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Mr. Clean Autodry

Mr. Clean Autodry a Hand Saver?

“Ban the bucket and throw the chamois away.”

That’s how the press blurb for Mr. Clean’s Autodry system starts, which seems a tad surprising when my media copy of the product showed up with a bucket. But that’s okay; I guess they needed a package in which to send it, or some other gimmic to pique the interest of jaded journalists.

Or maybe they just wanted me to have a bucket I could ban...

And it worked, as witnessed by the fact that I'm writing this.

I never hand wash my cars since, well, I’m just too darn lazy and there are a couple of good touch free automatic washes near my home base. But since this is my job, and I take it reasonably seriously, I had to try out this product lest people reading my review think I’m all wet. No pun intended, of course.

Anyway, Mr. Clean Autodry is a new car washing system that claims to give you a spot free finish while eliminating the need for you to hand dry your vehicle. Sounds good to me; now if only it would do the whole washing job while I sit in the home theater….

According to Procter and Gamble, the product’s development began after the company identified a hole in the market for a product that could deliver the abovementioned spotless finish without the aforementioned hand drying. Basically, they say that car nuts love the hand dried look, but aren’t too thrilled with having to use their hands to get it.

So the company spent 3 and a half years “exposure testing” the product and ended up with something they feel worthy of its eight international patents and approval by Motor Trend magazine. And they’re confident enough to guarantee the finish without the hand wringing.

The system uses three steps to do the job, and the package includes a big multi-function nozzle you put on your garden hose. That Big Nozzle (which P&G calls a “sprayer device”) is what supposedly eliminates the need for a bucket – and in my experience it does exactly that. It’s like a big version of those pressure washers you can buy, but without the pressure. In fact, that was my biggest complaint about the system: not enough pressure. This could have been affected by the water pressure from my home, I suppose, but regardless of the source of the problem I wished for enough power to blast under wheel wells or blow bugs away from the bumpers. And this didn't do it.

The Big Nozzle, sorry – Sprayer Device – contains everything you need to do the job, once you’ve filled its various reservoirs with the appropriate stuff. It has three separate spray paths for different cycles of the wash; one’s for tap water, one’s for soap, and one’s for the filtered water that comes with the system and performs the spot free rinse cycle.

The first thing you do when unpacking the system is install the special filter into the “handset,” fill the soap reservoir with the special Mr. Clean soap, and then attach the hose and grab your washing mitt (not included). The Big Nozzle itself is quite ergonomic; it’s easy to use, comfortable to hold, has a reasonably substantial feel to it, and includes an easy to turn switch that activates each of the process’s steps.

Once you’re ready to go the first step is to use the RINSE setting to hose down the vehicle. Then you switch it to the SOAP setting and spray the vehicle again, followed by a rub down with the mitt or whatever rag you’re using. RINSE again to get rid of the soap (which is actually, at least in my case, the most tedious part) and then move on to the magical Mr. Clean AUTODRY step that delivers de-ionized water drawn through the filter you installed at the beginning. Starting at the roof, you’re supposed to stay within one foot of the car while using a back and forth spray motion until the regular rinse water has been removed.

Then, as the blurb says, “watch the water dry spot free before your eyes!”

Well, you can do that if you want. I did the dirty deed in my garage and long before the car actually dried I got bored with watching it (it’s analogous to watching paint dry or grass grow, although it does allow you to ogle your favorite set of wheels lovingly over a prolonged period of time) and went inside for a well-earned beer. But eventually the car dried and I was ready to give it a coat of wax, which has nothing to do wit this article other than to illustrate that wild horses can, in fact, drag me into such a task.

The process is very easy and straightforward, though my son and I experienced mixed results.

I used the system on both of my cars, and was happy with the results on one and not so happy on the other. Part of the reason could be the cars themselves, and their respective colors and finishes. It worked very well on my 1991 Infiniti Q45, which is a lustrous pearl white in color and still carries a nice shine despite having been neglected by its previous owner (and never waxed by me in the year I’ve had it, which, I suppose, means it was neglected by at least two owners!). The biggest problem with the Q was getting the Big Nozzle within a foot of the middle of the roof, but that’s not a shortcoming of the Mr. Clean system; rather it’s a shortcoming of my legs….

We also have a 1992 Toyota Corolla that was probably bright red at one time but which looks like it’s been sitting under a bright desert sun ever since rolling off the assembly line. This is despite the fact that it’s been garaged since we bought it some eight years ago. Anyway, Mr. Clean – and (even worse) the subsequent wax job – did a rather spotty job on the Corolla. Perhaps this is an illustration of the differences between a high end car's original paint and that of a low end car, so perhaps Mr. Clean will work best with cars that are either reasonably upper crust or which have at least been taken care of properly.

My son also tried the system on his black 2000 Honda Prelude SH and his results were similar to mine with the Corolla. He found Mr. Clean left a milky white film on his car, though he also admitted that me may not have given it sufficient rinsing before going to the “drying” step. He also complained about the lack of pressure, which as mentioned above may be more of an indictment of my city’s water works than Mr. Clean’s water workings.

Still, we’re going to keep using Mr. Clean at least until the supplied equipment runs out - at least on the Q45. When will that be? The little brochure/instructions thingy that comes with Mr. Clean Autodry says the starter kit should be good for about 10 uses on average sized vehicles (whatever that means!). And naturally Mr. Clean warns you not to mess with any other type of soap; while they stop short of warning that you’ll burn in Hell, they do say other soap could clog the system and don’t contain the Mister’s “Dry Rinse Polymer” that’s supposedly the system’s deep dark secret.

Of course they could just want to keep selling you consumables, too, not that there's anything wrong with that.

Pricing, in Canadian dollars, is $29.95 for the starter kit, $7.99 for a soap refill and $8.99 for a new filter.

You can find more information at


Jim Bray is a member of the Automobile Journalists Association of Canada. His columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

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