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Can Your Car Get Clean Without Getting Wet?

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Americans spend about $30 billion at car washes every year, a staggering expense.

The 75,000 car washes in the nation are patronized by a full 50% of car owners, according to Mark Thorsby of the International Car Wash Assn. The other 50% do their own scrubbing--using as much as 20 billion gallons of water annually.

Isn’t there an easier way that would save time, money, labor and water--especially in parched Southern California?

Dry-Wash ‘n Guard is being promoted as a waterless washing system that saves work, benefits the environment and protects your car’s paint.

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A small amount is sprayed on the paint and then wiped off with a dry rag--a process that strikes me as a sure fire way to ruin a paint job by scratching it. But the company that makes Dry-Wash ‘n Guard--Enviro-Tech International of Las Vegas--claims its secret formula lifts dirt, encapsulates it in a polymer, and then uses it as a polishing compound.

Dry-Wash ‘n Guard contains 47 ingredients including wetting agents, lubricants and protectants, but no wax, Teflon or silicone, says Enviro-Tech President Jonathan Goldsmith. Goldsmith claims the product is widely used by owners of collectible cars and has won numerous awards from car show organizations.

I’m generally skeptical about these kinds of claims but I also think many waxes and polishes available in stores require way too much time and effort to use.

I tried the product and asked a couple of co-workers to try it, as well. We came to sharply different conclusions.

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I thought Dry-Wash was easy to use, that it cleaned a lot of deeply embedded dirt and gave the paint a good layer of protection (judging by how water beaded afterward on the paint). I was able to clean the hood, top and trunk of my car in about 10 minutes.

But my co-workers said it did a poor job. One said it smeared bird droppings and fingerprints all over the fender of his Taurus and then sealed them in.

Dry-Wash isn’t cheap, but it probably is a lot cheaper than taking your car to a professional car wash. A 32-ounce bottle costs $36.95 but is supposed to last for nearly a year. It can be purchased through distributors or by calling (800) 820-6893.

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Ralph Vartabedian cannot answer mail personally but will attempt to respond in this column to automotive questions of general interest. Do not telephone. Write to Your Wheels, 1875 I St. N.W. #1100, Washington, D.C. 20006, or e-mail to Ralph.Vartabedian@latimes.com


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