Polishing your automobile is an important aspect of vehicle maintenance.
It creates a protective layer on your vehicle’s paintwork and body, preventing it from getting scratched and chipped, all while also minimizing the chances of its color fading or of the car ending up discolored.
A waxed vehicle shines, displaying the paint’s rich, gleaming hues. So, what will happen when the wax becomes brittle? What happens when it’s due to be reapplied? How do we clean it off?
Knowing the right way to clean the wax off cars is a technique that any specialist, hobbyist, or pro, ought to be familiar with.
Even nowadays, with the increasing popularity of social media and the amount of knowledge being distributed for free on detailed websites, community forums, and online or YouTube videos, there is still some uncertainty about this matter.
On the bright side of things, and in spite of all the misconceptions that exist, removing the car wax from your paintwork is extremely simple.
In this article, we will skip all the nonsense and offer you some vital pointers on how to properly peel and remove standard carnauba-based waxes from a car’s paintwork.
But before we delve deeper into the “how-to” of this task, it is necessary to understand what the conventional car wax’s components are, since this indicates the optimal plan of action for removal.
Table of Contents
- What Makes Up A Car Wax?
- Why Should You Clean Wax From The Car?
- Household Dish Soap: Can We Use It To Remove Wax?
- How To Remove Wax With Dish Soap?
- Wax Removal Shampoos
- Will These Car Soaps Work On Ceramic Coatings And Sealants?
- How To Clean Wax Residues From Trims, Plastic Bumpers, And Other Surfaces?
- Wax Removal From Glasses Or Windshields
- How Can One Tell If The Car Still Has Wax On It?
- The Bottom Line
What Makes Up A Car Wax?
Traditional automobile wax formulas often incorporate a combination of carnauba wax and other wax types such as beeswax, natural oils, and petrol distillates.
Several waxes nowadays are made by mixing a combination of natural and chemical components to increase their durability and gloss.
Carnauba is used in the majority of conventional waxes.
As this form of car wax is mostly composed of natural oils and waxes, as opposed to many of its more contemporary equivalents such as SiO2 sealant and coating, it does not last as much as the latter and is hence less difficult to clean.
Why Should You Clean Wax From The Car?
You might be wondering why one would ever wish to peel a protective layer from their paintwork. In certain circumstances, you simply have to do so.
When the previous layer of wax begins to wear away, a new coat should be applied. This normally happens after three months, although it might happen sooner if your vehicle is frequently exposed to the weather.
The major reasons for permanently removing wax from your paintwork are the following:
You Want To Prepare The Car Before You Polish It
This is most likely the primary reason that detailers desire to remove wax and oils from a car’s paintwork.
Many might claim that once you start polishing your vehicle, the largest part of the wax will be gone, but if you ask us, we do not really believe that this is the best course of action.
Both waxes as well as other protective materials might make it more difficult for you to use the polishes and pads.
Consider it as an obstruction in between the paints you wish to polish and the polishing equipment itself.
There have been quite a few people complaining about this before and saying that they did not see any results when they polished their cars.
Most of the time this was due to the way they were prepping their cars. So, as you can tell, a critical step in this procedure is removing the car wax and any protective layers.
You Would Like To Apply A New Coat Of Wax
When adding a new layer of wax to your vehicle, it is important to remove the previous coating first. Your paints ought to be bare and clear of any other contaminants to permit the wax to effectively bind to the paintwork.
This is not a strict rule, as it is dependent on when the prior layer was added.
For instance, if you wanted to double-coat a preexisting wax with the same substance, then there wouldn’t be anything to stop you from applying an additional layer within a week or two on top of the wax that was already on your vehicle.
Nonetheless, if the previous coat of wax was old (say, more than two to three months), you should remove it completely and start from scratch with clean paintwork.
We usually advocate peeling off the previous product before adding new brands or types of wax to the existing coating because not all waxes work well together.
Old wax can inhibit fresh waxes from bonding with your vehicle’s paint since it functions as a barricade between your vehicle and the wax’s protective layer.
As a result, when you also want to add the new wax, it will be less effective as a protective layer.
This also indicates you won’t receive the dazzling sheen that a new layer of wax provides. Finally, using new wax on top of old does not conceal or correct any faults on the car’s surface.
It just makes these flaws more difficult to eliminate.
You Are Dissatisfied With A Certain Product
When we were younger and much less experienced, many of us experimented with a variety of inexpensive items that were absolute torture to work with.
Most of the time, the gloss of our vehicle ended up looking way worse after using the wax.
Fortunately, we’ve learned from our mistakes and are all now exclusively buying high-quality waxes.
Needless to say, the levels of dissatisfaction after ruining our cars’ appearance probably led all of us to remove them immediately after we’d applied them.
Now that you understand the primary reasons for wanting to totally peel and remove wax from a car’s paintwork, let’s have a look at the numerous options available to help you do it.
A fast internet search will yield several wax removal procedures. However, be cautious because some will chip or otherwise harm your vehicle’s paintwork.
A microfiber towel must be used in side-to-side or up-and-down movements for every approach. To prevent damaging the paintwork, clean the car from top to bottom, moving slowly from the roof of the car to its lowest parts.
Household Dish Soap: Can We Use It To Remove Wax?
Many “Old School” people will argue that you can remove wax from a vehicle’s paintwork with the traditional household dishwashing liquid.
Will that be successful? The truth is that it will most probably do an excellent job of taking the wax off the paintwork.
