Car cleaning options review and compare

How can you save water while washing your car? CHOICE investigates.
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06.Low flow high pressure cleaners

One option for manually cleaning your car is a low flow high pressure car cleaner. These all use a pressurised spray, but not so high as to damage the paint on your car. We tested three low flow high pressure car cleaners to see how they performed and whether they were easy to use. All three have been accredited by the Smart Approved Watermark and we found we didn’t need to use more than 26L per wash – little more than a bucket and sponge option. With a little practice, it would be possible to lower even this amount.

All low flow high pressure car cleaners can be used in multiple locations, such as cleaning at a camping site, and also on your bike or boat; however, we found none of them claim, or are able to clean a car directly, still requiring a sponge and detergent to clean effectively.

What we found

Both the Car Cube and Watersaver use a car battery to pressurise and were more effective at initially wetting the car than the Autowasher which is manually pressurised, however the Autowasher's effectiveness may possibly be improved by removing its filter. The Car Cube and Autowasher came integrated with a water container so it didn’t require an extra bucket like the Watersaver.

Low flow high pressure cleaners 

L to R Autowasher, Car Cube and Watersaver 


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Full results for all models are shown in the table below.

Brand/model (in rank order) Overall score (%) Performance score (%) Ease of use score (%) Method of operation Storage facility Dimensions (WxLxH) (cm) Hose/Power lead length (m) Weight Empty/Full (kg) Price ($)
Car Cube CC1 (1)
65 60 77 Car battery Yes 29 x 43 x 35 6.1 / 5.1 6 / 19.5 160
Watersaver Multipurpose Liquid Pump
55 50 67 Car battery Yes 16 x 47 x 26 6.9 / 3.1 2.5 / NA(2) 90
Autowasher AM 12
39 40 37 Manual No 22 x 22 x 60 2.5 / NA 2.1 / 13.4 80

Table notes

Scores The overall score is made up of:

  • Ease of use: 30%
  • Performance: 70%

(1) Discontinued August 2008, new model released September 2008 (CC2) with stronger pressure.

(2) Requires an extra container to draw water from.

How we tested

  • Initial rinse effectiveness Our tester rinsed each car to begin with to see how much dirt was removed and scored accordingly.
  • Final rinse effectiveness After sponging each car with detergent, the product was used again to rinse car of detergent and its effectiveness was scored.
  • Convenience/Adjustments Each product was assessed on how easy it was to move around and spray adjustment was to use.
  • Aiming This assessed how easy the head of the product was to move around awkward areas such as wheel housing.
  • Transportation/Storage Assessing portability of the product when stored for travel and if it had compartments for storing different hose attachments that were included.
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