I didn’t need a CR Spotless Water Systems Deionizing water filter deal, but now that I have one it’s hard to see how I could go on living without it. When CR’s nice PR woman asked if I’d like to try one, I almost didn’t. I’ve used the “Spot-Free Rinse” at the car wash, which I decided is probably a bad translation from the Chinese “Free Spots 25 Cents”. Rinse your thing with this CR Spotless deionized water, and you’re supposed to be able to walk away and let mother nature do the drying without worrying about unsightly water spots.

How could this possibly work? You have to dry things after you wash them or you’ll have spots: Cars, motorcycles, wine glasses are all the same. Frankly, drying my motorcycles after I wash them has never seemed like that big a chore to me, since here in sunny SoCal I don’t wash them much. (My bud Jim takes weird pride in the fact that his Ducati has never been touched by soap or water.) The average bike doesn’t really have all that much surface area, and there’s no way to get all the nooks and crannies dry anyway. Besides, drying your bike after you wash it, even half-assedly, is a good time to give all systems a good eye-balling. It’s kind of a labor of love. On the other hand, drying your car (provided you have one you actually care about keeping clean and shiny) quickly gets to be a PITA.

Supposedly, the key here is deionization via ion exchange, as your hose water passes through a special resin which removes all the minerals and salts and things which are normally left behind when a drop of water dries on your paint. You can read all about it at CR’s FAQ page.

Everything needed came in the box with my DIC-20 system, including Teflon tape. Screw on the two big plastic cartridges which contain the resin, screw the supplied stainless steel hose between your bib and the IN bib on the CR system, attach your garden hose to the OUT, and turn on the water.

I started off with the hardest test, because I didn’t believe this thing could possibly work: I parked my ’97 Shaguar in the hot March sun and soaped it up, a thing I would never normally do. It was hot enough that I had to work quick to rinse the car off with the Spotless system before the soapy water dried. The car does have a decent coat of wax on it; the water beaded up and I chilled with a beverage to await the results.

Ah, yup, the car dried completely spotlessly and looked cleaner than ever. I’d always dried it in the shade whenever possible, with a synthetic chamois and a towel – especially the glass, which would always wind up a little streaky anyway. But when the CR Spotless deionized water had evaporated from the glass and chrome, those areas were more streak-free and shiny than I’d ever seen them, and totally spotless and clean. Amazing, really. Even the rubber looked somehow better than usual.

Washing my old Jaguar with Turtlewax carwash and rinsing with the CR Spotless system, in the hot sun, resulted in it being cleaner than it’s been since I’ve owned it. Literally spotless.

Washing my old Jaguar with Turtlewax carwash and rinsing with the CR Spotless system, in the hot sun, resulted in it being cleaner than it’s been since I’ve owned it. Literally spotless.

The real test might be some really chrome-encrusted bike like a Heritage Softail Springer or something, but we didn’t have one on hand. I rolled my naked R1 out in the sun instead alongside our Yamaha TMax scooter in flat black, soaped them both up, instrument panels and all, and rinsed both with the Spotless deionized water. They both also dried perfectly spot-free and beautiful, with not a single swipe of towel to either one, and the R1 is the cleanest I’ve ever seen it, particularly in all the impossible-to-reach areas.

Hmm, the wall mount version saves you $50 and would be one less thing to trip over in the garage…

Hmm, the wall mount version saves you $50 and would be one less thing to trip over in the garage…

If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyeballs, I wouldn’t have believed it. The downside is it ain’t exactly cheap. The DIC-20 CR sent me to test sells for $449.95, though there is a DI-120 system for $249.95 with one filter cartridge instead of two. The expensive part of the equation is that the resin doesn’t last all that long. Our DIC-20 is a “300-gallon” system, meaning that you’ll get around that much deionized water out of it, depending on the quality of the water you put into it, before you’ll need to replace the resin packs. And you’re looking at $90 per replacement.

CR Spotless’ Director of Sales and Marketing John Fernandez says he washes two or three cars a week and replaces his cartridges every 10-12 weeks. At that rate, he says, it boils down to about a $25-a-month habit. A lot of it depends on the “TDS” of your water supply: Total Dissolved Solids are the total amount of mobile charged ions, including minerals, salts or metals dissolved in a given volume of water, expressed in units of mg per unit volume of water (mg/L), or parts per million (ppm). Fernandez says his SoCal water supply has a TDS of about 250, but it can vary from 175 to 500 depending on where you live, meaning the 300-gallon model deionizer might produce as few as 155 gallons or as many as 435. “Think of it as a couple martinis a month habit, and you’ll be fine,” says Hernandez, “It’s what you pay for the magic.” I like how he thinks. Anyway, you know it’s time for fresh resin when the system’s electronic TDS meter reaches 20. Mine’s still at 0000.

