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My Foray Into Waterless Washing

TSLY

Member
Jul 28, 2021
214
237
Los Angleles
Car washes are Tesla's mortal enemy and inherently evil. To PPF or not? Ceramic coating? Anyone know a good mobile detailer in SoCal? A few of the thoughts that darted through my head hanging out here on TMC waiting for my MY (delivered 10/21). Followed by hours of commensurate Googling, YouTubing, and dialing. A few days ago, calling all of the above, I came across Danny, a body shop and detailing business owner in Santa Monica. Danny drives a Porsche, is 65, loves cars, and has been in the business his entire life. He liked to rap and was very forthcoming.

I was telling Danny I parked in a poorly lit underground garage with no access to water. He said, you know how I wash my Porsche? Waterless Wash! I said, what? He began to explain and suddenly I felt like I woke from deep hibernation. I bet I'm the last person to hear of waterless wash? If you haven't, Goggle it. Just kidding! Simply put, waterless wash is a car wash in a bottle. There's no water, no soap, no pails, no sponges, you spray on the magic formula, then wipe off the dirt with a microfiber towel and buff it with the towel's clean side. It cleanses, waxes, polishes, protects the clear coat, and is hydrophobic. Waterless Wash works on modestly dirty cars. If you've been off road or haven't washed your car in a while, it requires a traditional wash, first.

Long story short, haven't tried it yet but ordered all the paraphernalia. Seems like a great way to bond with my Tesla while getting some exercise. I hate car washes and gas stations, to begin with! I'll have Danny will give me one of his detailing specials, when needed. Going to pass on PPF. Danny pointed out he could repaint a fender -- if ever needed -- for a third the cost. He works on a lot of Teslas. I'm going to take a wait and see approach to ceramic coating. From what I've seen, Waterless Wash can provide similar benefits. Happy trails!
 

mackgriggs

Member
Feb 11, 2020
289
227
boise, idaho
I totally agree with you with skipping PPF, and I also pass on doing ceramic coating. Applying a paint sealant is fast and easy. Every 6 months I apply 2 coats of turtle wax hybrid solutions ceramic spray coating. Probably...$4, maybe $5 worth of product and 15 minutes maybe? Last time I put it on my glass but didn't think it did anything so will just put it on paint next time. Periodically I use the turtle wax hybrid solutions ceramic wet wax as a dry aid which helps rejuvenate the spray coating.

You are definitely right that if the car has a lot of dirt, mud, grit ...you need to spray that off first (hose or pressure wash). I personally do gary dean method rinseless washes using McKees N-914 (its perhaps anecdotally better than ONR).

For me, the problem with waterless....is that yes, you can absolutely do it but its way easier to make a mistake and mar the paint vs other techniques. The Gary dean method only uses a tiny bit a water...maybe...1/2 L total to do a car? And usually only need 4 microfiber towels (32 total sides when folded in 4ths) to do the whole tesla. Maybe 5 if dirtier than normal.

A panel of the car gets presprayed ($10 pump garden sprayer) with Mckees at 1:256 ratio, then a microfiber towel is wetted with Mckees as well (just slightly wetter than damp). Now there is Lots of lubrication to do my passes vs a waterless technique, so much less chance of scratching. Sometimes I do a second pass with a little more prespray and a clean side. After that, dry with a towel (mckees is so cheap I might even spray some as a dry aid (lubrication) for the drying step). Probably takes 15 minutes to do the whole Tesla, though I am getting faster.

Love doing rinseless washes for periodic cleaning (like front bumper to get bugs off and cleaning the rear). 5 minutes tops.

Car does not get as clean as doing foam cannon and gary dean method (0 bucket method), but goes a lot faster.
 

jebinc

EndlessVibrating PLAID, cream/FSD; MYP, wht on wht
Supporting Member
Jun 19, 2019
8,559
12,662
Seattle area
Car washes are Tesla's mortal enemy and inherently evil. To PPF or not? Ceramic coating? Anyone know a good mobile detailer in SoCal? A few of the thoughts that darted through my head hanging out here on TMC waiting for my MY (delivered 10/21). Followed by hours of commensurate Googling, YouTubing, and dialing. A few days ago, calling all of the above, I came across Danny, a body shop and detailing business owner in Santa Monica. Danny drives a Porsche, is 65, loves cars, and has been in the business his entire life. He liked to rap and was very forthcoming.

