How To Clean Car Engine Without Water

As a car technician, there are a lot of customers who do not want to use water to clean their engines. One good reason is that they are afraid that water might get into the engine components and could damage it. 

Additionally, they would also want their environment clean and healthy and are afraid that the runoff residue from cleaning the engine would be harmful to the environment.

In my experience, many of my regular customers would never look under the hood and see if they have a properly functioning engine or if it needs regular cleaning. I tend to educate them about checking what's under the hood and just inspect what's going on inside. I let them describe different things like the smell or the condition of the components under the hood if they do not know the names of certain parts. This time, I always let them know that a clean engine would mean that their cars can run smoothly as dirt and the normal wear and tear can slowly deteriorate your car's engine.

The Way to Clean Car Engine Without Water

In cleaning the car engine without using water, there are certain items that I need to gather first before I wash them. These items are as follows:

  • Microfiber cloths
  • Brush
  • Plastic bags
  • Engine degreaser

Let The Car Engine Cool Down

Before starting anything, I always let the engine cool down a bit. It would be pretty difficult to work on the surface of the engine if it is too hot to touch. The last thing that I want is to have blisters all over my hand. Make sure to give it an hour or so to cool down before you start with the cleaning process.

Another reason why I would not want to work on a hot engine is that it dries out the moisture immediately; hence it leaves no time or room to work its magic.

Remove Unwanted Residue

While waiting for the engine to cool down, I usually check what's under the hood and see if there are any debris or residue. This way, I get to know which ones I need to remove first by the time it is safe for me to work. Leaves, dirt, and many other residues tend to reside in the crevices inside the engine, so always make sure to remove them first.

I use the brush to manually remove the thick layer of dust from the car engine and bay area first before really getting into it.

Protect Important Areas

Although I am not using any water for this procedure, it is still important to protect the important areas of the engine like the electrical components where it should be free from any form of moisture. Use the plastic bag and cover all the delicate areas and ensure that they are protected.

Spray Away

Now that everything's protected, I begin prepping the engine degreaser and start spraying away. I start with the surface and slowly make my way into the different areas of the engine. Allow the degreaser to set in for at least a minute so that the formula can slowly loosen up the dirt and other residues. Grab the brush and start brushing gently to remove the residue.

In choosing the best degreaser, it all boils down to preference. Some would like to use a cleaner or degreaser with softer ingredients, but I would rather suggest that if your engine has more grease and oil that you want to remove, then go for the heavy-duty ones instead.

Extra Protection

After scrubbing, dry the surface using the microfiber cloths. These microfiber cloths are good at eliminating moisture in the surface. I always check the hoses and different sections to make sure that there are no degreasing agents left. I also use compressed air to remove the excess moisture out of the surface or in the areas that are hard to reach.

Once done, I use my all-time favorite protectant and lather up the engine using the microfiber cloths to make sure that it is well protected. Some of my customers prefer to have an engine dressing, which creates an amazing shine and makes it look like a new car. This also creates a protective layer against dirt and dust, which makes the next round of engine cleaning a lot easier.

I then start the engine and run it for a couple of minutes to heat it and remove even more moisture to completely dry out all the parts.


I've always been a big supporter of a clean car engine. A clean engine means a smoother and safer drive. The more people who get motivated in cleaning their car engine without water, the more it is good for their car and their safety.

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