The downside is the resin that makes the magic happen is going to set you back about $90 per refill. For some people, it’s a small price to pay.

The downside is the resin that makes the magic happen is going to set you back about $90 per refill. For some people, it’s a small price to pay.

Just as I was about to wash my car, I heard on the garage radio that Jerry Brown had called for a 25% reduction in water use for California. Good thing the CR is pretty miserly with water. The DIC-20 has a maximum flow rate of 2.5 gallons per minute, and the instructions are to only use the low settings on the provided nozzle. Again, my California car stays pretty clean most of the time. I can fill a bucket with about 1.5 gallons of water and a little detergent and soap up the whole thing. And if it takes two minutes to rinse with the Spotless water, that’s maybe six gallons total. A good wash and rinse of my R1 used less than half that amount I bet, and if you were only using the CR to wash motorcycles, your resin would last a long time. Another water-saving option is to plumb the deionizer in upstream of your pressure washer, if you use one, since the typical pressure washer slows flow to less than 2 gpm. Then your CR system becomes also great for washing dirty dirtbikes and monster trucks, along with windows and solar panels.

Wow, this is an awesome product if you can swing it, and if you wash lots of bikes or cars or whatever, it seems almost like a must-have. You’ll be using zero water to launder your drying towels anymore, and the time you spent drying can now be used for drinking a beer or two, further conserving water. Kudos…

  • Craig Hoffman

    Interesting product. I bet the water that comes out of this would kick butt in my Mytee Lite II pro level auto detailer/carpet cleaning machine. Why do I have one of those? I have a lot of carpet in the house that I am too cheap to replace, kids and a semi incontinent dog. A local carpet cleaner advertises “empowered water”. Their thing is they use no soap, which makes sense for carpet cleaning as the last thing you want is a lot of soap left behind. I bet they treat their water with a similar process.

    I have a higher end Rainsoft water filter/softener in my house. It does not do what this product does, but it does filter and soften the water, and the reduction in spots and residue is probably 80% there. The bonus is the water tastes great out of the tap (on par with bottled water) and you use a lot less soap for laundry, shampoo, everything. The treated water from my softener/filter does make a difference in how my previously mentioned cleaning machine performs, so what the review says really does ring true.

    One of my bike cleaning tricks is to use an electric leaf blower to blast leftover water out of the nooks and crannies. Doing so pleases my inner OCD child.

    While discussing cleaning products, I recently bought one of these, can vouch that it is a really awesome electric power washer. Much better than the others I owned or have used. It has real metal fittings and a smooth strong spray. Ya, as mentioned, I am a little OCD, so the featured product appeals to me. Thanks for the review :)

    http://www.arblueclean.com/Products/1900-psi-power-washer-165.cfm

    • Captain Obvious

      Craig, can I ask a favor? Before casually throwing around the term OCD, will you do a little bit of research on OCD to learn what it’s about? It has become common in our parlance to say “I’m a little bit OCD” to mean “I have a personality quirk that values neatness”. I get it, it’s an easy way to say it, and perceived as somewhat clever/humorous. In reality, for those of us who suffer with OCD it’s pretty offensive. I know you didn’t mean to be, but it is. Let me explain.

      OCD is a devastating condition that works like this: think of something that is incredibly dear to you – family, health, religion, pet – whatever it might be for you, and now imagine someone standing next to you, and without your permission periodically say things to you that insult, desecrate, or violate that thing. You can’t make the person shut up. It’s not constant, it comes periodically, and you hate it. You want him to stop, but you can’t make him stop. You’d give anything to make him stop, but he won’t. You walk around all day with dread, knowing that he could pop up and start saying these horrible things to you. That dread makes you so anxious that you’ll try anything to make him stop talking. At one point you stumble onto an action that after you do it, he stops. And the relief you feel in incredible! So the next time he shows up saying perverted things, you immediately repeat that action, but this time it doesn’t work. He’s still there. So you do the action again, and again, and then he stops. But you don’t feel that much relief because you realize it didn’t work as well, but eventually it did. So when he shows up again saying terrible things, you do the action again, again, again, but as you do them, you become even more anxious because you now realize the action isn’t making him stop. But a conflict brews in your mind, if you don’t do this, then what will you do? So you do them again, agonizing over knowing that the action isn’t doing anything, but being unable to stop, because what if stopping makes it worse? What if he won’t go away if you stop? Your world comes crashing down around you in a big heap of doubt, anxiety, fear, hatred. All you want is for the guy to stop saying these horrible things, and there’s nothing you can do, or not do. You’re trapped in a world of these despicable things coming at you, and if you do nothing it gets worse, and if you do something about it, it gets worse. It’s the very definition of a living hell.

