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Ways To Wash a Car Without a Hose

Are you out of luck if you want to wash your car but don't have a hose? No. Learn how to get your ride clean with little or no water.

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Man worker of car detailing studio removing scratches on car varnishdjedzura/Getty Images

Mobile Detailing

Letting someone else clean your car may seem like a copout. And it can be expensive. But if you watch a pro do it, you’ll learn how they go about it and what products they use. That will make the job easier when you take it on yourself.

Check online for auto detailers near you. Many offer mobile detailing, so they’ll come to your place with all they need to make your ride shine. Prices in my Minneapolis area range from $50 to $600 for two to five hours of work, depending on whether you want the basic or luxury package.

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Car wash brushesPhoThoughts/Getty Images

Car Wash

This is certainly one way to wash your car without a hose.

Modern drive-through car washing is often less abrasive than the typical home wash with the wrong kinds of sponges, rags, towels, brushes, cleaners, etc. But it may also be less likely to clean your car the way you want. And some automatic car washes may hurt your car’s paint just as much as an improper home wash.

Automatic car washes conserve water by recycling it, which is good. But over time, their brushes may accumulate dirt, which isn’t good for your car’s paint. And their equipment may not be repaired or replaced often enough. Before doing the automatic car wash, check it out thoroughly.

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washing car with a bucket and a spongeCatherine Falls Commercial/getty images

Two-Bucket Wash

For best results, use an automatic car wash as a pre-wash. Then finish the job with a thorough hand wash at home.

For the latter, you’ll need a microfiber washing mitt, car shampoo, lots of microfiber wiping towels and two wash buckets with Grit Guards at the bottom. Grit Guards have holes that allow dirt and grime to settle at the bottom of the bucket. That keeps the mitt clean, which prevents swirl marks and scratches.

Fill one wash bucket with soapy water and another with plain water. Soak your wash mitt in soapy water and wipe the dirt from the car. Always clean the dirty mitt in the rinse bucket before loading up more suds. Dry with the microfiber towels.

This process takes time, so ask your children, grandchildren or neighborhood kids to help. Supervise them so they don’t scratch the paint. And pay them well.

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No Rinsevia merchant

Rinse-less Wash

This is a popular way to clean your car when you have limited space and no hose. Caveat: It won’t work if your car is caked in mud.

I like Optimum No Rinse. It won’t scratch your clear coat and requires less than a gallon of water.

Fill a bucket with water from your sink and use a Grit Guard. Add the rinse-less wash product to the water and clean with a microfiber mitt. Then use microfiber towels for wiping.

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Waterless Car Washvia merchant

Waterless Car Wash

Products like Chemical Guys Swift Wipe Waterless Car Wash make it simple to wash your car without a hose.

Park your vehicle in a shaded area and apply the product when the vehicle is cool to touch. Shake well, then spray directly onto the surface. Wait 10 seconds or so to let solution emulsify dirt and grime. Then wipe it up in one direction with a clean microfiber towel. Buff the area dry with another clean microfiber towel for a high gloss shine.

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 Small Pump Sprayervia merchant

Small Pump Sprayer

Use one sprayer with suds and a second with clean water to rinse small sections of your vehicle. You can also add a product like Optimum No Rinse to the first sprayer.

Just fill the sprayers in your sink and carry them outside. The second sprayer prevents suds from drying.

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Cleaning a car tire with high pressure waterAlicia Fdez/Getty Images

Cordless High-Pressure Washer

Use this small pressure washer on a low setting with a bucket of water or a water bottle. It comes with an extension rod and nozzles for cleaning hard-to-reach spots. It provides more power than a small pump sprayer, and the cordless feature lets you move easily around the car.

It’s light enough to control with one hand. You can also use it for cleaning floors, fences and swimming pools, as well as for watering plants and washing pets. Here’s how to pressure wash your car without damaging it.

Gary Legwold
Gary Legwold is a Minneapolis-based writer, an editor and an award-winning author of five books, including a novel. He is also the humble Lefse King, blogging about all things lefse and some things lutefisk and selling lefse-related products at www.lefseking.com.