Taking care of your car requires effort, whether you take it to the pros for washes, waxes, and detailing, or you spend time to make it shine yourself—and it often seems that, right after your car is sparkling again, rain or midnight moisture appears to cover its surface in water spots.
With a small tweak to your typical car care routine, you may be able to keep your car's surface and windows shining longer and better: you just need to add a little hair conditioning liquid.
The product is designed to make your hair shine with strength and smoothness, keeping color bright and protected from the damage of heat, product, and the natural world. When used to polish the surface of your car, hair conditioner does exactly the same job as it does in the shower.
Yet not all conditioners are great for keeping water spots away; you need one special ingredient. According to One Crazy House, that ingredients is lanolin. Not all conditioners feature this, which creates a protective barrier on your car's surface that helps water slide off more easily, preventing those ugly water spots from sticking.
Lanolin is a combination of fatty acids, waxes, and other organic compounds. It's a choice ingredient in some hair conditioners thanks to its ability to penetrate surfaces and increase moisture retention—and it's about 30 percent water in its makeup, too. As lanolin rests, whether on your hair or car, it works to absorb moisture from the air.
And since hair conditioner contains lanolin, a substance naturally secreted by sheep to protect their wool and skin, it is ideal for bringing out that luxurious deep waxed effect, as well as protecting against the elements.
Wondering if covering your car in hair conditioner is worth the effort? According to PopSugar, it is. They tested it, filling a bucket with two cups of water and ½ cup of conditioner. Using a microfiber cloth to prevent scratching the paint, they wiped the mixture over the car's surface, leaving one side of the vehicle untreated.
After hosing down the car and wiping it dry, PopSugar found that the untreated half was spotted with obvious water marks, while the conditioner side was spotless.
Shear Comfort and Driver Side both recommend using hair conditioner because it offers benefits beyond preventing water spotting. As they write, it works to not only remove dirt and wash the vehicle, but also covers the surface in a protective wax finish.
Oh, and hair conditioner can be used on other metals and glass—so don't be afraid to take it inside the house and try it on shower doors, metal appliances, and anywhere else water spots are a struggle.
So, conditioner works, but why bother giving up on traditional car cleaning and waxing products?
Hair conditioner truly works to repel water and dirt, leaving your car cleaner for longer lengths of time. It does leave a film of sorts, but not one that causes problems for the driver. If rinsed off well, the only thing that should be left behind is a smoother surface—exactly what you need to repel all that dirties your car.
Another reason to consider leaving car soap for conditioner is the price difference. Though some claim that hair conditioner is more expensive, you don't need the fanciest and priciest bottle to eliminate water spots. You need just two ounces of lanolin-based conditioner and water to create your own cleaning and polishing solution. Look for a low-priced conditioner—the ingredients are what matter most, and you can find bottles for as low as 3 or 4 dollars.
Ultimately, hair conditioner is a cheap and effective swap for fancy car washes and waxes. It contains similar lubricating compounds as auto-specific products, and offers easy-to-achieve shine whether it ends up on your hair or the paint of your car.