I was telling Danny I parked in a poorly lit underground garage with no access to water. He said, you know how I wash my Porsche? Waterless Wash! I said, what? He began to explain and suddenly I felt like I woke from deep hibernation. I bet I'm the last person to hear of waterless wash? If you haven't, Goggle it. Just kidding! Simply put, waterless wash is a car wash in a bottle. There's no water, no soap, no pails, no sponges, you spray on the magic formula, then wipe off the dirt with a microfiber towel and buff it with the towel's clean side. It cleanses, waxes, polishes, protects the clear coat, and is hydrophobic. Waterless Wash works on modestly dirty cars. If you've been off road or haven't washed your car in a while, it requires a traditional wash, first.

Long story short, haven't tried it yet but ordered all the paraphernalia. Seems like a great way to bond with my Tesla while getting some exercise. I hate car washes and gas stations, to begin with! I'll have Danny will give me one of his detailing specials, when needed. Going to pass on PPF. Danny pointed out he could repaint a fender -- if ever needed -- for a third the cost. He works on a lot of Teslas. I'm going to take a wait and see approach to ceramic coating. From what I've seen, Waterless Wash can provide similar benefits. Happy trails!
Looking forward to your report... I just don’t see how this process wouldn’t cause fine micro scratches/swirls. I hope you don’t have black paint! I use a foam cannon and pressure washer; connected to a warm water source. Leaf blower for the dry.
 
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Geech72

Member
Mar 10, 2021
68
62
NC
Probably once every 4 months or so I ‘ll wash my MY using a two bucket wash system, and apply a spray on ceramic coat. In between though I keep It clean using Meguir’s waterless wash. My neighbor is a ‘vette guy, who shows his car about twice a month, uses waterless wash exclusively, and introduced me to that method. He seems to win best in show every other car show, so his cleaning system must be working out for him. His Corvette is not his daily driver though and he keeps it in a garage 24/7. The MY looks great after using the waterless wash, and I don’t have any swirls so I’ve been pleased with the results. I do think it’s important though to already have a ceramic or a good wax in place for that extra protection from any scratches.
 

TSLY

Member
Jul 28, 2021
214
237
Los Angleles
I totally agree with you with skipping PPF, and I also pass on doing ceramic coating. Applying a paint sealant is fast and easy. Every 6 months I apply 2 coats of turtle wax hybrid solutions ceramic spray coating. Probably...$4, maybe $5 worth of product and 15 minutes maybe? Last time I put it on my glass but didn't think it did anything so will just put it on paint next time. Periodically I use the turtle wax hybrid solutions ceramic wet wax as a dry aid which helps rejuvenate the spray coating.

You are definitely right that if the car has a lot of dirt, mud, grit ...you need to spray that off first (hose or pressure wash). I personally do gary dean method rinseless washes using McKees N-914 (its perhaps anecdotally better than ONR).

For me, the problem with waterless....is that yes, you can absolutely do it but its way easier to make a mistake and mar the paint vs other techniques. The Gary dean method only uses a tiny bit a water...maybe...1/2 L total to do a car? And usually only need 4 microfiber towels (32 total sides when folded in 4ths) to do the whole tesla. Maybe 5 if dirtier than normal.

A panel of the car gets presprayed ($10 pump garden sprayer) with Mckees at 1:256 ratio, then a microfiber towel is wetted with Mckees as well (just slightly wetter than damp). Now there is Lots of lubrication to do my passes vs a waterless technique, so much less chance of scratching. Sometimes I do a second pass with a little more prespray and a clean side. After that, dry with a towel (mckees is so cheap I might even spray some as a dry aid (lubrication) for the drying step). Probably takes 15 minutes to do the whole Tesla, though I am getting faster.

Love doing rinseless washes for periodic cleaning (like front bumper to get bugs off and cleaning the rear). 5 minutes tops.

