Car wax/polish, applicators, buffing rags, chamois...the works

I just leased my first new car in 25 years. I had a string of hand-me-downs from elderly relatives that were not worth waxing by the time I got them. Would like to get back in the game, looking to keep this looking good.

Car wax/polish: What do you like? The most recent post I see on this is from 2008, figure there are some changes. The last one I used came with the new car (Saturn). :slight_smile:

Review I read liked Maguier, Turtle Wax, Nu Finish.

Scared of scratching the clear coat when scrubbing off dirt. Any methods you use to minimize? Figure a long handled soft bristle brush with lots of soapy water to loosen, then rinse ALOT.

What do you use to dry it? I could use old clean cotton towels but I was hearing about microfiber rags, chamois,are they worth it? What do you use?

Wax applicator? I used to use a clean men’s folded hankie but suspect there is a better way.

Buffing polishing rag?

Thanks, ya’ll

Just put car detailing in your search engine and you will have more cleaning video’s than you can ever look at.

If the vehicle is leased, just prevent any damage to the body of the vehicle, because you’ll pay for it when the lease is up.

When you buy the vehicle, that’s when you invest in taking care of the finish.



If you are going to return the leased car in 3 years then why?

But that is not your question :slight_smile:

I have a lot of experience keeping cars looking good well after they are mechanically falling apart.

Wash with a car wash detergent. I use a car wash sponge and have not found anything fancier any better. They are $1 (I am cheap). Just rinse between each time you go to the soap bucket or use the two bucket method.

The regular turtle wax is fine, just takes more effort to get off and does not last very long, so you have to put a $ value on your time and decide.

For drying you can try the absorber or waffle weave towels. I use both. Get most of it off with the absorber and then use the towel to dry it well. We have hard water and esp with dark cars it could be PITA. I use old cotton T shirts for the bottom of the doors and the seals so my pricey towels last me longer. My wife won’t let me wash the towels with our laundry but sometimes they do find their way inside the machine!

I use McGuire’s not the cheapest the one in between. Walmart has it for $10, I have seen the synthetic for $20 but have not used it yet.

Apply with the sponge that comes with it and then take off with MF towels.

I don’t use a machine for polishing, I consider it needed exercise and also probably less chance of damaging the paint.

You can use a strong blower for drying but mine does not work well for this. A CA blade might be good too.

Car wax/polish: Maguier, Turtle Wax, Nu Finish are all good. My gf uses Turtle Wax or Nu Finish, I use a product called “Rain Dance”. Equivalent results. Rain Dance seems a little easier to apply and remove, but not much.

Scrubbing off dirt … minimize scratching? I spray the whole car off with a hose thoroughly first. Wait 30 minutes, then spray it off again. That will get most of the scratchy stuff off. Then proceed with the suds and sponge then rinse.

What do you use to dry it? Old (but clean) cotton terry-cloth hand towels.

Wax applicator? Sponge.

Buffing polishing rag? Clean cotton terry-cloth hand towels.

If you’re short on time, only have a few minutes to do something at least, just a spray off with a hose works wonders on protecting the finish.

(If you’re short on time, only have a few minutes to do something at least, just a spray off with a hose works wonders on protecting the finish.)

This is a perfect way to make sure you have difficult water spots to remove when you do have time to wash the vehicle.

What I use

  1. Two buckets, both with grit guards. One for the car wash soap and the other for just clean water
  2. The car wash soap/shampoo; you get what you pay for. I use Chemical Guys Citrus Wash and Gloss, but if you’re on a budget, Meguires Gold Class is a solid choice and is available everywhere. You will also need a wash mitt. I recommend a microfiber mitt.
  3. Foam Gun (if you’re using a hose) Foam Cannon (if you have a pressure washer)
  4. Wheel brush and a Wheel wand (if you have hard to clean wheels)
  5. Wheel/Tire cleaner; there isn’t alot of difference in effectiveness between the brands that I’ve seen
  6. Spray on detailer/wax
  7. Stoner Invisible Glass , best glass cleaner around IMHO
  8. 3 or 4 microfiber cloths
  9. Cordless leaf blower
  10. Tire dressing and applicator, a thick gel works best

What I do.

  1. Fill up one bucket with water and nothing else
  2. Put some soap (check the label for the proper dilution) in the other bucket and fill it up as well
  3. Put some soap in the foam gun/cannon and again dilute it properly.
  4. Hose down the entire vehicle.
  5. Using the foam gun/cannon apply soap to the section you want to start with. Normally this is the roof.
  6. Wet down the wash mitt and then load it up with soap from the bucket and wash the roof (or whatever section you started with, again it’s best to start at the top).
  7. After you’ve finished the section, then rinse the wash mitt in the bucket with clean water
  8. Use the hose to rinse off the section you just washed
  9. Repeat steps 5-8 on the remaining sections of the car. Ideally you’ll save the dirtiest parts (lower sections of the vehicle) for last.
  10. Once you’ve finished washing the vehicle, give it another full rinse with the hose
  11. Clean the wheels. Depending on where there car is parked, you might want to do this first, but if you car is parked on pavement or concrete, there’s little chance of dirt/mud splashing back up on it when you clean the wheels.
  12. Hose off the wheels, then liberally spray wheel cleaner on one. Let the wheel cleaner work for about 30 seconds to a minute, and then scrub the wheel with the wheel brush, if the wheel is of somewhat complex design, you’ll want to use either a rigid or flexible wheel cleaning wand. After you’ve scrubbed the wheel, you’ll want to thoroughly rinse it off right away. Repeat this process for the remaining wheels
  13. Again hose off the entire car and wheels
  14. Get the leaf blower and try to blow the remaining water off the of car, you won’t get it all off, but you will get rid of alot of it and you’ll greatly reduce the chances of getting water spots.
  15. Use one of your microfiber cloths to dry the remaining water
  16. Apply the spay detailing wax on the car, one section at a time, and use another microfiber cloth to wipe it off and/or buff it if needed
  17. Spay the glass cleaner on the outside of the windshield and windows, again one at a time, and use another microfiber cloth to clean the glass.
  18. Get the tire dressing and apply it to the tires, using an applicator pad preferably. You can do this earlier if you want, but I usually save it for last, as by this time the car should be pretty dry.