Should you adopt this technique, though? If it is the only way you can go about it, that’s okay, but otherwise, you should not.
Dish soap is a rather caustic cleanser that will effectively clean baked-on fats off saucepans — it is certainly strong enough to remove wax off a vehicle. It is really harsh when compared to a decent-grade automobile washing soap.
Is this, however, a terrible thing? It’s fine for the occasional wash or two before a full detail, as it won’t do any substantial damage to your paintwork.
However, dishwashing detergents are certainly not suited for frequent car cleaning and will have a negative impact on the final coating when used on a regular basis.
How To Remove Wax With Dish Soap?
Even though this is not something we would advise you to do, in scenarios where you do not have any specialized goods for completing a strip wash on your vehicle, you could take off the wax from your car’s paintwork with common dish soap.
Rather than your typical car shampoo, just add a good amount of dish soap to a container with hot water.
While there are some dish soaps that are quite strong as detergents, some modern automobile waxes are highly resistant to chemicals, so you might have to try washing your vehicle more than once to get rid of the majority of the wax coating.
Another factor to take into account is the amount of time the wax has been there on the paintwork.
For instance, if you’d applied the wax only a week before trying to remove it, then doing so would be much easier than if it’d been added to the car a month prior to your attempt to remove it.
If there is not any evidence of water beading or sheeting on the paintwork, you have cleared it off its protection.
We are aware of the fact that the majority of people who are reading this post are not the sort to put anything made for home cleaning on their prized possession, so what other alternatives are there when it comes to items that can remove wax from a vehicle’s paintwork?
Fortunately, there are certain alternatives on the market that are particularly manufactured for this function while still being safe for your paintwork. So, let’s see what those are!
Wax Removal Shampoos
Available on Amazon, Meguiar’s Ultimate Waterless Wash & Wax is an excellent way to remove wax from your car.
This car cleanser varies from practically every other wash on the marketplace since it contains some extremely small abrasive particles.
The brand itself, Meguiars, claims it has the power to remove certain extremely thin swirl marks, but it depends on what you use it for to see if that is actually true.
- ONE EASY STEP: Premium formula conveniently and gently washes and adds...
- WATER SPOT-FREE: Advanced chemistry contains a water spot-free formula...
- LONG-LASTING BARRIER: Advanced polymer chemistry leaves behind a...
Adams has a specific washing solution intended to safely remove waxes from your car’s paintwork.
Adam’s Strip Car Wash Soap does an exceptional job in a two-bucket cleaning approach and can also be used in any foaming accessory like a Foam Cannon.
Because of its pH intensity, it is a wash soap that should not be used more than twice a year on your car. Thankfully, though, its effectiveness will make sure that you won’t need to use it more times than that!
- ✅ HIGH SUDS FORMULA SAFELY REMOVES DIRT & OTHER CONTAMINANTS - This...
- ✅ SAFELY STRIP CAR WAX & SEALANTS (WON'T STRIP CERAMIC COATING) -...
- ✅ CONCENTRATED SOAP BLEND USE - Adam’s Strip Wash should not be...
The Clean Slate Deep Surface Cleaning Car Wash Soap is a wash soap that is quite similar to Adams Strip wash, and it will produce equivalent effects.
This soap was created with this clear intention in mind and is among the most potent washing products for removing any prior wax-based protection layers from cars.
- PH BALANCED – Other detailing shampoos and low grade car wash soaps...
- BUCKET, FOAM GUN OR CANNON – Whether you are washing with a wash...
- BEGINNER AND PROFESSIONAL DETAILER FRIENDLY – Chemical Guys makes...
Will These Car Soaps Work On Ceramic Coatings And Sealants?
It is essential to remember that the above-mentioned shampoos do not have much effect, if any, on SiO2-based sealants and ceramic coatings.
One of the key advantages of varnishes is their resistance to chemicals, and the cleansing force of these washes will obviously be insufficient to dissolve the coatings.
How To Clean Wax Residues From Trims, Plastic Bumpers, And Other Surfaces?
Maybe there are occasions when you do not really want to remove the wax from the car’s entire surface but only want to remove it from a specific part of it.
So, for example, if you want to remove waxy residue from some plastic part of the car, the simplest way to do so is to use an IPA spray and a microfiber towel.
Wax Removal From Glasses Or Windshields
Another typical problem many people encounter is when they accidentally get wax or residue on their cars’ glasses, like windows and windshields.
Similarly, a microfiber towel mixed with a nice IPA spray, or a special cleanser should do the work simply and effectively.
How Can One Tell If The Car Still Has Wax On It?
Although you can estimate when your last wax layer needs to be replaced, it’s critical to check for residual wax before applying the new coating. There are a few different ways to check for leftover wax accumulation.
Pouring water on your car’s panels is one method for determining wax concentrations. If the water beads and slides off your car, then it still has wax on it. The more wax that stays on it, the larger and denser the water bead.
A visual assessment of your vehicle might also be beneficial. If the paint has a beautiful shine, the wax is still present. The wax is no longer present when the colors becomes faded.
You may also check for wax accumulation. The wax allows the cloth to slide across the surface silently. Roll up a microfiber towel around the car’s surface to check for waxy areas.
There is no wax residue left if the cloth squeaks.
The Bottom Line
We are hoping that the information in this article covers all of the basics for cleaning wax and its residue from your car’s paintwork.
As previously stated, these approaches will only be useful when working with conventional carnauba-based wax types.
Newer sealants and varnishes are considerably tougher and harder to remove, thus requiring a different solution.