No-H2O review: waterless wash put to the test

Waterless car wash is a concept that raises intrigue and suspicion. Parkers puts No-H20 to the test to see how and if it works.

NoH20 spray bottles lined up next to a car wheel

by Chris Williams |

The idea of waterless car wash seems a wonderfully contradictory concept. It's like having a pastry-less pie. Surely, you can't have a pie without pasty and you can't wash a car without water.

There are increasingly more car cleaning brands that dispute this, claiming that you can indeed clean your car without water. No-H2O is one of these brands and we have put its waterless wash and polish to the test, along with its wheel cleaner, tyre shine, glass cleaner, and interior cleaner.

There's no theatrics here, just a simple question: does the waterless wash work?

No-H2O Car Cleaning Kit

No-H2O Car Cleaning Kit
Amazon

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Waterless Wash & Polish, Wheel-Kleen, and Interior-Kleen - all 500ml.

No-H2O Car Wash In A Box

No-H2O Car Wash In A Box
Amazon

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Waterless Wash & Polish, Wheel-Kleen - both 500ml, plus four microfibre cloths.

What is No-H2O?

First and foremost, No-H2O is a car washing franchise, rather than a producer of car cleaning products like Turtle Wax or Autoglym. It's a new name in the car cleaning world, having opened its first waterless car wash in Dublin in 2007. But its car cleaning services have evolved since then, introducing an app in 2016 that allows you to book a car clean and No-H2O comes to you.

No-H2O does of course produce its own waterless car cleaning products, which it uses itself and is available for the general public to buy. The most important of which is its Waterless Wash & Polish.

Testing No-H2O

Our subject for this test was a little Renault Zoe. In addition to not having been subject to a clean within recollection, finished in black the Zoe showed up the residing dirt vividly. The No-H2O wash had its work cut out.

Renault Zoe before cleaning
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/Parkers

As you can see, the paint is dulled by a layer of dirt and so too are the wheels (though not quite to the same degree as the Jeep Wrangler in our 26JPN test). The wheels are fact where we began.

NoH2O's Wheel-Kleen is used in the same way as most wheel cleaners: spray it on the wheel, wait for a little while, then either scrub with a wheel brush or microfibre cloth before wiping.

Renault Zoe wheel before cleaning
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/Parkers

In classic fashion, the outer face of the Zoe's wheels were coated with a thin layer of dirt while hardened brake dust and grime lurked between the spokes and around the wheel nuts.

We sprayed the Wheel-Kleen all over the wheel and left it for 20 seconds, as per the instructions before scrubbing with a wheel brush and finally wiping with one of the supplied microfibre cloths.

Spraying NoH2O Wheel-Kleen onto a dirty wheel
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/Parkers

We were impressed at how the Wheel-Kleen dealt to the dirt on the outer wheel but even with scrubbing with a wheel brush, it was unable to dislodge all of the stubborn muck between the spokes and surrounding the wheel nuts.

We also applied the Tire Shine X-Treme and found it to be reasonably effective, though we have never really championed tyre shine unless you enter your car in concours events.

Renault Zoe wheel after using NoH2O Wheel-Kleen
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/Parkers

What we learnt about the Wheel-Kleen was that it's fast and easy and good for light muck, or moderate when used with a brush. But it's not so good for a deep clean - for that we suggest 26JPN Fallout or Pro-Kleen Dragon's Blood.

Moving on to the body panels and the Waterless Wash & Polish marked the main event. As per the instructions on the bottle, we sprayed the wash onto a single body panel at a time and then wiping the panel with a, quote, 'moist' microfibre cloth and then finished with a buff.

Applying NoH2O Waterless Wash & Polish to a Renault Zoe
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/Parkers

We've got to be honest, we weren't expecting a lot and like many of you, wondering about avoid scratching when wiping over the dirty panels with the microfibre cloth. The idea behind this is that the wash and the microfibre work in tandem, the former lifts the dirt and the latter absorbs it, thus avoiding scratching the paint.

And we were pleasantly surprised. The wash left the paint free from dirt and with a remarkably good gloss.

Renault Zoe after car clean
©Photo: Ryan Gilmore/Parkers

It was quick too. Cleaning the passenger side and front of the Zoe took us 10 minutes, including inspection and (disturbingly enjoyable) discussion as we went.

But what we also discovered is that while you don't use any water, you go through the No-H2O wash as if there's no tomorrow. We weren't applying more than was necessary and yet we still went through the entire 500ml bottle cleaning the Zoe.

That's an issue for a couple of reasons. It makes the No-H2O car cleaning experience a rather expensive one; it also calls into question the environmentally friendliness of it. Sure you save on water, but you also churn through plastic spray bottles.

And given that we went through the whole bottle, it means you can't thoroughly clean a car any larger than a Renault Zoe without running out of wash. No-H2O does sell five litre containers but even so, out of that volume you only get 10 washes, maximum. By comparison, a 2.5-litre Autoglym car shampoo bottle is about half the price of the No-H2O five litre and will last 10 times longer.

This would perhaps indicate that the No-H2O Waterless Wash & Polish acts best as a quick detailer for generally clean cars or on-site concours competition cars. After all, we were impressed with the shine it produced.

We think it's a good supplement for regular car shampoo. For a deep car clean, use the regular method, and if you're concerned about water use, just be frugal - turn the pressure of the hose down; only fill the bucket with as much water as you need rather than all the way to the top. You can cut your water use right down if you make an effort to.

No-H2O's other products

We also tried its glass cleaner and interior cleaner. Both proved effective. The interior cleaner has the benefit of being applicable to any interior surface from plastic to fabric to leather. As a light general cleaner, it's good. For serious stains we suggest Greased Lightning Stain Shifter, or where that fails, a carpet cleaner.

Verdict

No-H2O Triple Bundle

No-H2O Triple Bundle
Amazon

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Two bottles of Waterless Wash & Polish plus Wheel-Kleen. All 500ml.

No-H2O's wheel, glass, and interior cleaners work reasonably well, and so too does its tyre shine. However, the important product, the waterless wash, is a double-edged sword.

We have no qualms about its effectiveness and it is nice and fast, which is a real bonus for those who aren't keen on committing to a full weekend car clean. But given that our bottle lasted for only one clean of a small hatchback, it's not cheap and we were also left pondering the plastic use versus water use issue.

As we said, we decided it's best as an intermediary detailer for casual use but it's also effective enough to be used on competition concours cars too.

Read next:

How to properly wash your car

The best car vacuum cleaners

Parkers' paint protection guide for DIYers

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