How To Wash Your Car Without A Hose

Washing your car might seem like a great idea until you are fighting water restrictions

How can you possibly clean your car without a hose? 

Soaping it is easy. You most likely have a microfiber towel, some suds in a bucket, and maybe a chamois.

It’s rinsing the car that is a problem.

In this guide, we’ve put together a step-by-step plan for washing your car without a hose.

Ready to wash your car anywhere? Let’s take a look!

Rinseless car washes are best applied when you work in sections and with the car in the shade.

What is a Rinseless Car Wash?

The rinseless car wash is super-popular with detailers.

The rinseless soaps are very accessible to the DIY car enthusiast. There is no need to visit the car wash.

These are concentrated soaps. You use 1 gallon of water and dilute some soap into it.

The polymers in these solutions protect your car from scratching the clear coat.

A rinseless car wash allows you to clean up your car when you don’t have close access to power wash tools or a hose with clean water.

Honestly, it doesn’t work as good as a good sudsing and rinse off. But it is better than nothing.

And if your car is mostly clean or if you can prewash it, a rinseless wash lets you add that detailing to get a perfect shine.

While you can’t get into all of the nooks and crannies with a microfiber towel (like you can with spraying water), it does let you come back over and get those corners that a regular car wash would have missed.

If you decide to use a rinseless car wash solution on your own car, prepare with a wash mitt, appropriate cleaning solutions, glass cleaner, and towels. 

See Related: Over The Engine Creeper Makes It Easier To Clean Engine Hoods

How Rinseless Car Washes Work: Lubrication Lifts Dirt

Whether you are washing with soapy water at home or taking your car through the car wash, one thing you should know is that lubrication lifts dirt, and it might make your cleaning process significantly easier for your dirty car. 

A waterless car wash might lead to a clean car, but it really doesn’t lift the dirt as it should. You aren’t going to be able to remove clumps of dirt or transform an extremely grimy car with just waterless soap.

These soaps contain what are known as humectants. Humectants retain moisture while working to lift dirt from the car and protect your car’s paint simultaneously.

Use A Frothing Aerator Pump

I’m loving the new frothing pumps.

They provide great coverage.

Just add your soap and water and pump it up. Generally you will need 1-2 ounces of soap with water then added to the “full” line.

It coats the area you are working in with a sudsy solution.

When doing a waterless wash, work in small sections. Apply the solution, clean that small area and then move forward.

The best part is that it helps to conserve soap, letting you get more out of each bottle.

Hand Pump For Rinsing

If you don’t have a hose, but you still need to rinse your car, you can consider a pump sprayer.

While these are generally used for spraying pesticides, they can work for soaping or rinsing.

This is going to be a much slower process than rinsing with a hose.

But it can get you through in a pinch. You can also use it to presoak an area before washing. These are especially great for soaking tires.

How To Wash Your Car Without A Hose

Now that you know the details of what a car wash without a hose really is – a rinseless car wash. Let’s take a step-by-step look at this process should work when you put it to action. 

  1. Start by preparing your solution. You will most likely need to mix up your solution in a spray bottle or an aerator bottle, depending on your chosen solution. Remember that we recommend using a frothing aerator for the best results. 
  2. Gather your supplies, like a microfiber cloth or a mitt with the same soft fibers. These are gentle for your paint and will help remove dirt in the process. 
  3. Presoak the rims and any tough areas (such as a bug-filled grill). You can use specific cleaners for these areas, so long as they don’t require a lot of rinsing.
  4. Use your sprayer and work on your vehicle in sections. Spray and then immediately wipe. For example, you could do one-quarter of the driver’s side, then the back, then one half of the passenger side, and so on until you have completely worked your way around the car. Your sections can be fairly large, allowing you to spray a significant area and move quickly as you go. 
  5. You need a fine layer of soap. Don’t forget you are not using water here, so there will be no dripping in the process. Spray from about 1-2 feet away from the paint of your car. Use a back and forth motion to cover the intended area. 
  6. Use your microfiber towel and glide across the surface of the vehicle. Grime and dirt will lift away and wipe off as you go. Your towel will be soiled with dirt as you go, so flip it to clean spaces and change out to clean towels as necessary. You can also turn your towel in a rotating motion as you wipe to keep it fresh as you move. 
  7. You will still have some residue remaining from your cleaning solution. Once you have completed your initial wipe down, grab a clean towel and go back over it to touch up and also get any areas you might have missed as well on the initial wipe down. 
  8. Repeat this process over the entire body of the car. 
  9. You can finish up with a hydrating or shine additive that you buff in. Be sure you use an option that is suitable for working without water. 

The upside to these solutions is you get to control the amount of frothing solution you need to apply. For some of those tougher jobs, you might need to apply a bit more to get the dirt and grime off. You might also need to take a couple of swipes with your towel. 

It all really a finite matter of using the right solution for the job. Overall, these solutions are typically best when you want a quick clean that looks nice and you don’t have heavy dirt and mud stuck to your vehicle. 

Keep in mind that this will not replace a full car wash or detailing that cleans your gar’s undercarriage and gets the grime out of places besides just your immediately noticeable paint that has some dirt and dust on it. 


Waterless car wash is way less messy.

But it is not nearly as effective.

While they might not tackle the hardest jobs, they can get you a clean car without a hose and certainly work well without wasting water. 

You are going to use a lot more microfiber towels with this method. But you don’t need a hose!

Your car can be shiny and clean with this simple method.


Zachary Drumm

Hey! My name is Zachary Drumm! This site allows me to test new tools, piddle around in the garage, and share the insights I get from flipping cars and houses. When it comes to tools, home improvement, and being a “shade tree mechanic,” you’ve come to the right spot. If I’m not in the garage creating content, you’ll find me outside, running, canoeing, and traveling. My goal is to empower more people to be self-sufficient.