Washing and waxing

I’m very confused about how often to use cleaning products on my car. All the sources I read say to wash your car weekly and wax it 3-4 times a year. The shelf at the auto parts store has hundreds of different products like cleaner wax, drying wax quick detailers, sealer and glaze etc. When do I use these products, when I wash my car weekly, when I do the quarterly waxing, or somrwhere in between? Does anyone have a suggestion on how often to do what and with what product?

Lets start here.

When do I use these products, when I wash my car weekly, when I do the quarterly waxing, or somewhere in between?

You want to apply a good wax on a CLEAN car.

There are really 3 steps to waxing a car.

  1. Clean the car.
  2. Condition the surface.
  3. Apply a wax.

MOST people skip #2.

I only add the second step twice a year. But still wax 4 times a year.

I personally stay away from the Cleaner Waxes. I really don’t know how that can do very good job. You’re trying to remove dirt, yet apply a wax.

#1…Clean the car real good with a cleaner of your choice. I like Blue Coral or Mothers.

#2…Apply a good conditioner/polisher. This will deep clean the paint and polish the surface. If you want a good shine this is where you want to spend your time.

#3…Apply Sealant/Wax. This will protect the paint.

Good Luck.

I wash maybe eight times a year and wax maybe twice. I depends on how I feel and how the car looks. I don’t worry much about it.

There is a website called Cartalk that has a set of pages devoted to this very topic: http://www.cartalk.com/content/features/detailing/

They hide it under “Actual Car Info.”

It depends on where you live, the color of the car, and where the car is stored.

If you live in the hot south, park in the sun, and have a red or black car, you should wax it every one or two months. If you have a white car, live up north, and park in a garage, you might be able to get away with waxing the car once every six months or once a year.

The main thing is to keep a close eye on the condition of the paint. If water stops beading on the surface, it is time to polish and wax. If you can catch it before the water stops beading on the surface, you can wax without polishing.

I wash my car when it’s dirty enough to annoy me. Maybe once a month. I wax it less often than once per year. It spends most of its time in a garage and doesn’t seem to need waxing any more often than that.

In winter here in the Pennsylvania Poconos, I wash at a wand-type car wash whenever the salt and muck get too much for me . . . maybe once every two or three weeks. I wax before the really cold weather . . maybe mid-November, and then again in the Spring. During the Summer I wash and detail whenever I want to feel good . . I enjoy doing it (if the temp is OK). My Summer wash wax scenario is like this . . a quick bucket wash to get the obvious dirt off, then bug and tar remover on the sides and low spots, followed by a good bucket wash. It only takes a few minutes. Then one section at a time, a decent wax, applied and removed in the shade. Then a buff with my Sears buffer . . . and a final rub-down with a big towel. I then touch-up black plastic with armor-all or something like that. Looks nice and makes me feel good. My first job in the auto industry was detailing new and used cars at a Mopar dealership, still like doing it. BTW, this is what I do, there are many variations, you don’t have to spend a lot of time and money on it to make it look nice. Rocketman

Understand there is no “required maintenance” to wash and wax a car.

If you choose to do it and how often you do it is totally up to you. It’s all based on your interest for having a clean shiny car and having your cars paint be “nicer looking” for a longer time than it otherwise would.

In winter here in the Pennsylvania Poconos, I wash at a wand-type car wash

I use to here in NH…but the wand-type car washes keep vanishing. Closest one to me is about 20 miles away. Springing up in their place is the Touchless car washes.

Keeping the car clean will make it last longer. Especially if you live in the Rust Belt–you let that salt and road grime stay on your car for too long it’ll eat away the paint and eventually rot out the metal.

I’ve always kept my vehicles looking shiny and new for up to 17 years of ownership. I wash the vehicle using a long-handle soft-bristled car wash brush and a pail with lots of water and Ivory Liquid. I wax it with NuFinish three or four times a year.

Everyone always jumps in and says “oh no, NEVER use dish detergent”, but I’ve been using regular Ivory Liquid for decades with outstanding results.

It works. My cars stay great looking year after year, even here in NH with all the salt and slush.

I second the Ivory Liquid dish detergent recommendation. I got it from an interview with a professional car detailer. He tested various detergents by washing his (hard) contact lenses, found that Ivory rinsed clean the best.

As for which wax to use, you (the OP) are splitting hairs. I would not pay a big premium for a wax, tests have shown regular brands (Turtle Wax, etc.) do just as well. The big step is waxing it.

I agree. Any name brand wax will protect the finish as long as it’s actually USED.

People have often asked me how I keep my cars looking so good even when they get old. I tell them “I’ve discovered a coating that you can put on the paint that protects it and keeps it looking new”.
They alwsy ask "really? Waht is it?"
I always say “car wax”.
It usually takes a moment for my response to sink in.

The problem with Dish Washing detergent is it can strip the wax. Usually too harsh for the wax. Ivory may be different.

I’ve heard this repeatedly, but have not had that happen with the plain Ivory.

I emphasize “plain” bacause I frankly would not want to use one with citrus juices (like lemon) added. I have no idea if that would strip the wax or not.

When God wants my car washed, He sends the rain.

I have never seen it rain wax, which is all the information I need.

Here in rural Mexico, He apparently does not want it washed between November and May. This is also called the dry season.

Actually, I am joking. Four years ago, I was asked to transport a couple from the church to their wedding reception. I vacuumed the inside, wiped down all plastic interior parts with a chamois for dust. I also washed and wiped down the outside with my chamois. While the ceremony was going on, I went out and wiped it down again. This is a quarry town, and overnight a spit-shined car will be coated with dust. Only a very foolish person, or a young man who wants to really impress a woman will bother.

I just got back yesterday after driving 21 hours in two days. It ran perfectly.

I’ll bet the municipality doesn’t want it washed between Novemebr and May either.

Up here in NH our cars spend half their lives coated with salt and road filth. I wash mine in the winter whenever the temperature is warm enough and it happens to be clear out, but by the time I drive the 31 miles to work it’s a mess again. However, being a foolish person who wants to impress women I keep washing it.

Just FYI

Everybody’s got their little waxing procedures. I get “shot by my own gun” when it comes to advocating large cars and then I have to wax these puppies. We’ve got a Carvan, also. Also, I flair up carpal tunnel pain in both wrists when I wax a whole car, no matter how hard I try not to bend my wrists.

I Wash the car down and don’t even dry it, next I wax with a nifty little 5 or 6 inch diameter 120v orbital waxer with terry cloth bonnets. I get it damp and wax sections at a time and towel off the residue. I only have to muscle the nooks and crannies by hand and my wrist can tolerate those few areas.

This procedure gets stuck on, left-over bug parts, tar residue, and those little orange specks off way easier than hand rub waxing and I never see any swirls or unevenly waxed areas. It comes out as smooth as a baby’s bottom. It takes a lot of time and pain out of the chore.