Understanding Your Drying Agent - Professional Carwashing & Detailing
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Operations and Management

Understanding Your Drying Agent

Having a dry car is one of the most important elements in consumer satisfaction.

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Having a dry car is one of the most important elements in consumer satisfaction. If a consumer drives away and has to turn on their windshield wipers to see, they often feel that they didn't get the clean, shiny, dry car that they were after. What aids in achieving the dryness of a vehicle? A drying agent. But how does a drying agent work?

The purpose of a drying agent is to aid in the removal of water from the surface. This can be achieved by making the surface of the vehicle "Hydrophobic" or water fearing. If a vehicle surface is hydrophobic, any water that is on the surface will try its best to get off of that surface. In effect, the water gathers together trying to decrease its contact with the surface forming sheets and beads that will roll off the surface. With a properly prepared hydrophobic vehicle surface, the water will literally explode off the surface while going through the blowers.


The chemistry involved in making a surface hydrophobic is based on a water emulsion involving a very hydrophobic material such as some types of oil and a cationic surfactant blend. Cationic surfactants have two functions. First, to hold or emulsify the oil in the water both in the container and as it is diluted and applied in the wash. Second, is to attach the hydrophobe to the surface of the vehicle.

What makes a drying agent perform properly? There are a few things. First and foremost, it is easier to dry a clean car than a dirty one. Detergents that are used need to be working at optimal performance to ensure the dirt has been removed from the surface before the drying agent is applied. If there is dirt on the surface of a vehicle it causes an uneven surface, which makes it difficult for the drying agent to coat the surface effectively.


Another factor that can affect your drying agent performance is residual detergent. Vehicles that have not been properly rinsed will interfere with the drying agent. Detergents are intended to decrease the surface tension and cause the water to spread over the surface, which is the opposite of what you want your drying agent to do. Drying agents should always be applied with fresh water or spot free water (never reclaim water) to avoid residual surfactant that the drying agent would have to overcome.

It is important when applying a drying agent to inject the emulsion evenly into a stream of water. When the water hits the vehicle's surface the emulsion must break and the active ingredients attach to the surface. The most effective way to achieve good results is to apply the drying agent with both low water volume and pressure. The greater the volumes and pressures, the less of the mixture will come in contract with the surface and active ingredients go onto the floor, not the car.


A drying agent plays an important role in the overall consumer satisfaction. Remember that drying agents don't work alone. It is the combination effective detergents, fresh water and the application for the drying agent to work properly.

From the Lustra Team – Keep Shining

For more information go to LustraBear.com.

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