Disclosure: I received free review samples from JML for the purpose of this review. I received no payment and was not required to submit a positive review. Links marked with (eBay⇒) or (Amazon⇒) are affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.
Update 23/01/2011: Now re-tested with some winter road dirt. See bottom of review for new pics.
I was recently sent a bottle of Mantis Instant Shine to test out. It’s one of the latest waterless car cleaning products to hit the UK market and importers JML are expecting it to be a big hit – apparently ASDA, Focus, Tesco and Wilkinsons have all agreed to stock it. You can also buy it directly from JML online and on Amazon (Amazon⇒).
The principle is simple – instead of washing your car, you spray this on and then wipe it off, leaving a lovely clean car. It’s £9.99 per bottle and you’ll need some microfibre clothes, too.
So does it work?
How Do Waterless Car Cleaners Work?
Waterless car cleaning products (also known as chemical car washes) are said to have originated in Australia, where water shortages mean that using large amounts of water to clean cars is a serious no-no. JML, the importers of Mantis Instant Shine, say that their product was developed by the American aerospace industry to keep fighter jets clean in desert areas like the Middle East.
The idea seems to be that the chemicals in the spray soak into the surface dirt on your car’s paintwork, breaking it up and lifting it off the surface of the paint – so it can easily be wiped off without scratching paintwork or leaving smears.
Mantis Instant Shine claims to incorporate ‘Silicone Enhancers’ and a ‘Gloss Booster’ that help to leave your paintwork smooth and shiny without additional polishing.
Cleaning A Car With Mantis Instant Shine
These products all seem to work in a similar way and are very easy to use. The instructions on my bottle of Mantis Instant Shine seemed pretty simple to follow:
- Spray a light covering of Instant Shine onto your car, one panel at a time
- Leave for a few seconds to soak in and break up the dirt
- Gently wipe off using a microfibre cloth
- Allow the panel to dry and then buff to a shine with a clean microfibre cloth
Does It Work?
In short, yes.
I’d kindly been sent a pack of microfibre towels along with my bottle of spray, so I used one for washing and one for buffing.
After spraying on the Instant Shine, the dirt just wiped off, leaving clean paintwork behind. It didn’t scratch my paintwork, as far as I could see. Squashed flies came off quite easily, too, with a little extra rubbing. It’s important to turn the cloth regularly to even out usage and slow down the buildup of dirt on the cloth.
Once I buffed each panel up, the results were good – the paintwork was smooth and shiny, just as it would be if I had used my normal car washing method of Autoglym Shampoo, rinse and buff dry.
Mantis Instant Shine is meant to be suitable for plastic and glass, too, so I included these areas of my vehicle as well. It seemed to work very well on plastic, lifting off squashed flies and other dirt and giving a good finish.
I was less impressed with the results on the windows and mirrors – although the dirt came off easily, I found it hard to get rid of all the smears and get a clean, shiny finish. In the end, I resorted to using glass cleaner as well (I’m a bit fussy when it comes to clean windows and mirrors…).
The other thing I noticed was that although my vehicle wasn’t particularly dirty, the clothes were filthy by the time I finished and I was struggling not to leave smears of dirt as I finished cleaning the last section of the car. Neither cloth could be used again without a visit to the washing machine (the wash cloth is the one on the right):
Summary – Pros & Cons
Overall, I was impressed with Mantis Instant Shine. It does what it claims to do, it’s easy to use and it seemed quicker than washing and rinsing with buckets of water. On top of that, the only water required was to wash my hands and the clothes after I’d finished – a lot less water than would be used for a normal car wash.
You really don’t need any water.
It’s very easy to use and most dirt just wipes off. Flies come off easily, too.
It’s highly portable – you can use it when water isn’t available or isn’t appropriate (e.g. on holiday or in a car park)
It gives a good finish without much effort
It’s fairly expensive compared to even a good quality car shampoo. Bottles of Instant Shine retail at £9.99 – for a large car, you’ll probably only get three or four washes out of this. Small cars will do better.
Results were not so good on glass. Automotive glass cleaner (e.g. Autoglym Fast Glass) is much better for windows, especially the windscreen.
You need plenty of large, clean microfibre clothes. Two is a minimum and you may need more if your car is dirty. These will need to be properly laundered after use.
Update 23/01/2011: I originally wrote this review in September, when the weather was relatively good. I’ve now given it another test in January to see how Mantis Instant Shine copes with real winter road dirt.
Here is my new before and after photo. Only one application of Instant Shine was required to get it clean, but your clothes do get dirty pretty fast when there is this much dirt – once a cloth gets too dirty, you will need clean ones to avoid smearing/scratching the paintwork: