Let me start this review with a confession. When it comes to car cleaning I may be suffering from a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I have spent too much money on fancy shampoos, clay bars, paint restorers and waxes. I actually enjoy rubbing my paintwork (snigger) with glossy substances, worry about things such as carnauba content and love to see the beading effect of water on a freshly waxed bonnet.
However, such care takes time, something I find increasingly precious. My usual car cleaning ritual has become less and less frequent, leaving my cars looking like something that’s been driven through a quarry and then abandoned in an airport car park for several months.
So I found myself with a mixture of scepticism and optimism as I stood with a bottle of Mantis Instant Shine in one hand and a pair of Mantis Microfibre Towels in the other. If you’ve never heard of Mantis Instant Shine allow me to quote the strapline on the bottle: “Clean and shine your car with NO WATER”. “Professional ‘wet look’ high gloss finish in minutes”.
Sounds good, right? Shiny car in minutes. No messing with buckets and sponges. ‘Yeah, right’ says my inner-sceptic.
The idea is that you spray the bright green substance over one panel at a time, let it soak in and then wipe it off with the first of the two Mantis cloths. You then buff the paintwork to a shine with the second cloth, a soft fluffy item that gently caresses the paintwork while soaking up any remaining traces of liquid
As the Instant Shine settles onto the paint it breaks down dust and grease, lifting it up and away from the paint. When you wipe it the microfibres in the cloth pick up the grit while the remaining liquid acts as a lubricating barrier, allowing you to wipe away the grime without dragging it over the paintwork. The theory sounds good.
Time To Clean
The first test was on the family runabout, our much neglected Mondeo. Having liberally sprayed a few panels with the Instant Shine it became apparent that it was working well on the lighter grime but struggling to break down the bird droppings, squashed bugs and bits of – eurgh, I don’t want to think about it. The results were mixed, with the upper bodywork coming out nice and clean but the lower panels and front looking decidedly patchy. Not a very convincing start.
But this was an extreme test. It must have been at least four months since the Mondeo was last cleaned, giving all of that muck plenty of time to bond itself to the paintwork. Even a ‘normal’ clean afterwards with bucket and sponge required plenty of elbow grease to break through the worst of it.
How would the Mantis spray fare on my daily driver, the Focus? When it comes to cleaning it’s the Focus that gets the most attention, so perhaps the Mantis spray would work better on the cleaner paintwork.
I set to work and it quickly became apparent that the spray was working much more effectively. It was getting through the lighter coating of muck while the microfibre cloth was lifting the dirt away very effectively. Frequent turning of the cloth revealed a surprising amount of dirt had been removed.
After little more than five minutes the paintwork was clean and shiny. Next came the alloy wheels and again the Instant Shine did a decent job of cutting through the brake dust and lifting it away from the surface of the wheels, making it easy to wipe away with the cloth.
Within about ten minutes the result was one very clean and shiny Focus. Close inspection revealed a few spots here and there that resisted the spray, namely a few dead bugs, tar spots and stubborn brake dust, but on the whole the results were surprisingly good. The glossy finish also repelled water quite well, although not as well as a proper wax would.
How Much Is This Mantis Instant Shine?
Mantis Instant Shine retails at £9.99 for a 500ml bottle while the two cloths are available as a pack for £4.99. After cleaning two cars there was a lot of spray left and I would estimate you could get seven or eight washes out of a bottle.
One thing I would recommend is using more than one microfibre cloth for wiping the spray off. You should use at least three, maybe more, and make sure you turn them often. If you haven’t already got a good selection of microfibre cloths then go and get some – they really are very good for cleaning cars, both inside and out.
When Mantis Instant Shine works it works very well. I would say it gives you 80% of the results in 10% of the time, so if you need to give your car a quick once over between ‘proper’ washes this is the stuff to use. It really does take just a few minutes and the resulting shine is very good.
I do have a slight nagging doubt about what happens to the grit as it’s lifted onto the cloth. Because you’re not rinsing the cloth as you would a sponge the grit remains in the fibres, meaning you can’t rub away at stubborn stains for fear of scratching the paint. The simple answer is to use more than one cloth and to use more spray where necessary.
While Mantis Instant Shine won’t replace my ritual shampoo and wax, it will certainly make it less frequent. It’ll also mean I’ve got a cleaner car more of the time because the usual excuse of not having enough time is much harder to justify!