Waterless car washes? Maybe just let your car stay dirty

There are plenty of promises, but perhaps it’s better to opt for a bucket or wait until the rain returns

If there’s a hosepipe ban in place, surely it’s just not a good idea from the high-minded citizen point of view to be out using commercial high-pressure systems in the first place, legally or otherwise?

If there’s a hosepipe ban in place, surely it’s just not a good idea from the high-minded citizen point of view to be out using commercial high-pressure systems in the first place, legally or otherwise?

 

With the hosepipe ban and water restrictions in place, how can one best keep one’s car clean? The best advice is probably to either use a commercial operation or just leave your car get dirty, and stay dirty, until the rain comes back.

Obviously, if you have to have a clean car then any garage with a car wash will do the job - commercial premises such as these are not subject to the ban, but there have already been concerns raised that unregulated, independent car washes are using water that they shouldn’t be using. Equally, if there’s a hosepipe ban in place, surely it’s just not a good idea from the high-minded citizen point of view to be out using commercial high-pressure systems in the first place, legally or otherwise?

What about washing at home? There is a plethora of supposedly ‘water-less’ car washing products on the market, which promise a clean car without using any water.

Spray and shine

Do they work? Sure - but only under specific circumstances. If you’re dealing with a bit of dust or the odd splash, they’re fine, but more serious dirt is just going to laugh them off. Plus, if they use a silicone-based agent to wash the car, be careful - silicone can separate in the bottle and actually work very fine particles into your paintwork, potentially damaging it. However, it should be noted that you often unwittingly run the same risk of damagingyour paint at risk if you use water and a sponge that’s been dropped on the ground, or go to a car wash whose brushes are not in the best condition…

We spoke to The Meticulous Guru, a car valeting service in the North, which has been given the official stamp of approval by car care products company Auto Glym. Their advice? Just leave the dirt. “Washing a car without water is not recommended. If you can wait, then wait” they told The Irish Times. “Bird droppings can be removed easily with wipes. If you must clean the car yourself, then grey water is better than no water if heavy soiling needs to be removed. Autoglym Rapid Detailer is an excellent waterless cleaner if used with clean, soft, micro fibre cloths, but it’s best suited for spot cleaning - bugs, bird droppings, fingerprints etc. There are trade-size packs of waterless cleaner available but again, first rinsing with grey water is better than no water at all.”

According to the RAC, though, water-less car cleaners have come on in leaps and bounds recently “most car owners might be dubious of a claimed wonder product that just requires a quick spray and a wipe to restore a lustrous shine to your car’s bodywork, with stories of swirl marks and deep scratches ringing around their heads” says the motoring organisation’s official advice.

“But technology and chemistry has moved on, allowing for products that don’t require a pre-soak to clean.The current crop of spray-on-wipe-off products shouldn’t be boycotted - given that waterless cleaners were developed to clean fighter jets in arid conditions with water in short supply, they boast a decent history.”

Bucket on the list

There is a loophole for washing your car at home, of course, and that’s using a bucket. Turning on a hose will get you fined, but filling a bucket from a tap won’t - the rationale being that bucket use will generally save a good deal of water compared to using a hose. Theoretically, using a hose to wash your car uses around 400-litres of water, but using a bucket can cut that down to 32-litres, working on the basis that people tend to leave the hose running between rinses.

Still, maybe it’s best just to leave the dirt build up for a while. Keep your screens, lights, and numberplates clean, of course, but however mucky your car gets in the next week or so, the rains will be coming again soon. This is Ireland, after all…

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