Best waterless car wash 2018

Top up the shine on your car, or give it a quick clean in the garage, as we pick from a variety of buys for hose-free washing

From being a niche product before hosepipe bans hit the UK, waterless cleaners are now a must for any car care range – even when the reservoirs are full.

A waterless cleaner is also great for using undercover or in the garage if you’re dodging summer showers. If time is short, they’re often faster than a bucket and sponge plus a tin of wax when cleaning and protecting paintwork. So which is the best waterless car wash? We grabbed our microfibre cloths and and a variety of top sellers to find out. 

VerdictBest buy: Meguiar’s Wash & Wax Anywhere

All our test products cleaned well, but the best overall package again comes from reigning champ Meguiar’s. Others try, but just fail to match its winning blend of easy wiping and grime shifting.

Waterless car wash reviewsMeguiar’s Wash & Wax Anywhere

Price: Around £15 
Size: 768ml
Rating: 5.0

It was close with the Auto Curators Rapid Cleanse, but Meguiar’s just hangs on to its crown. It’s the complete package for a waterless cleaner. It leaves no marks if bits are missed on black trim, and it lifts dirt easily. Its trigger delivers a fine mist and minimises wastage. Not much effort is required to buff and the finish repels water very well. A competitive price completes the winning combination.

Buy it from Amazon here

Armor All Waterless Wash & Wax

Price: £10
Size: 500ml
Rating: 4.0

Spray-on, wipe-off approach here is a more conventional waterless cleaner. Instructions are vague about where it can be used, but on paint it lifted grime cleanly, if not quite as much as the Meguiar’s. You need to buff with a second cloth, giving a good gloss, water-repellent finish. The spray goes on in spots, so you need more to cover the same area. A promising debut, but Meguiar’s still has the edge. 

Auto Curators Rapid Cleanse

Price: £20
Size: 1,000ml
Rating: 4.0

This is part of a range of high-end car care products developed by detailing specialist Auto Curators. Rapid Cleanse Quick Detailer, to give it its full name, is designed to be used to top up shine and wax protection. Usefully, it can work on glass and trim as well as paint. Rapid Cleanse can also be used as a rinse aid to reduce the risk of water spotting.

It works well as a waterless cleaner, lifting grime easily and, crucially, going on in a fine mist. This allows one trigger pull to cover a wide area. Just wipe with one cloth to remove dirt, then buff with another. It leaves a water-repellent finish, albeit working a bit more slowly than the winner here. The big pack means a keen price, but it trails the winner by a small margin.

Triplewax Waterless Wash & Shine

Price: Around £4 
Size: 1,000ml
Rating: 4.0

You get one litre of cleaner for around half as much as several rivals here charge for 500ml, making this an easy budget choice. It’s sprayed on, wiped with one cloth and buffed with another. The spray is a little thick with some spots, but we reckon the pack claim of cleaning 10 cars is viable. It didn’t clean as well as our top two and it was in the midfield in the beading test, although this remains a cost-effective option.

Buy it from Amazon here

Eco Touch Waterless Car Wash

Price: Around 9 
Size: 500ml
Rating: 4.0

Former champ remains a favourite, delivering a fine, wide spray and good cleaning power. It matched our winner on heavy grime, and while it didn’t bead as well, it was clearly working. Usefully, the non-toxic, biodegradable formula can go on wet and dry cars if heavy mud is hosed off first.

Buy it from Amazon here

WOW Classic & Sports Box Kit

Price: Around £11 
Size: 500ml
Rating: 4.0

With Out Water’s kit has impressed before, and this Classic & Sports version, with its higher gloss and protection, does, too. It’s wax free, like all WOW products, so it suits non-porous surfaces, like glass. It cleaned as well as our winner, but didn’t bead as fast. Comes with coloured cloths for cleaning and buffing.

Buy it from Amazon here

Diamondbrite Waterless Wash & Wax

Price: Around £7 (£15 with cloth) 
Size: 500ml
Rating: 4.0

New Diamondbrite wash impressed. Like most rivals it needs to be sprayed on and wiped with a microfibre then buffed with a second one. The sweet-smelling cleaner – it resembles fruit drops – goes on in a wide, but fine spray. According to Diamondbrite, a bottle is good for around five cars. It’s available alone or as part of a pack with a large, thick cloth for £15. Yet while the cloth is good, two smaller ones would be better for this job. It’s big enough to use different sections for cleaning and buffing, but two cloths make life easier. 

Buy it from eBay here

Armor All Express Wash & Wax Wipes

Price: £10
Size: 12 wipes 
Rating: 3.5

The original Car Wash Wipes arrived in the middle of the last decade and won our first test of waterless washes in 2006 during a period of hosepipe bans. These are a bit smaller, at 38x25cm, but still larger than regular valeting wipes. They are also thicker, so easy to handle. They lift grime away effectively, but when fresh out of the pack leave a liquid residue.

Armor All suggests buffing with a microfibre cloth on glass and dark cars; it’s a good idea in most cases because the results are better. As the wipe dries this is not so much of a problem. But these are around twice the cost of bigger versions from a decade or so ago. We used two wipes; a whole car would take two or three more, hiking the cost.

Celectro Trident Waterless Wash

Price: £14
Size: 500ml
Rating: 3.0

Trident is a waterless wash rather than a detailer, and works well, but lacked attention to detail and left us confused.

Celectro’s range is for cars and motorbikes, and this product is in the latter category. Instructions also don’t say whether it’s okay for glass and trim. A pity, because it leaves a fast-beading finish, although the trigger spray could mist better and we found it easy to use too much. Not ideal at this price.

Dirtbusters Waterless Wash & Wax

Price: Around £5 
Size: 500ml
Rating: 3.0

Like Eco Touch this has no hazardous ingredients. And you can smell the mint, cherry, coconut or summer berry fragrances as you spray the cloth and car before wiping and buffing with a second microfibre. It cleaned and beaded well, but trailed the best in this very close test.

Buy it from Amazon here

PRO3 No Water

Best price: Around £8 
Size: 250ml
Rating: 3.0

PRO3 has gone its own way with this waterless cleaner, and not just with the graphics and aluminium bottles. Unlike any other products we’ve tried there is no trigger to apply the cleaner and allow it to soak before wiping; instead it goes directly on to the cloth. Care is needed here because it can run straight off again if you try to hurry the process. Once on it works well enough at lifting grime, but the method is clumsy compared with rivals. It buffs well, too, although even if you prefer this approach the high price is hard to ignore. 

Triplewax Shake & Shine

Price: Around £8 
Size: 600ml
Rating: 3.0

New Triplewax product aims to add a wax where Wash & Shine primarily cleans. And this is key to its problems as white overspray has to be removed – a pain on intricate trim. This is a pity as it cleaned well on light grime, plus it beaded strongly. On the dirtier car, it needed a few more wipes.

Buy it from Amazon here

Turtle Wax Waterless Wash

Price: Around £10 
Size: 500ml
Rating: 3.0

New livery for Turtle Wax’s Waterless Wash, and the large microfibre cloth has been dropped. Yet the formula still works well: it got a perfect score on the light dirt panel, and while it struggled on the thicker grime, it made good progress.

Buy it from Amazon here

Williams Waterless Wash n Wax

Price: Around £10 
Size: 1,000ml
Rating: 3.0

Licensed by the Williams’ F1 team, this cleaner shows promise. The pack claims it contains carnauba, but it was slowest to bead water at the end of the test; instead, it starred on cleaning. Trigger is adjustable, but it was hard to get a fine mist. Even so, this white formula doesn’t suffer Shake & Shine’s overspray.

Buy it from Amazon here

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