Car does not get as clean as doing foam cannon and gary dean method (0 bucket method), but goes a lot faster.
Thanks. I'll check it out.
 

thesmokingman

Active Member
Jun 21, 2021
1,279
2,283
Socal
Check the chemical guys video on it. They suggest you wipe in lines to prevent damage like wiping a spill up off a counter, etc etc etc. Note the car is in pretty clean condition to start.


Personally, I did ceramic on my cars myself. Then for maintenance, I use a foam cannon, pressure rinse, then shammy dry. If I have time I'll go over it with a wool sponge. It takes all of 30 minutes to do. Waterless makes sense for winters but not sure its something I'd entertain in socal.

The cars we park inside don't even need soap, a pressure spray down and fiber wipe and it looks like it got a whole treatment. Ceramic does wonders for preventing everything from sticking. Dried bird poop I can flick it right off the paint, it goes flying off.
 
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E30-4ME

Member
Jul 23, 2021
165
326
Minneapolis, MN
Thanks all for your opinions and inputs. This will be my first winter doing waterless and I've been pretty apprehensive about doing it in January/February (when we can be hitting daily highs below zero. Not that I'll be washing on those days... I'm going to have to visit a self-spray wash from time to time just to knock off the Minnesota sludge. We'll see how things look when spring comes.

I've done a thorough wash and sealant in preparation. I originally purchased the Griot's waterless product and it's been good for quick shines and as a lubricant for clay mitting our other cars, but based on the feedback from here and other forums I think I'm going to switch to ONR once the Griot's is gone.
 

jebinc

EndlessVibrating PLAID, cream/FSD; MYP, wht on wht
Supporting Member
Jun 19, 2019
8,559
12,662
Seattle area
Thanks all for your opinions and inputs. This will be my first winter doing waterless and I've been pretty apprehensive about doing it in January/February (when we can be hitting daily highs below zero. Not that I'll be washing on those days... I'm going to have to visit a self-spray wash from time to time just to knock off the Minnesota sludge. We'll see how things look when spring comes.

I've done a thorough wash and sealant in preparation. I originally purchased the Griot's waterless product and it's been good for quick shines and as a lubricant for clay mitting our other cars, but based on the feedback from here and other forums I think I'm going to switch to ONR once the Griot's is gone.
Do they salt the roads in Minn., or just sand? Not sure how well waterless wash would do with that level of grim on the paint. Thanks for letting us know how it works out!
 

gx9901

Member
Aug 1, 2021
126
187
St Paul, MN
Thanks all for your opinions and inputs. This will be my first winter doing waterless and I've been pretty apprehensive about doing it in January/February (when we can be hitting daily highs below zero. Not that I'll be washing on those days... I'm going to have to visit a self-spray wash from time to time just to knock off the Minnesota sludge. We'll see how things look when spring comes.

I've done a thorough wash and sealant in preparation. I originally purchased the Griot's waterless product and it's been good for quick shines and as a lubricant for clay mitting our other cars, but based on the feedback from here and other forums I think I'm going to switch to ONR once the Griot's is gone.
I'm trying to figure out what to do during the MN winter months since I'm afraid to put my MYP through a car wash due to those reports of the black trim being discolored. I bought a bottle of EV Wash to hopefully be able to at least wipe off some dirt/salt during the winter. Not sure how well it's going to work during the zero or below temps though.
 

Slower_driver

Member
Jul 29, 2021
16
14
NYC
I totally agree with you with skipping PPF, and I also pass on doing ceramic coating. Applying a paint sealant is fast and easy. Every 6 months I apply 2 coats of turtle wax hybrid solutions ceramic spray coating. Probably...$4, maybe $5 worth of product and 15 minutes maybe? Last time I put it on my glass but didn't think it did anything so will just put it on paint next time. Periodically I use the turtle wax hybrid solutions ceramic wet wax as a dry aid which helps rejuvenate the spray coating.

You are definitely right that if the car has a lot of dirt, mud, grit ...you need to spray that off first (hose or pressure wash). I personally do gary dean method rinseless washes using McKees N-914 (its perhaps anecdotally better than ONR).

