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To Rinse or Not to Rinse

The two bucket wash method is the current "Gold Standard" for preventing swirl marks and scratches to your car's finish when washing your car.  Lately, an alternative method of car washing has garnered a lot of "buzz".  This method is often referred to as the "Rinseless" wash method.


Some of the advantages to using a rinseless wash:

  1. Allows you to wash your car in the garage even on a cold day
  2. Uses much less water than conventional wash methods. Great when access to water is limited such as living in an apartment or condo
  3. Uses less product
  4. Saves time

Dozens of companies now offer rinseless products. Some products combine a wax or sealant to provide a clean and shine in one simple step. The product, however, is often less important than the wash method itself. I recommend you pick a product you like and feel comfortable using.

The rinseless solution is typically made by adding one or two ounces of product to several gallons of water.

Once mixed, there are a number of different ways to use the solution.  Soaking a microfiber towel in a bucket of solution is the simplest and potentially the most dangerous to your paint.  Adding a second bucket of fresh water to rinse your towel in after each application, just like two bucket method, significantly reduces the chance of damaging your car's finish.  Others, such as Garry Dean, have developed a rinseless method that uses one bucket and multiple towels to even further minimize the chances of introducing swirls and scratches.

After trying all the different wash methods, my preferred method is the one bucket, multiple towels. I believe this method is the least likely to cause any swirls and scratches because you never introduce a dirty towel back into the solution,

No matter what application method you choose, follow these common steps:

  1. Apply the solution to one section of the car at a time
  2. Start at the top and work your way to the bottom
  3. Fold the towel in quarters.  Flip to a new quarter when one becomes dirty
  4. Glide the towel across the finish in a straight line with minimum pressure.  Avoid washing in a circular motion
  5. Immediately dry each section after washing.  A waffle weave towel is ideal for drying

When removing a towel from the solution, some prefer to wring out about 50-75% of the excess solution before applying  On the other hand, I like to keep my towel as wet as possible.  I'm a firm believer that the more lubrosity between the towel and paint, the less chance there is for paint damage.  I also mix the rinseless product in a 16 oz spray bottle at a concentration to use as a quick detailer or clay bar lube (usually 8 oz to a gallon of water), and use that as a pre-spray on each section prior to washing.  Again,  the more lubrosity and dirt encapsulation the less chances for swirls.

As long as your vehicle is not covered in layers of dirt and road crime,  the rinseless wash method provides a quick, safe, and eco-friendly method to clean your car.  For some people this is the only method they use to wash their car.  Give it a try,  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised how well it cleans and protects the finish of your car.

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