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Dried and True

Car wash system is a breakthrough in detailing

It's hard to beat the satisfaction of a freshly cleaned car. That is, unless you factor in the labor typically required to achieve a showroom-looking shine in your driveway. It's no wonder that professional car washes are as common as high-end coffee houses in most cities — and in some urban areas, such as Los Angeles, they are one and the same.

Ironically, the act of washing your car is a fairly rewarding activity, providing the same satisfactory feeling as finishing off that last strip of un-mowed grass or picking weeds from a flowerbed. Time-consuming drudgery sets in, however, when it comes to the follow-up details of cleaning your car, such as drying it off to prevent water spots. Apart from your neighbors and their shiny, red convertibles, who has the gumption to spend that much time with a chamois.

Recently, we found a product that provides all the rewards of fine detailing without the chore of dragging a towel over every square inch of sheet metal and glass. It's the Mr. Clean AutoDry™ Carwash system and it does for car washing what the Internet did for buying airline tickets.

In a nutshell, Mr. Clean AutoDry Carwash is a hand-held washing system that eliminates the drying stage from the cleaning process. It also leaves the sudsy wash bucket where it belongs — collecting water from that leaking pipe under your kitchen sink. Here's the gist of the Mr. Clean AutoDry™ system:

  • A handheld sprayer attaches to a garden hose; a large knob controls the rinse water, special "dry rinse" polymer wash soap and a de-ionizing rinse filter. You still need a sponge or washing cloth.

  • After thoroughly rinsing the vehicle, you turn the sprayer's control knob to the soap setting to wash the car with the special polymer soap. You wash the car as normal with the sponge or cloth, making sure to clean every inch. The Mr. Clean AutoDry polymer soap not only carries away dirt, but allows water to fall off in sheets.

  • After rinsing off the suds, the control knob is switched to the filter rinse position and you rinse the car again with a fine mist of de-ionized water. For those of you without a chemical engineering degree, suffice it to say that de-ionized water has none of the minerals, salts or other impurities that cause spotting — water spots are actually the mineral remnants of water drops that have evaporated. Without minerals or other impurities, there's nothing left in the water to cause spotting.

  • The de-ionized water cascades over the vehicle like millions of tiny water ball bearings and because it will not cause spotting, you can wash and rinse a vehicle in bright sunlight.

The Mr. Clean AutoDry™ Carwash system uses a unique filter system from the makers of PUR. The compact filter cartridge requires replacement after a while (depending on the hardness of your water), but believe us, it is a gigantic leap in technology. Although the capability to rinse a vehicle with filtered water has existed for years, previous methods required enormous (and expensive) tanks filled with various chemicals. Only a few, upscale auto detail specialists made the investment in de-ionizing water. The Mr. Clean system literally puts it in the palm of your hand.

Perhaps the most satisfying results of Mr. Clean AutoDry™ Carwash come from incalculable details, like the perfect, spot-free rearview mirrors that previously never seemed to dry completely, or the completely spot-free windshield and rear window glass — no more spotted sections in the middle where you couldn't quite reach. And for those with tall SUVs, it's a godsend.

Resisting the urge to towel off your car after washing it in direct sunlight certainly flies in the face of generations' worth of car-washing instruction from your dad or grandfather, but you'll get used to it after the first wash. In fact, you'll revel in it.

A couple caveats, though:

  • Make sure the pre-rinse and wash cover EVERY inch of your vehicle — it will be so clean after the de-ionized water rinse that any corner that didn't get swiped with the polymer soap will stand out like white shoes after Labor Day.

  • Using Mr. Clean AutoDry™ Carwash won't necessarily reduce the time it takes to wash your vehicle — you just won't spend extra time or energy drying it.

  • The dry rinse soap's temporary coating does not affect wax or clear coat, but it does wear off after a few rains. You'll know this has happened when water stops sheeting and starts beading again.

Mr. Clean AutoDry Carwash™ is available at most food, drug, discount, auto and club stores, although some are already stocking the product. You also can go to Mr. Clean for more information.

It's an easy-to-use system that delivers on its promise — and your car will give that red convertible next door a run for its money in the shine department.

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