We tested the leading products and the winner might surprise you.
As we have previously written, we are big fans of waterless car washes, especially those that are eco-friendly. For the vast majority of drivers who wash their own cars, eco-friendly waterless car wash is unquestionably the best way to wash a car. The products are formulas that are sprayed on and wiped off to remove dirt and grime from your car. Follow the wipe with a quick buff and your car is cleaned (and waxed in some cases) without water. The whole process takes 20-30 minutes, depending on the size of your car and the amount of grime. It’s a high-quality, quick, cost-effective, and environmentally-friendly way to wash your car. Best of all? You can wash your car anywhere. See for yourself:
There are many waterless car wash products on the market. So which is best? We’ve got the answer.
What did we do?
We started with a round of intensive market research to identify the leading eco-friendly waterless washes. We then considered price points, customer reviews, and availability to narrow our list. Using this information, we selected five of the top eco-products for testing – all of which can be ordered online, and most of which are available on Amazon. The products we examined were: (1) Ecotouch Waterless Carwash, (2) Ecosmart RU by The Chemical Guys, (3) Green Clean Waterless Car Shampoo Superior, (4) Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All and (5) Ecogreen Autoclean Freedom Car Wash. After a first round of testing, we picked our top 3 products and compared them to a leading waterless car wash that does not market itself as eco-friendly, Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax. From this group of 4, we picked our winner and other two favorites.
How did we do it?
To get an overall idea of how the products performed against each other, we first tested them out on a “moderately dirty” 2017 Honda Fit, owned by one of our employees.
A different product was used on each panel and compared side by side. Since is difficult to analyze differences in a quantifiable way, we came up with some of our own ease of use and quality measures: How well does it lift dirt? How much pressure needs to be applied? How smooth in the finish? How is the shine? How does it smell (believe us, smell matters)? Does it work on windows and tires? How eco-friendly are the ingredients? Each member of our team scored each product against these criteria. We then totaled the scores to identify our top picks.
After comparing each product on the Honda Fit, we narrowed our initial five products down to our three favorites, and put them to the test against another employee-owned car, a “road-trip dirty” 2009 Volkswagen Jetta, with caked on stains from dirt, sap, and some unlucky insects.
If stains remained after the first round of washing, a second round of spot application and heavy wiping was used. We also used this opportunity to compare each of the top three against our conventional waterless product, Meguiars.
This allowed us to pick our favorite performer, which we then tested on a “slightly dirty” Porsche Boxster to evaluate the finish and overall clean on a car where any imperfection would stand out. We were pleasantly surprised with the results, as was the owner!
What did we learn?
At the start of the test, we were unsure if we would see clear differences between the products. In some tests, the products performed similarly. For example, no product was able to remove sap, and all products required a second spot treatment for some of the caked on stains on the VW Jetta. In addition, each of our recommended products performed similarly on windows and tires, lifting dirt and/or brake dust while leaving a nice shine. However, when it came to overall ease-of-use and quality of the finish, three products stood out, and the same one was rated #1 by each of our judges – Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All. Products that did not make our recommended products list left the car with a tacky or sticky finish and/or failed to lift dirt effectively. We were surprised to find that all three of our “eco-friendly” recommendations outperformed the conventional, similarly priced alternative, Meguiars.
Our Recommended Products:
#1 Performer: Aero Cosmetics Wash Wax All
$37.95 for 144oz. Kit ($0.26/oz.) [Microfiber Towels, Sponge, Spray Bottle Included]
This product lifted dirt easily and left the car with a lasting shine that consistently left us impressed. It had the smoothest finish among all examined products. We enjoyed scent and felt that the wash was a cut above the rest. One minor downside – if you buy the gallon (good for at least 16-24 washes), you may have to purchase your own spray bottles for a couple bucks. Made with carnauba wax, natural clay, coconut and sunflower oils, and UV light inhibitors, the product is nontoxic, 100% natural, and easy on the hands. Moderately priced, and worth every penny. It worked great on the Porsche.
Overall Grade: A
#2 Performer: Green Clean Waterless Car Shampoo Superior
$43.47 for 16oz ($2.72/oz) On sale for $16.97 for 16oz ($1.06/oz)
Green Clean was our second favorite product. We gave it points for its pleasant smell. It also easy lifted up dirt easily, and left the car with a good finish. However, the clean and buff required a little extra elbow grease and the finish was not quite as smooth as Aero Cosmetics’, leading to its 2nd place finish. The product performed well for the “eco friendliness” of its ingredients. It is 100% biodegradable, using plant-derived surfactants and other nontoxic ingredients to wipe away dirt. Not a bargain, but a strong performer.
Overall Grade: B+
#3 Performer: Ecosmart RU by The Chemical Guys
$16.94 for 16oz ($1.06/oz)
Rounding off our top three recommendations was Ecosmart RU. It provided a nice clean, and performed as expected, with similar results to Green Clean Superior. There were some areas on the Honda Fit and VW Jetta that required a spot treatment after the first wipe. Meanwhile, it finished 3rd on the smoothness scale. Ecosmart RU had an enjoyable scent and a moderate price point. However, it did not include an ingredient list to verify its “greenness,” nor did it did not advertise itself as 100% natural or biodegradable like other products. Still, a great middle-of-the-road option.
Overall Grade: B
Conclusion: Go eco-friendly waterless and get Aero
Like many consumers in this market, we went into our test not knowing what to expect from waterless car wash, let alone eco-friendly waterless car wash. We emerged firmly convinced that eco-friendly waterless car wash is the best way to wash and wax a car for most drivers. We were pleasantly surprised by many of the products we tested. Given the ease of use, affordability, and environmental benefits, it pays to go green and buy an eco-friendly waterless car wash.
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