Clean your car with virtually no water

September 8th 2015 | Benjamin Yong
Water restrictions in the Lower Mainland remain in effect, which means no car washes with the hose. Try an alternative cleaning method instead.


Even following the recent bout of rainfall we've experienced, Stage 3 Water Restrictions are still being enforced across Greater Vancouver, expected to continue until October. Unfortunately for drivers, that means no traditional residential car washing. The good news is there are alternative methods of cleaning that don’t involve hosing down your vehicle in the driveway.

What you need

• Spray-on car detailer (one bottle)

• Clean microfibre towels (four to five)

• Shaded or covered parking area

Meguiar's Ultimate Wash & Wax Anywhere

Get started

During the warmer seasons, any dirt on the paint should be a light layer accumulated from everyday driving or road dust kicked up while your car is parked outside, as opposed to caked on salt and mud commonly associated with winter. That’s why it’s not necessary to use a ton of water to loosen up the grime. A number of auto detailing product companies make waterless cleaning sprays, like Meguiar’s Ultimate Wash & Wax Anywhere.

The spray works to loosen up surface dirt so it’s easy to remove. Apply to one section of your vehicle at a time, starting from the roof and working your way to the bottom where the buildup is likely the greatest.

Towel on, towel off

After you sufficiently mist a panel, it’s time to wipe it down. This next step will be more effective if you lightly moisten the towel under the tap before proceeding. Take the microfibre and gently run it across the paint in a back-and-forth manner, rather than a circular motion to reduce the chance of visible scratches.

The dampness will ease in picking up all the grungy bits and trapping them in-between the individual strands of the cloth. Repeat this process, one panel at a time. When the towel gets dirty, flip or fold to find an untouched side. When you can’t, grab the next one.

Show time

After you spray and wipe the entire car, there may be some light streaking left over from the cleaner. If so, you should have an unused microfibre cloth leftover — use it to buff off any remaining marks. Then stand back and a) admire the results of your virtually waterless car “wash” while b) patting yourself on the back from saving hundreds of litres of H20.

About the Author

Benjamin Yong is a freelance journalist and communications professional living in Richmond, B.C. He is often found writing about cars and the auto industry, amongst other things, or driving around in his work-in-progress 1990 Mazda MX-5.

Twitter: @b_yong
Instagram: @popuplights