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Disadvantages of Waterless Car Wash – Is It All Gloomy?

Disadvantages of Waterless Car Wash
Last Updated on Aug 16, 2023 By Lillian Kazmierczak

Not sure if trying out waterless car washes is a good idea? Waterless wash and wax products can save you money, time, and the environment.

But what about the disadvantages? One thing is for sure, the benefits of this amazing technological innovation in the car wash industry far outweigh the drawbacks.

Let’s dig deeper and see if they really work or if they are just cheesy infomercials.

What Is Waterless Car Wash?

Waterless car washes are mostly chemical solutions that clean your car without any water. They are a relatively new but controversial line of products in the detailing industry. The main idea behind this is to make your car clean and shiny even where you have no access to water.

Washing a single-car roughly uses 30-140 gallons of water even when you are being considerate. Many people prefer a shiny car but don’t want to waste limited resources like water.

Waterless car washes use chemicals that have more lubricity than water as cleaning agents.

How Does a Waterless Car Wash Work?

Instead of using water, the waterless car wash products use high lubricity sprays to clean the outer surface of a vehicle. The high lubricity chemical solution bonds with the dust, dirt, grime, and grease particles and detaches them from the surface.

Once the motherless car has been applied, all you need to do is take a clean microfiber cloth/towel and gently rub off the dirt that gathered over the surface of your car.

The chemical solution also contains a sealer that will protect your car from dust and debris till the next wash.

Disadvantages of Waterless Car Wash

Waterless Car Wash

1. Not for everyone

This may be true that waterless car washes can give your car a smooth and shiny finish, but the products have their limitations. They work really on low to moderate dirt levels but can fight more abrasive and hardened stains.

If you have an excessively dirty car or one that hasn’t been cleaned in a long time, waterless car washes won’t do much good. You’ll need to wash your dirty car with water first.

2. Requires more time and effort

The cleaning process is more time and labor-intensive when you use waterless car washes. Unlike the traditional car washing method, you can’t just rinse off the dirt with soap and water.

With waterless car wishes, you need to work on your car one section at a time, take your hand sprayer and reach difficult spots.

3. Chemical-based

Waterless car washes use strong chemicals to get rid of all the grime, dust, and grease easily. That is why we need to be careful about using them. Most of the chemicals are mild but can cause stubborn stains if we’re not careful.

One way to avoid this problem is to use biodegradable products. Not only are they softer on your skin and your car’s paint job, but they also have less harmful effects on the environment than the ones that use strong chemicals.

4. Seemingly Expensive

At first look, the waterless car wash may look a bit expensive to you. A single gallon of premium quality waterless car wash liquid can cost up to $60 dollars.

The reason for such a high price is to make sure your car, skin, and environment do not get damaged during the cleaning process.

However, one gallon is more than enough for washing a standard-sized car almost a dozen times. As a result, waterless car washes can actually save you money in the long run.

Look at the Bright Sides

So many argue over if there are any significant disadvantages to the waterless carwash and that’s understandable. Some chemicals can be scary and it’s okay to be skeptical about them.

But let me assure you, several studies have been conducted to find out what exactly waterless car washes do and if there are any serious threats or not. They couldn’t find any.

Waterless car washes aren’t all that bad. They have some really useful applications that can keep dirt and other contaminants away from your car and give a nice glossy finish.

The most prominent advantages of waterless car washes are:

  • Zero Wastage of water

Waterless car washes can save you a lot of water per wash and give you a cleaner finish.

  • Convenient

You can use these products in any place. You don’t have to worry about finding the nearest water source anymore. That’s why it’s convenient for many of us.

  • Protective coat

Not only do waterless car washes clean your car, but they also create a protective wax layer so that your can will keep on shining till the next wash.

  • Fewer tools

Waterless car washes only need some microfiber towels to make your car look good as new. Fewer tools mean less hassle and more comfort.

  • Comparatively cheap

As the method requires fewer tools and ingredients, it can save you money from expensive car washes if you clean your car regularly.

  • More powerful

Waterless car washes not only remove the dust and dirt from your car’s surface, but also clean complex contaminations like tree sap, bird droppings, road tar, and handprints.

  • Eco-friendly

Not only do waterless car washes save money and help the environment, but most premium quality products are also biodegradable and don’t harm the surroundings.


1. When should you use a waterless car wash?

Ans: Only when you are dealing with mild to moderate levels of contamination on your car’s surface. Waterless car washes aren’t built to combat heavy stains or dirt. If your car is really dirty, pressurized water is your best bet.

2. Is waterless car wash safe for ceramic coating?

Ans: Yes. Your ceramic coating has the potential to withstand far stronger chemicals than the ones used in a waterless car wash product.

However, in some cases, the chemicals can make your coating a bit sticky and temporarily hide your coating’s water behavior. None of these is unsafe.

3. Are waterless car wash products safe?

Ans: Yes. If you don’t use waterless car wash products on heavily mudded/dirty vehicles, you should be fine. If you feel like your car needs heavy cleaning, don’t rely on waterless car wash products.

4. How Much Does a Waterless Car Wash Cost?

Ans: You can get a pretty decent quality waterless car wash for $15-20. If you want to go for the premium quality ones, they can cost you anywhere between $30-60 per gallon.

5. Does a waterless wash scratch your paint?

Ans: Not if you are using them on a mildly dirty car. The chemicals used to make waterless car washes usually have high lubricity so they won’t scratch your car.

However, we recommend that you avoid silicone-based sprays since they can trap dirt in and create complications later.

About the author

Lillian Kazmierczak

As far as I can remember, I would say I have been a car nut for my whole life. My father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. This gave me the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and get my hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

A great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity, my deep passion lies in older models that I believe have a flair that takes me back to my childhood! I also love their extraordinary durability and reliability when compared to today’s modern models.

When not out taking a ride, I enjoy socializing with fellow motorheads online and consuming any car facts and figures I can get my mind on!

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