      That, my friend, is OCD

      • JMDonald

        It looks like your disfunction has manifested itself in the form of hypersensitivity. Let me explain. Your response is so ridiculous you probably have no idea how stupid it makes you look. I get it, you see any casual mention of your disorder as an opportunity to be more in touch with your pedantic nebbish self. Get real Captain Obvious. Save the righteous indignation for a real offense not some concocted micro aggression. Sheesh!

        • Captain Obvious

          Thanks for the feedback. Since I did not mean to come across as indignant, much less righteously so, can you let me know what it is about my explanation that made you interpret it that way?

          As for my response being ridiculous, do you mean that I responded about the OCD comment instead of the topic at hand (a hijack, to be sure), or are you OK with the content, but my explanation missed the mark?

          Honest questions here. I take the opportunity to educate whenever possible, and want to do it as well as I can.

          • JMDonald

            The overkill of your response led me to sarcastically infer that you may have done so because you felt righteously indignant. You have no right to be righteously indignant about Mr. Hoffman’s mention of OCD. That’s the sarcasm in case you missed it. The ridiculous part is that you felt it necessary to respond to Mr. Hoffman’s mentioning OCD at all. His reference was to his own behavior and did not require any explanation. Hence the pedantic nebbish reference. It was nice of you to take it upon yourself to educate us in the intricacies of OCD but it was out of place in a thread about a water deionization system. Are those afflicted with OCD so fragile that any reference of OCD offends their delicate natures? If that is the case perhaps you should post on sites other than Comics Kingdom to better prepare yourself for a more adult conversation. No one was trying to belittle those afflicted with OCD. For you to try and make an issue out of nothing is the only transgression I see.

          • Captain Obvious

            Good explanation, thank you. I do need to be more cognizant of location/audience. In retrospect I did go on too much. This is a good reminder. I appreciate the message, less so the tone, however immaterial.

            I do hope you can take away a little bit of extra knowledge, independent of the clumsiness of my delivery.

            One final apology for the hijack.

          • Craig Hoffman

            Sorry Captain. I did not mean to offend, and please rest assured I took no offense to your response. Color me enlightened.

          • Ted

            Unbelieveable.

          • Ted

            AMEN!!!!!

        • john burns

          a little harsh JM. a lot really.

          • w2e2b

            I agree with JM., Obvious Captain Diatribe went way overboard with that rant.

          • john burns

            well he did go on, didn’t he? but in a nice way that really didn’t call for calling him ridiculous, stupid and pedantic nebbish. Which isn’t bad, relatively. I am thinking lately I need to to do a column about how much nicer people are than in the early days of the web when everybody felt safely anonymous. MO comments aren’t near as bad as they used to be.

    • Ted

      Craig, you said nothing to apologize for. Captain does not own the term, have the right to define it, or to dictate how it is used. He assumes you do not actually have a milder case of it, how does he know? Apparrently he is one that thinks if you aren’t as sick as he is you just don’t count. I’m tired of internet bullies, under any guise. He reminds me of other marines that think if you weren’t in my battles you weren’t really in combat, or if you weren’t injured as bad as me you don’t really deserve a purple heart. I bled for the right of free speech and am not going to give it up that easily.

      • Craig Hoffman

        Thanks Ted and I hear what you are sayin’. At this (semi old guy) stage in life though, some battles are not worth fighting and I really am sorry if I offended him. Really, this is not that big a deal to me. Too busy havin’ fun riding my motorcycles :)

  • JMDonald

    I like this concept. This along with an air blaster would be perfect for any type of vehicle.

  • 12er

    This would of came in handy when I washed my car at a friends in Ojai once, the hard water dried faster than I could scrub it off. Car looked worse than before I started.

  • detrich

    From personal experience, I’m really skeptical about these so-called, no-drying washing systems… For example, Mr. Clean AutoDry is a terrible system that doesn’t really work if your area has hard water, or if the filter isn’t fully charged 100% of the time. It does and will leave water marks that you will in turn be detailing or paying a detailer to remove for any $ you might’ve saved. The bottom-line is that there really are no short cuts, imo. If you wash your car or bike properly- always using clean, micro-fiber wash mitts/ towels- along with gentle parallel strokes, you’re not going to get as many swirl marks as you think. The karate kid wax on wax off is exactly what swirls up car & moto clear coat.

  • http://jobsover50.ca Dan Labbe

    i use S40 on my bike, it leaves a great shine but i have to rince the heck out of it or the s40 sticks to the paint. jobsover50.ca 1100ACE

  • Patriot159

    Neat idea. Glad it works so well but for that amount of $$, I’l keep on with washing and drying in the shade for about 25 cents per. If you have hard water, a little Jet-Dry rinse agent in the soapy water helps reduce spots.

  • myassbleedsforyou

    I had a bird crap on my bike after washing. One stain that is hard to get rid of no matter the system you use.