Product Review: Mantis Instant Shine Waterless Car Cleaner

Mantis Instant Shine

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:

  1. Spray a light covering of Instant Shine onto your car, one panel at a time
  2. Leave for a few seconds to soak in and break up the dirt
  3. Gently wipe off using a microfibre cloth
  4. 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.

Van bodywork before and after cleaning with Mantis Instant Shine
The dirt does not show up very well in the first photo, but believe me, the paint was dirty in the first photo. Cleaning with Mantis Instant Shine got it all off and left a pleasing shine. See the bottom of this review for new photos from a second test with winter road dirt!

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):

Dirty microfibre clothes after washing car with Mantis Instant Shine

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:

Car bodywork before and after cleaning with Mantis Instant Shine
Before and after cleaning with Mantis Instant Shine – even winter road dirt can be cleaned off with Mantis Instant Shine, although you may need some extra clothes for larger cars, as they become too dirty quite quickly.

18 thoughts on “Product Review: Mantis Instant Shine Waterless Car Cleaner

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  • September 30, 2010 at 5:23 pm

    I used this on my dirty car, it is fantastic, the best my car has looked, the shine is indeed a showroom shine, thank you

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  • May 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm

    Mantis Instant Shine is great for an in-between clean of the car …also great on cleaning venetian blinds and a 101 other things. Wish I could buy it in bulk as the only downside is the cost.

    • May 16, 2011 at 8:59 am

      Hi Mark,

      Thanks for the tips re. blinds! I’m still using up my review bottle and liking it. I usually use Mantis when I am feeling lazy and don’t want the mess and hassle of multiple buckets of water (I have on street parking and can’t use a hosepipe). Instant Shine does give a really good finish on paintwork – I washed my van yesterday with water and the water was still beading off the paintwork after the last time I cleaned it, which was with Instant Shine.

      The only thing I don’t use Instant Shine on is glass, as it always smears for me.


  • June 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm

    the word is cloths …..clothes are what you wear !
    Very helpful article though… thank you.

  • July 2, 2011 at 11:11 am

    Good review that really makes me want to give it a go. Couple of (admittedly dumb) questions though, is it designed to work fine with metallic paint? And as my car was given an Autoglym Life Shine treatment before I got it, is there any danger the silicon in Instant Shine could have an adverse effect?


    • July 5, 2011 at 9:19 am

      Hi Chris,

      Regarding metallic paint, I’m sure it will work fine. I am not sure about the Autoglym LifeShine, as I do not know what recommendations (if any) Autoglym make for ongoing care. You could try contacting Autoglym – there’s a contact telephone number on the LifeShine website (

      As a side note, having tested both Mantis Instant Shine and another waterless cleaner called Onedrywash (see my review), I think that Onedrywash is the better of the two by a small margin.

      Hope this helps, Roland

  • September 4, 2011 at 5:04 pm

    just used mantis car wash,i have to say it does give your car an amazing shine,but was a little disappointed with its cleaning quality,but overall very impressed.

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  • May 29, 2012 at 11:40 pm

    Just got a bottle of this ‘Mantis’ gear, not had a chance to try it yet but hoping for some pretty remarkable results given the price of it !.

    Bit confused though, is it a car shampoo or a car polish?. My cars are not usually very dirty as I wash them almost every other day. I bought this to try as an alternative to using polish ( after-all, it is called “Mantis Shine” not Mantis Car Shampoo ).

    Could say, I’m more than a little fed up with getting white marks all along the edges of my Black plastic trims & body side mouldings each time I use regular polish, as I find it impossible to remove said marks !, is it me?, or does anyone else have trouble with this?, will Mantis Shine be the answer to my prayers?

    Also, can anyone actually read the labels on this product ?, ok, so I’m an an old guy with less than perfect eyesight but, come on !

    • May 30, 2012 at 5:42 am


      It’s a car wash product – a replacement for a shampoo. It does give a good shine but you use it to clean the car from scratch, within reason. You can also use it as a detailing spray for a quick shine up, I suppose.

      I use these waterless wash products quite regularly now and am a convert, especially when only a light clean is needed. Very quick and easy and no white marks on black plastic, they can be used on all surfaces – paint, plastic and glass.

      Hope this helps,


      • June 4, 2012 at 10:23 am

        Hi Roland, thank’s for the advice, I’v gave my V70 a clean with the ‘Mantis’ gear at the weekend and I have to say, it’s pretty good stuff !.

        I got a really good deep shine and found it very easy to use, just wipe on and wipe off, with no annoying white marks left on the black trims etc. ( happy days ) !.

        Not sure yet how long the shine will last but suspect it will probably wash off first time it rains, if so, at least I’v plenty left to do it again.

        I reckon this stuff would be best on cars that are kept polished up with a good quality wax or resin based polish, as a quick wipe down between washes.

        Good stuff, doe’s what it say’s on the tin ( or plastic spray bottle, lol ).

  • June 10, 2012 at 11:42 pm

    This does look interesting, I’m a little dubious about not washing the dirt off with water, does it scratch the paint work rubbing the dirt around?

    • June 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

      @Rob Aldred

      Instinctively you would think it would scratch the paintwork, but this doesn’t seem to happen. I’ve been using Mantis and other waterless wash products occasionally for a couple of years now and not had any problems. The secret is clean cloths – you need enough to do your vehicle and they need washing properly afterwards. For a large, dirty car, you may need more than one ‘wipe’ cloth, even if you can manage with one ‘buffing’ cloth.

      Roland (

      • June 11, 2012 at 9:34 am

        Cool, I got myself a large pack of these microfibre cloths from costco, really good value, definitely going to give mantis a try, thanks for the thorough informative review.

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  • May 4, 2013 at 2:12 pm

    Try sainsburys for mantis I got it for £4.99 to-day a bargin as I use it all the time


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