Use Pre-Wax Cleaner to Remove Old Wax


In this article you will learn:

  • How to remove old layers of wax from your car

  • Which products to use as a pre-wax cleaner

  • When to leave the existing wax or sealant

With the start of a new season, you may want to give your car a good wax to add a fresh, new layer of shine and protection.

But one step that many DIY detailers tend to overlook is using a pre wax cleaner to remove their car's old layer of wax before applying a new layer of wax directly to their paint surface. Not only does this help your wax last much longer, but it also makes for a smoother protective coating!

So, how do you remove the old layer of wax from your car, and what exactly is a pre-wax cleaner? Here's everything you need to know.

The ins and outs of pre-wax cleaner

Most traditional car waxes, like carnauba wax, don’t last for very long on the surface of your car. Between exposure to acid rain, flying debris and harsh UV rays, within three months, most, if not all, of your car's wax layer has worn away. And, once you start applying a new layer of wax to your car, the carrier fluids in the formula will redissolve any remnants of the old wax, so there’s no need to worry about removing leftover traces.

But nowadays, many detailers and auto enthusiasts prefer more durable car wax solutions infused with ceramic or graphene polymers. These hybrid waxes have the extended durability of a paint sealant, as well as the wet-like shine of a traditional carnauba wax to give you the combined benefits of each. However, because hybrid waxes are more durable, they’re also more difficult to remove.

That’s where pre wax cleaners come in. These cleaners and polishing agents strip away old layers of wax from your car so you can start your exterior detail on a fresh, clean paint surface. We recommend a heavy-duty car wash like M.A.X. Power Detergent to remove the dirt and soils from your car while getting rid of any leftover car wax.

If your car has a sealant or ceramic coating, you’ll need to use a polishing compound like Hybrid Solutions Pro 1 & Done and a cutting pad to remove this tough layer of polymers. However, most of the time, you don’t need to polish away your old paint sealant to apply a new layer of wax to your car. This only strips the foundation of your finish and leaves your clear coat more vulnerable to scratches and swirls. The only time you may want to remove an old paint sealant is when you’re ready to apply a fresh sealant or ceramic coating.

m.a.x. power detergent

Start with a maximum strength car wash

Start by rinsing your car to remove away any loose dirt or soils. Then, dilute 9 oz of M.A.X. Power Detergent per gallon into a 5-gallon bucket of water, using a jet setting on your hose to produce a generous foam. Dip your microfiber wash mitt or an edgeless detailing cloth into your cleaning solution and wash the entire surface of your car.

Start from the roof and work your way down until you’ve covered every panel of your car exterior. Be sure to scrub away any tough stains like bird droppings or bug remains. Rinse your car thoroughly and hand dry your vehicle with a fresh, microfiber towel. For most waxes, this is all you need to do to strip away that old layer. However, for more durable waxes and paint sealants, you’ll need to perform a few additional steps.

Apply a clay bar to your finish

To remove a more durable, hybrid or synthetic wax, you’ll need to use a clay bar and lubricant to strip any leftover wax from the surface of your clear coat, along with any stubborn, surface contaminants. To do this, shape about half of a clay bar into a flattened oval about the size of your palm. Add a generous amount of lubricant to your clay bar and paint finish. Then, apply the clay bar to your paint finish, allowing the clay to glide back and forth over the surface of your car. Knead the clay to reveal a fresh surface as you lift wax and contaminants from your clear coat, continuing to apply lubricant as needed until you’ve covered the entire surface of your car. Wipe away any excess product using a clean, microfiber towel.

Polish your car to remove coatings and sealants

Finally, use a polish to strip away your worn ceramic coating or paint sealant. You should only perform this step once you’ve washed your car and applied a clay bar to your finish since polishing a dirty car exterior can scratch or damage your paintwork.

Apply 4 dime-sized drop of 1 & Done Polishing Compound to a light cutting pad. Buff a 2’ x 2’ section of your car, using back-and-forth, crosshatching motions to strip away your paint sealant ceramic coating and correct any light scratches and swirls in your paintwork. Once you’ve removed all the sealants from the finish, apply 4 more dime-sized drops of polish and use a gentle, finishing foam pad to buff out your finish to a mirror-like shine. Continue working in 2’ x 2’ sections until you’ve polished the entire surface of your car.

Congratulations! You’ve not only removed the old wax or sealants from your car, but you’ve now prepped your finish for a brand-new layer of protection and gloss so your car can shine like new again!

polish your car to remove coatings and sealants


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