How To: Rinseless Washing

Updated: Jul 1, 2021

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What You'll Need:

•(2) 4 or 5 gallon buckets (wash bucket and rinse bucket)

• 3 gallons of water (2 gallons for wash bucket, 1 gallon for rinse bucket)

• Dedicated rinseless car soap such as Optimum No-Rinse

• 2 (preferably, but 1 will work) microfiber wash mitts

• Grit guard insert (optional)

• 1 Microfiber drying towel

• Spray wax (if applicable)

Before You Start

You'll want to wash your wheels and tires before you wash the surface of your car. If you are going to use a rinseless wash, you likely don't have access to outside water. If this is the case, there are a few good waterless wheel and tire cleaners available everywhere. We recommend Meguiar's Ultimate Waterless Wheel and Tire Cleaner.

Getting Set Up

Now that you have everything you need, you want to fill one bucket with 2 gallons of water and one bucket with 1 gallon of water. To avoid the already low risk of water spots, distilled water is best, but using this method, even in direct sunlight, you shouldn't have to worry much. If you live somewhere without outside water access, I recommend filling your buckets in your sink or bathtub. Typically, six inches of water in a 5 gallon bucket will equal 2 gallons. Use a sharpie marker and a tape measure or ruler and mark your fill line. Naturally, 3 inches will give you 1 gallon.

Once you have filled your buckets with the correct amount of water, you want to add 1 oz of your rinseless car soap. I can't speak for other brands, but the cap on a 32 oz bottle of Optimum No Rinse is a 1/2 oz. You'll need 2 caps of soap in our situation. If you have purchased a grit guard insert, you'll want to place it in the bottom of your rinse bucket. The grit guard will trap dirt and debris that you have picked up from your car in the bottom of the bucket, keeping your rinse water clean.

Washing Your Car

Now that your buckets are ready, its time to start washing. Its best to have 2 microfiber wash mitts, but for this walk through, we'll assume you're only using one. We're going to wash one side of the car at a time, starting on the driver's side roof and working our way down.

Dip your wash mitt into your soap bucket and wring it out well, but not until its dry. You want a slight drip of soap and water still coming out of your mitt. Starting on the driver's side of the roof of your car, gently wipe the surface of the vehicle in back and forth or circular motions. Remember, we're only washing one side right now, so stick to the driver's side of the roof. No need to repeatedly walk in circles around the car. If you have chosen to use a spray wax, you can incorporate waxing into this step for convenience.

Once half of the roof has been lathered in soap, put your wash mitt into the rinse bucket and grab your spray wax. Lightly spray your wax over the wet area. You don't need a lot here, one or two sprays per area will work. Grab your drying towel and gently dry over the washed and waxed area. You want to work the wax in, but don't scrub to the point that you absorb it from the car. At this point, you should have one side of the roof washed, waxed and dried.

Grab your wash mitt from the rinse bucket and thoroughly rinse it out and dip it back into the wash bucket. You want to repeat this rinsing process after each section. Lightly wring it out and begin washing the driver window and door. Remember to start at the top and work your way down. Once you have washed the area, put your mitt back in your rinse bucket and lightly spray the driver window and door with your wax. Dry the area and move to the driver's side back door and repeat the process.

Now that you have one side of the car washed, waxed and dried, move to the other side of the car. Starting with the passenger side of the roof, perform the same exact process as you did on the driver's side of the car. Now that both sides of the car are taken care of, move to the windshield. Follow the same process as before, doing only one half of the windshield. Remember to lift the wipers first so you don't miss anything. After you do one half of the windshield, you can go around and do the other half. Once you are finished, begin washing the hood. You can wash the entire hood in one shot, but if it is excessively dirty, or if its really hot and sunny, stick to one half at a time.

Next is the front end of the car, which includes the grill. This is usually the most detailed area of the car. You can spend as much time as you feel necessary here, but the process is the same. Divide the front end in half, washing, drying and waxing one section at a time.

Onto the final area, the rear windshield, trunk and back bumper. The back end has more detail than the sides of the car, but is usually not as tedious as the front end of the car. Nothing special here. Divide the back windshield into halves, continue to the trunk and move downward to the bottom of the car.

Final Touches

After completing your final section, walk the car and dry any water that has dripped from mirrors, seals, etc. Also, be sure to check your wheels for water from your wash. You'll want to dry them up so water spots aren't left behind. You've now performed your first of hopefully many rinse-less car washes. It seems like a lot at first, but its a very efficient process after doing it a few times.

I hope this guide was helpful and as always, reach out with any questions you have. We're here to help!

Eric McKeown

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