For me, the problem with waterless....is that yes, you can absolutely do it but its way easier to make a mistake and mar the paint vs other techniques. The Gary dean method only uses a tiny bit a water...maybe...1/2 L total to do a car? And usually only need 4 microfiber towels (32 total sides when folded in 4ths) to do the whole tesla. Maybe 5 if dirtier than normal.

A panel of the car gets presprayed ($10 pump garden sprayer) with Mckees at 1:256 ratio, then a microfiber towel is wetted with Mckees as well (just slightly wetter than damp). Now there is Lots of lubrication to do my passes vs a waterless technique, so much less chance of scratching. Sometimes I do a second pass with a little more prespray and a clean side. After that, dry with a towel (mckees is so cheap I might even spray some as a dry aid (lubrication) for the drying step). Probably takes 15 minutes to do the whole Tesla, though I am getting faster.

Love doing rinseless washes for periodic cleaning (like front bumper to get bugs off and cleaning the rear). 5 minutes tops.

Car does not get as clean as doing foam cannon and gary dean method (0 bucket method), but goes a lot faster.
I also use the N914, but an even quicker process, maybe not as thorough. I just mix it 1:128 in a garden sprayer, then spray generously all over the car as the stuffs is cheap! Then I just use microfibers (a lot of them) and wipe them down, then pat myself on the back and called it a job well done =) Probably not the most thorough process but it is easy and more fun.
 
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mackgriggs

Member
Feb 11, 2020
289
227
boise, idaho
I also use the N914, but an even quicker process, maybe not as thorough. I just mix it 1:128 in a garden sprayer, then spray generously all over the car as the stuffs is cheap! Then I just use microfibers (a lot of them) and wipe them down, then pat myself on the back and called it a job well done =) Probably not the most thorough process but it is easy and more fun.

Yeah, the 1:128 is the waterless wash ratio for N914. You are describing a waterless wash if using dry microfiber towels. It can be quicker because now you don't have a drying step vs gary dean rinseless wash. Though I'm not sure how much quicker, because the drying step is pretty quick. The "wash" step of my rinseless wash version is probably faster than the waterless wash because I don't have to be as careful with the towels since I have more lubrication since my towel is wet and I can do multiple passes with the wet towel quickly, though it could be a toss up.



There's no water, no soap, no pails, no sponges, you spray on the magic formula, then wipe off the dirt with a microfiber towel and buff it with the towel's clean side. It cleanses, waxes, polishes, protects the clear coat, and is hydrophobic.

So what spray product are you using that is cleaning and then also leaving a sealant on the clear coat? So, you wipe off the dirt (which is the "cleaner" aspect...like ONR), and then with a clean side of the towel you are saying you are "buffing", which to me sounds like you are rubbing kind of quickly numerous times with the clean side of the towel like you would with a paint sealant (like, hybrid solutions ceramic sealant). It just sounds like two separate products.

Even if there is a product that does both, I would still worry about the paint. I'm not going to "buff" with a towel unless I'm absolutely sure the clear coat is spotless. Like just wiping once with a waterless wash is not what I would consider "ready to apply paint sealant" and start buffing away with a clean towel. Normally with a paint sealant I would foam cannon wash, rinse, then apply clay lubricant (foam cannon again or N914 1:128 ratio) and use clay mitt (fast) or bar, rinse, dry. Now apply paint sealant. Don't get me wrong...you probably CAN do sealant after a waterless wash, but you had better be 100% sure that there is no dirt left on the car before you start "buffing" with a towel.
 

TSLY

Member
Jul 28, 2021
214
237
Los Angleles
Yeah, the 1:128 is the waterless wash ratio for N914. You are describing a waterless wash if using dry microfiber towels. It can be quicker because now you don't have a drying step vs gary dean rinseless wash. Though I'm not sure how much quicker, because the drying step is pretty quick. The "wash" step of my rinseless wash version is probably faster than the waterless wash because I don't have to be as careful with the towels since I have more lubrication since my towel is wet and I can do multiple passes with the wet towel quickly, though it could be a toss up.





