cloths together.)

This was an interesting comment from Griot’s. Since the cleaning cloth is so integral to the waterless wash technique, supplying their own clothes and stating the results are best with their towel is smart. You might say they are just trying to sell another product. Sure. But it is a way of solving a problem and ensure the nap of the cleaning cloth is correct for the job.

Well within the price range for competing waterless wash products, and containing the tried and true work horse ingredient carnauba wax, it is a strong entry for a waterless wash product.

 

What are You Waiting For?

So, there you have it, seven quality products to consider if you are interested in trying the waterless car wash technique. Time to get out there and make some car parts shine.

Happy Detailing!

 

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