Waterless Car Wash Guide

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Waterless Car Wash

Waterless Car Washes are the easiest and most efficient way to clean your cars bodywork without the need for water but not all waterless products are the same. All Waterless Car Washes use the same principles; Cleaners to loosen the dirt and grime, wetting agents, lubricants and emulsifiers to lift the dirt away from the paint surface and encapsulate it so it can be removed without damaging the paint and finally a wax or polymer to impart a shine and protective layer on the paint work. Its this last component that will ultimately decide how good the product is as its this shine that you see. So what are the main differences?

  • Firstly you will notice that some washes are two-part products and have 2 visibly different layers, usually a yellow top product with a creamy coloured bottom product. These two-part waterless washes need shaking in order to mix the ingredients before every use.
  • Then there are the one part products that do not separate. They both do the same job but their chemical make-ups are dramatically different. The two-part products rely heavily on man-made chemicals where as one part products use mostly natural ingredients.
Kerosene & Solvents
  • Secondly some waterless washes actually use Kerosene and solvents in the formulation to help dissolve tar spots and clean the vehicle's paint work! Would you pour diesel, petrol, or white spirits on your paint? This is mainly found in the two-part products (the top yellow part) and can be instantly identified by just smelling the product. You will certainly know when you've used a waterless car wash with kerosene in it, just smell your hands and cloths when you've finished! Don't get me wrong, I love the smell of fuel, i'm weird like that but I don't want to stink of the stuff!
    Also, can it really be a good thing if the ingredients in the product don't mix well? They're constantly forcing themselves away from each other and I don't personally see how this can be a good thing.
  • The one part products use other chemicals to do this, usually natural soaps and emulsifiers and as such are much better for the environment as they do not release solvents into the atmosphere.
Shine & Protection
  • The third main difference is what is used to give you the shine and protection. Most products use natural waxes usually Carnauba Wax or Montan Wax. The difference between these two waxes is that Montan wax comes from lignite or brown coal by way of a solvent extraction process. Carnauba wax is natural and considered the best wax for car polishes because it is the hardest of all waxes. It's only found in certain areas of Brazil so is sometimes called Brazil Wax - there is no solvent process to extract this product.
  • Some products use synthetic polymers to leave a protective layer and shine on a vehicle. The drawback to this as with any other man-made product is the cost to the environment in the production of these chemicals.  Many waterless car washes claim to be environmentally friendly and of course they all are to an extent as they save water but when you get down to the nuts and bolts of these products some are certainly friendlier than others.
Buying Foreign Products?
Another important note to consider regarding a product being "environmentally friendly" is a products origin. This is strangely overlooked by most people, but when considering an environmentally friendly product, does it make sense to buy a product that wasn't even made in the UK? A lot of the big name brands are brought in from America!
UK Manufacturers
There are however only a handful of manufacturers in the UK that produce waterless car wash products. One of these manufacturer's actually makes a large chunk of the products out there on the market. They'll manufacture the product in any colour you want and quite a few are available on eBay in various guises, namely green, orange and red but ultimately the products are the same. They also have a strange separating problem. They're like a 3-part product in that they separate like those with kerosene in them but they also have floating white bits in them that stick to the sides of the bottle and once they're stuck there - that's where they stay! So if they don't get used on your car - what are they in the bottle for? SHOULD that ingredient be protecting your paint??? I certainly hope not.
On reflection, the differences between the products out there on the market is the impact on the environment and the performance of the product. Generally speaking the best Waterless Car Washes are biodegradable, contain no solvents (Kerosene), don't separate and use natural Carnauba Wax.
Most products give a good result that some people will be happy with but others will give a much better result and are much better and nicer to use (for you and the environment). My advice would be; stick to products that do not separate, products that don't contain kerosene and products that are made right here in the UK. Also, look for Carnauba Wax as it offers the best level of shine and protection.
REMEMBER - Always check product feedback on eBay, this will give you a good idea of how good a particular product is.

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