So what spray product are you using that is cleaning and then also leaving a sealant on the clear coat? So, you wipe off the dirt (which is the "cleaner" aspect...like ONR), and then with a clean side of the towel you are saying you are "buffing", which to me sounds like you are rubbing kind of quickly numerous times with the clean side of the towel like you would with a paint sealant (like, hybrid solutions ceramic sealant). It just sounds like two separate products.

Even if there is a product that does both, I would still worry about the paint. I'm not going to "buff" with a towel unless I'm absolutely sure the clear coat is spotless. Like just wiping once with a waterless wash is not what I would consider "ready to apply paint sealant" and start buffing away with a clean towel. Normally with a paint sealant I would foam cannon wash, rinse, then apply clay lubricant (foam cannon again or N914 1:128 ratio) and use clay mitt (fast) or bar, rinse, dry. Now apply paint sealant. Don't get me wrong...you probably CAN do sealant after a waterless wash, but you had better be 100% sure that there is no dirt left on the car before you start "buffing" with a towel.
After researching till I was bleary eyed, YouTubing dozens of how-tos, and a preponderance of best review #1s, here's my waterless wash kit:

- Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All (w/ Good How-To Vid)
- Mr. Sprayer Full Function Atomizer and Pump Sprayer
- 12 SoLiD Multipurpose Plush Microfiber Edgeless Cleaning Cloth Towels (+ 50% off)
- WaterWipes Sensitive Baby Diaper Wipes (Seats & Dash)

If I like Aero Wash Wax All, great! If not, the basic kit will allow me to experiment with competing waterless wash brands. Good luck!
 

E30-4ME

Member
Jul 23, 2021
165
326
Minneapolis, MN
Do they salt the roads in Minn., or just sand? Not sure how well waterless wash would do with that level of grim on the paint. Thanks for letting us know how it works out!
They definitely use salt in Minnesota, as well as a chemical spray de-icer (at least in the Twin Cities). I do wonder how it's going to work, for sure.

Good thing it's my wife's car :p
 
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You guys are killing me. I'm picking up my MYLR Saturday (white ext/black int). With my other cars, I might drive them through an automatic car wash 3x a year, clean the inside maybe 2x a year (who am I kidding?), using whatever household cleaning products I have on hand. (yes, I know, not the right way to go). I'm in Quebec so lots of dirt & salt on roads from Nov to April. How often do I REALLY need to wash my car? I don't want to be hand cleaning it every week. Would a touchless automatic car wash every no and again really be so bad? (I probably won't see many, if any, above-0 temps for the next 3 months). And what about the sensors? How do you keep them clean? With my Subaru, I like to wipe off the rear camera with my finger whenever I walk by. Any help on how to keep it simple without causing undue damage would be greatly appreciated :)
 
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E30-4ME

Member
Jul 23, 2021
165
326
Minneapolis, MN
You guys are killing me. I'm picking up my MYLR Saturday (white ext/black int). With my other cars, I might drive them through an automatic car wash 3x a year, clean the inside maybe 2x a year (who am I kidding?), using whatever household cleaning products I have on hand. (yes, I know, not the right way to go). I'm in Quebec so lots of dirt & salt on roads from Nov to April. How often do I REALLY need to wash my car? I don't want to be hand cleaning it every week. Would a touchless automatic car wash every no and again really be so bad? (I probably won't see many, if any, above-0 temps for the next 3 months). And what about the sensors? How do you keep them clean? With my Subaru, I like to wipe off the rear camera with my finger whenever I walk by. Any help on how to keep it simple without causing undue damage would be greatly appreciated :)

Hi VBMOM - I think you have found yourself mixed up with a group of highly anxious and obsessive car owners (of which I am a proud member :p ). Some of us are older and remember the years of cars rusting from the inside out thanks to the salt on our roads, others just like having a clean car despite living in an area that doesn't make that easy.

I don't recommend using household cleaners on any car (with the exception of glass cleaner for obvious reasons). In particular, never, never, never (NEVER) use dish soap to clean the outside. It is too harsh. Just go to any convenient local auto parts store for cleaners that are made for your exterior/interior surfaces. They aren't expensive and they last for a reasonably long time as long as you don't let them freeze in your garage (ask me how I know...). You don't need professional grade detailer products if you aren't interested in that level of cost/maintenance.

