Waterless Wash Vs Quick Detailer (Differences and Benefits)

Image Credit: The Rag Company

Image Credit: The Rag Company

Waterless Wash Vs Quick Detailer (Differences and Benefits)


Most DIY detailers out there are looking for an easy, low-cost, low-effort way to make their car shinier and cleaner. We have some good news for you — there are two products that can help you achieve this goal. They are called waterless washers and quick detailers.

In this guide, we’ll explain what each of these products is, what they do, and how they work. We’ll also explain the differences between the two before diving into what makes each option so great.

Waterless Wash Vs Quick Detailer

The main difference is that a waterless car wash is primarily for cleaning and quick detailing is for touching up and adding shine.

Waterless car wash product is primarily meant to remove dirt particles safely without the need for traditional car washing methods.

A quick detailing spray is meant to remove light dust and leave a streak free finish while improving the gloss and add some light protection to your paintwork.

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What Is a Waterless Wash?

A waterless wash is a line of products that don’t require you to use a hose and bucket to clean your car. This product comes in a can which you spray directly on your car. From there, you wipe down the area with a separate towel and finish the cleaning.

You’ll need to carefully pick your towel, though. Since a big part of waterless washing your car revolves around wiping off the solvent, it’s important to pick a towel that works well without damaging your vehicle.

This acts as a full wash. Looking at before and after images will tell you the whole story — a waterless wash will remove light levels of grime, dirt, and pollen. Yes, it is only viable for light-duty washes. If you just went mudding in your Jeep, this product won’t help that much.

What Is a Quick Detailer?

A quick detailer is used after you go through a full detail. It leaves a layer of either wax or polymers that go on top of the other products you used on your car.

You’ll need to check your quick detailer for compatibility with whatever detailing product you used such as a claylube, sealant, or wax.

The purpose of this product is to provide the “final touch” to your detail. It can help dry your vehicle, reduce water spots, light dust, and remove streaks.


Difference Between a Waterless Wash and Quick Detailer

At this point, you can probably guess a few of the major differences between these two products. To be clear, here are the major differences between a waterless wash and a quick detailer.

Level of Cleaning Power

First and foremost, you’ll get a better clean with a waterless wash. This is by design. A waterless washing solution can be used on your daily driver bi-weekly to keep it clean. However, a quick detailing product shouldn’t be used to clean your car. Its purpose is just to seal in your detail and give you a better level of shine after.

A quick detailer can be used to clean up light dust, water, bird droppings, or fingerprints, but that’s the extent of it. If you have a dirty car, you’ll need a waterless wash.

Resulting Shininess

As we mentioned, the final shine you get is dramatically different between these two products. A waterless wash will give your dirty car a “clean” look, but a quick detailer has gloss enhancers that will give you a “waxed and buffed” look.

If you plan on showing this car or parking it at a meet, the better option is the quick detailer.

When to use a Waterless Wash vs Detail Spray

Another design difference is when the product is supposed to be used. The quick detailer gets used after you’ve fully washed your car. The waterless washer will be used when you notice your car’s a little dirty and you want to take care of it.

What Can Waterless Car Wash and Quick Detailing Spray Be Used

The cool thing about a quick detailer is that it can be used on trim pieces and interior surfaces of your car. On your dashboard, it will work like a duster as well as a shining product.

Waterless washes can only be used on the exterior surfaces of your car. They are specifically designed to go on your car’s body, but there’s no trouble if you use it on trim pieces of glass surfaces (you just won’t get as good of a clean as you would with trim and glass cleaners, respectively).


Benefits of Waterless Wash Products

Let’s start by diving into waterless washing agents a little deeper. Below are the major benefits of products within this family.

No Wasted Water

As you probably know by now, waterless washes don’t use any water. For people looking to keep their water bill down, this is great news. It’s also good for people who don’t have an area to safely dump water used in cleaning a car.

Whether you live in an apartment, in the city, or near sewer drains, dumping a bucketful of water is a big undertaking. With a waterless wash, you don’t have to worry about this anymore.

Easy to Use Wherever You Are

We should also mention how accessible it is to use this product. It can be used anywhere, as long as you have enough space to walk around your car and a pile of towels handy.

This product allows you to wash your car during breaks at work, while you’re waiting for a friend to get ready, or as your significant other is shopping.

It also allows you to wash your car in areas where access to water isn’t an option. This goes back to people who live in the city or an apartment. If you don’t have a garden hose outside, you don’t have to worry. No more filling a bucket up with water in your kitchen sink and balancing it as you make your way outside.

