Image for the article titled How To Wash Your Car Without Water (And Why You Should Consider It)

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Whether you usually wash your car (or SUV, truck, van, etc.) yourself or take it to a car wash, you probably don’t get to it as often as you’d like. A DIY wash job saves money, but not necessarily time – especially when you factor in all of the tubing.

For various reasons – including prolonged droughts and water scarcity in certain parts of the country – some people choose to wash their car without water. But is that bad for your car? So, does it work? Here’s what you should know.

How to wash a car without water

Before we get into that, we should note that if your vehicle is completely covered in mud, dirt, and / or dust, you will likely need to use water. But for routine washes, it is possible to go waterless. So what’s up with it?

Instead of the usual set-up with a hose, bucket of water and cleaning solution, waterless car wash products are premixed and delivered in the form of a spray. The idea is to spray the solution on the parts of your car that you want to clean, and then wipe those sections clean.

In an article for the CNET roadshow, Brian Cooley – who used the waterless technique himself – gives a few pointers:

  • Use the right products: Waterless car wash sprays are not the same as general purpose car sprays. “You need something that loosens and lubricates dirt so you don’t damage the paintwork on your car or become frustrated removing stubborn dirt,” writes Cooley.
  • Wipe with a microfiber cloth: Not only are they super soft, according to Cooley, but they also trap particles quickly. Kitchen and paper towels, on the other hand, make the process longer, don’t work very well, and therefore can create the impression that you need to scrub harder than necessary, which can damage the paintwork of your car.
  • Towel right: In addition to the type of towel, according to Cooley, your technique is also important. So what does good towel technology look like? “You want to use a wiping pattern that doesn’t cross over while you relentlessly flip or change the towel,” he writes.

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Is It A Good Idea To Wash Your Car Without Water?

As with most things, it depends. If you live in a water scarce location or are trying to reduce your water usage regardless of location, a waterless car wash is a great option in many situations.

As mentioned before, really dusty / dirty / muddy vehicles likely need some water. But for regular amounts of street grime and grime, a waterless car wash should be enough, according to Cooley. Just be sure to purchase the right cleaning product and towel for the best results.