There are 2 primary concerns I have with automatic washes (one of which I am generally willing to live with). First, automatic washes with brushes have a high likelihood of scratching up your paint. The brushes gather the abrasive dirt and grime from all of the cars that go through ahead of you and swirl it into your paint, resulting in spiderweb scratches. If you have a decent sealant/wax/other protection this will be minimize or eliminated because you'll effectively just be slowly removing that product. This is a general issue, and you just have to decide if it's important enough to you to avoid using them. Second, and this one is more specific to Teslas, automatic car washes - particularly the touchless ones - use fairly harsh detergents to accomplish their job and in many cases it has resulted in discoloration of the black anodized trim around the car (the alternative to chrome). This can be polished off, but the compulsive among us would just rather avoid it in the first place.

For the cameras - I'm generally a finger-wiper too if I'm out on the road. Sometimes I just pick up a little snow to get my finger wet, than rub it over. I'm a little more careful with the pillar cameras because I don't want to scratch whatever is covering the camera (it isn't glass like the windshield or less on the rear camera). I just use microfiber towels at home. And worst case, if my cameras and sensors are covered, I use my eyes. ;)
 
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Hi VBMOM - I think you have found yourself mixed up with a group of highly anxious and obsessive car owners (of which I am a proud member :p ). Some of us are older and remember the years of cars rusting from the inside out thanks to the salt on our roads, others just like having a clean car despite living in an area that doesn't make that easy.

I don't recommend using household cleaners on any car (with the exception of glass cleaner for obvious reasons). In particular, never, never, never (NEVER) use dish soap to clean the outside. It is too harsh. Just go to any convenient local auto parts store for cleaners that are made for your exterior/interior surfaces. They aren't expensive and they last for a reasonably long time as long as you don't let them freeze in your garage (ask me how I know...). You don't need professional grade detailer products if you aren't interested in that level of cost/maintenance.

There are 2 primary concerns I have with automatic washes (one of which I am generally willing to live with). First, automatic washes with brushes have a high likelihood of scratching up your paint. The brushes gather the abrasive dirt and grime from all of the cars that go through ahead of you and swirl it into your paint, resulting in spiderweb scratches. If you have a decent sealant/wax/other protection this will be minimize or eliminated because you'll effectively just be slowly removing that product. This is a general issue, and you just have to decide if it's important enough to you to avoid using them. Second, and this one is more specific to Teslas, automatic car washes - particularly the touchless ones - use fairly harsh detergents to accomplish their job and in many cases it has resulted in discoloration of the black anodized trim around the car (the alternative to chrome). This can be polished off, but the compulsive among us would just rather avoid it in the first place.

For the cameras - I'm generally a finger-wiper too if I'm out on the road. Sometimes I just pick up a little snow to get my finger wet, than rub it over. I'm a little more careful with the pillar cameras because I don't want to scratch whatever is covering the camera (it isn't glass like the windshield or less on the rear camera). I just use microfiber towels at home. And worst case, if my cameras and sensors are covered, I use my eyes. ;)
Thanks E30-4ME for taking the time to break it down for me. Out of curiosity? What's your winter car washing routine?
 

E30-4ME

Member
Jul 23, 2021
165
326
Minneapolis, MN
In the BT (before Tesla) era, I was an automatic wash 1-2 times a month type in the winters. But I would apply a good sealant before winter to avoid the spiderwebs. Still will continue to do that on our other cars.

But the trim discoloration issue is keeping me from doing that on the Tesla, so I am using a rinseless wash (I have a Griot’s product currently, but will likely switch to one called Optimum No Rinse (ONR). With these, I just mix a bucket of the wash with water and use a series of clean microfiber towels to wash/rinse by panel. You just basically get the towel saturated, wring it out, and wipe the surface down in straight passes. If the car is super filthy I’ll go to a self spray and rinse it first to knock off the worst of the grime. It goes pretty quickly, even though my garage isn’t heated - so the car might not get much love in Jan/Feb. I suppose I could try sealing the trim and then going through a touch less wash, but I actually enjoy detailing. I’m a bit neurotic…
 

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