How to Clean a Car Engine without Water | 9 DIY Steps

How to Clean a Car Engine without Water

Having a car comes with the burdening responsibility of keeping it spick-and-span. But when opportunity fails you, you must make do with what is available. One such case is when your car requires a thorough scrub, but water resigns from its position. In some cases, not using water is beneficial as many people believe it hampers the functionality of car engines. Therefore, we elaborate on how to clean a car engine without water with utmost care.

Now I am going to discuss the following steps:

  • Understand what dirt to clean and what to leave: 
  • Identify the parts that need to be cleaned: 
  • Prepping the engine for cleaning:
  • Create a cleaning solution:
  • Clean the engine components:
  • Remove the residue:
  • Dry the engine:
  • Protect the engine from future corrosion:
  • Reassemble the engine:

How to Clean a Car Engine without Water

Understand what dirt to clean and what to leave: 

Understand what dirt to clean and what to leave

The primary parameter is determining whether your car can be washed without water. A vehicle with layers upon layers of caked-up mud and dirt stuck in the engine, when washed with an atypical detergent or dry towels, can lead to scratches and damage in addition to time waste which is why it is equally crucial to pinpoint what goes and what stays.

Dust and grime accumulated due to daily wear and tear can be wiped off without water. But scrubbing vigorously can unintentionally lead to loss of integrity of various engine parts if you target the stains that are not willing to come off with only an undiluted detergent and a towel. 

Identify the parts that need to be cleaned: 

Identify the parts that need to be cleaned

You can clean all car parts, provided you start and end correctly. However, some spare parts require foremost attention, like the engine bay, which is susceptible to more grind.

Prepping the engine for cleaning:

Prepping the engine for cleaning

Give the engine time to cool off before starting on your cleaning spree. Unplug the engine terminals. Then gently cover all the components that are prone to damage with a plastic bag. They include: 

  • Wires 
  • Battery 
  • Control unit
  • Air engine 

Brush out the debris and dust using a vacuum or a dry towel; you have very little to scrub off later.

Create a cleaning solution:

Create a cleaning solution

You can buy an engine degreaser, but if you want to take the long route, you need a solvent that is not water-based (petrol, etc.) and a cleaning agent (soap or baking soda). 

Here are a few ideas to make an engine degreaser at home:

  • Kerosene and dish soap
  • White vinegar, baking soda, and lemon
  • Alcohol with soap

Clean the engine components:

Clean the engine components

Gently spray the degreaser on the engine bay and let it sit for less than a minute. Leaving it on for longer can result in damage to the components. Use a gentle scrubber or a brush to work the detergent in. You can do that with the detached components too.  

Remove the residue:

Remove the residue

Use a microfiber towel to wipe the residue off. You can repeat the process depending on the toughness of the stains. 

Dry the engine:

Dry the engine

After you’re done with soaking and scrubbing off the grime, dry it off so that no excess product remains behind. 

Protect the engine from future corrosion:

Protect the engine from future corrosion

Use an engine protectant to avoid scathing or engine collapse before time. Do not spray the polish all over the engine. Rather use another clean towel to rub it in. A protectant is not only going to lock in the shine, but it is also going to keep the engine clean and lush for longer. 

Reassemble the engine:

Reassemble the engine

The last step is rearranging the engine to its default setup by restoring everything, connecting the battery terminals, and uncovering the shielded spare parts. That concludes the hefty-looking process of getting your engine as new as the day you bought it in nine manageable steps. 

Expert Opinion

Life opens and puts us in challenging situations where we must go out of our way to get things done. Talking about engines, they should not be cleaned using regular solvents because of the following reasons:

  • Water can cause the seizing up of the engine when it gets stuck in the air engine system or oil chamber
  • The wiring is prone to short-circuiting if it comes in contact with water 
  • It can get in the belts to cause squeaking 
  • It can impair the air sensors 

These reasons justify using organic solvents to remove grime and grease on dirt. This article surely assists you in all the known ways.