Actually Cleans Your Car

The best part of this product is that it actually cleans your car. It’s a low-effort, low-resource way to get rid of light dirt and dust across your vehicle. It won’t work as well as an old-fashioned carwash, but it’s more convenient and boasts similar results.

Saves Money on Car Washes

If you live in an apartment, you might resort to getting your car washed at your local carwasher. This could be tens or hundreds of dollars a month, depending on how often you go.

If you pick up a can of waterless washer instead, you will save all that money. More importantly, you don’t have to consult your budget when your car gets dirty. A single can of waterless washer will last multiple uses.

Adds a Good Level of Shine

Even though this product isn’t built to be a waxer, it provides a surprisingly good level of shine. It won’t look like you waxed your car, but it will look like you went through a thorough carwash.

Removes Water Spots and Stains

Since there are built-in polymers, the surface tension of the water on your car is more favorable. What does that mean? Fewer water spots and stains after washing your car. This product will dry a lot faster than a conventional carwash, and drying is when water spots start to form.

Acts as a Wash and Wax at Once

The polymers will also act as a mini waxing agent. Again, it won’t give the same look as an actual wax, but it will definitely boost the shininess of your car.

Some waterless washing products have more polymers in the formula which will give you an even shinier finish.

More Environmentally Friendly

Since you’re not wasting water, you’re helping the environment. Dumping soapy car water can do some real damage to the ecosystem around you. By using this product instead, you don’t have to worry about that issue.

Great for Use in Winter

Our favorite time to use a waterless washer is in winter. After driving on salted roads, your car will look dirty much quicker. Take a little bit of time for a waterless wash and your car will look clean again.

A lot of homeowners will actually turn off the water supply to their hoses in winter so things don’t freeze. During this time, you can opt for a waterless wash to preserve your hoses.


Benefits of Using a Quick Detailer

Next, let’s discuss some of the reasons why people love using quick detailers. These are benefits from detailing experts in the industry.

Adds a Better Level of Shine

A quick detail spray contains gloss enhancers unlike waterless car wash products. Waterless washes are great to remove dirt from your vehicle surface due to their more powerful cleaning agents, but won’t produce the shine of a quick detailing spray.

Easier Than Using Wax or Ceramics

If you want to apply a professional wax to your car, you’ll be met with a lot of challenges. One of those challenges is the learning curve associated with using a wax or ceramic.

Without any experience, you could apply the wax incorrectly and just waste your time.

Also, there is a series of different equipment and products you need to apply wax to your car. Instead, you can just grab a single can of quick detailer and get a similar result.

This product makes waxing much easier.

Works for Interior Detailing as Well

Quick detailers can be used inside your car as well. You can add a nice polish to any plastics and metals inside your vehicle to impress your passengers. This spray can be used almost universally across your car.

Doesn’t Use Harsh Chemicals

The reason why quick detailers are so universal is because they don’t have any harsh chemicals. Certain cleaners like Windex become very dangerous when they’re used outside of their intended use.

Surfaces on your car are surprisingly fragile. Something like your car’s topcoat of paint can be melted, dissolved, and scratched with very little effort — this becomes increasingly true as you opt for harsher chemicals.

Since quick detailers use simple chemicals, you can apply it more freely to your vehicle.

Better Option for Removing Streaks and Water Spots

A waterless wash is good for removing water spots and streaks, but it pales in comparison to a quick detailer. Since the purpose of this product is to add a great finish, you can expect water spots to disappear after correctly applying this agent.

Great to Use Before Showing a Vehicle

If you have an upcoming show, you should grab your quick detailer. Give your car a quick wash then spray on this detailer to get a showroom-ready car in a fraction of the cost, price, and effort of traditional waxes.

A lot of people will use a quick detailer on a car that might be sitting in a garage between showings. If the vehicle is covered or only has dust on the surface, you can use this detailer to make the vehicle pop before the potential buyer comes by.

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Pro Tip: Use Both Products Back-to-Back

Since these two products serve two different functions, it makes sense to use them back-to-back. We suggest using a waterless washer to clean your car, then a quick detailer to get the best results. In the end, you’ll get a polished car without spending the time, effort, and money for a traditional wash and wax.


These two products help car owners across the globe get a cleaner and shinier car with very little effort. Personally, we swear by waterless washers and quick detailers, and we know you’ll like them, too. If you want to read more car detailing guides, explore our website

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