If you just got it, wait a month or two to make sure the paint is hard, then give it a coat of wax. I use the Meguiars products but others such as Mothers are good too. Then every 6 months or so-I do fall and spring, after washing, use the Mothers clay bar treatment and then wax each time. It takes all the junk out of the paint before waxing. Run your hand over the paint and you’ll feel the difference.

Then for cars that are a couple years old, again twice a year, I use the clay bar, then machine polish with Meguiars professional products, machine glaze, and hand wax. After a car has been in service for a couple years, you really need to clean the dead paint off and polish all the little scratches out.

For the “full monte” of auto detailing info and products, try

Just a comment, DON’T use a bristle brush on the paint, ever. It will leave scratches. Never uses the same sponge you used on the wheels on the painted surfaces Brake dust is VERY abrasive.

Also, I have cars with lots of black plastic trim. I use Turtle Wax Ice spray wax. It doesn’t leave white residue on the black trim, it is super easy to use and leaves s slick surface that repels dirt somewhat.

Or you can run it through the touchless automatic wash whenever it looks dirty. Find one that is well maintained that does a good job and stick with it.

I have been washing and waxing cars since the days of Blue Coral and Westley’s Bleach White. Today is much easier.
On a new car,( I have 2- 2016’s), I clay first. Its amazing how much crud comes off. I now use Clay Zilla which is a pad with holder which will do several cars before wearing out. No kneading and if your drop it, you can wash it off. Whole car, maybe 1/2 hour.

Wash car, “clay” it, apply polish or sealer, not wax. Then washing is easy, and I follow with Lucas Slick Mist. Between washes, I use Wizards Mist N Shine. It claims to be anti static and seems to help keep dust off.

Nu Finish is durable and so easy to use you will feel like doing it more often.

I too have been waxing cars since the days of rubbing compound a Simonize paste wax. There are much better and easier waxes today.

First, waiting for the paint to harden is not necessary any more. That was true in the old days. Sooner is better.

I really like the new cross linked polymer waxes like Meguires Ultra Wax or Mothers Synthetic. They go one easy and last about a year, compared to about 2 months for a Carnauba wax.

But, they are not cleaner waxes like Nufinish. You need to claybar or use a polishing compound first, and they are a lot of work. On a brand new vehicle, you can probably skip that step if you wax it before it picks up waterspots. Once you have waterspots, you do not want to seal them in a polymer wax.

If you have a gritty type dirt that needs to be washed off, get a soft bristle brush made for washing paint and use it with a constant flow of water on the bristles until the grit is removed. Cloths, even microfiber cloths will trap grit and scratch the surface. The soft bristle brushes do not do that. I use a brush that the hose hooks up to so that water flows through the bristles.

After the grit is gone, I use a bucket with a soap/wax mix, even though there really isn’t enough wax in it to matter much. I like Mothers best for this. I use a microfiber cloth, but if you can find a sheepskin or all wool cloth, they work very well also. I’ve been told by a detailer that has very high end clients, that sheepskin is the least likely to scratch if it encounters any residual grit.

I’ll agree the paints now are pretty well settled by the time the car hits the dealer. One word of caution though is a lot of them get paint defects touched up at the dealer and polished again so you don’t know it. That local job shouldn’t be sealed so soon

Clay will not remove scratches in the paint but only surface contaminants. Those little spider web scratches from a cloth or brush either need to be polished out or glaze will fill the minor ones. Glaze though will wash out so needs to be sealed with a coat of wax. But you ask five detailers and you get five answers and they all have their products and formulas that they swear by. Essentially though you either use an abrasive polish/cleaner of varying grits, a glaze/sealer of varying compounds, and a wax/protectant of some kind. A cleaner/wax to me is like mixing wine and beer. Use one or the other but don’t mix both together.

Just do the two bucket wash method to avoid marring. When it comes to wax, Mothers and Megs are both good brands and available on most stores. For instant shine, I like using the TurtleWax Ice Spray wax. It can be used on plastics/rubbers and windows without leaving white residue.

What do you folks think the best strategy is if you are short on time? Say you only have 5 minutes, and the car is covered with dirt & dust? Spray it off with a hose? Or just leave it that way for another week?

Run it through a touchless car wash.

Re: Touchless car wash, best method if you car is filthy & you only have 5 minutes

Wouldn’t that leave water spots, same as w/a general hosing w/plain water?

What I use in the winter has a spot free rinse and the drying fan at the end. They strip the wax though and can still leave a film so I don’t use them except during snow season, or unless I’m in a real hurry and need a clean car.

The thing I don’t like about car washes is that they usually recycle the dirty water from all the car previously washed, then they use that to wash your car. They filter most of the dirt out II presume, but filtering isn’t going to get rid of road salts.

Well, tap water is also somewhat recycled and being that CA is in a drought, I would not worry much about the water. Actually the car wash water could be softer than the tap water where I am.

My concern with the touchless carwashes is that they use stronger detergents to compensate for the lack of friction.