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Do You Rinse After Wax at a Car Wash?

Do You Rinse After Wax at Car Wash

Waxing is an important part of taking care of your car’s exterior. It gives the paint a longer-lasting shine than washing alone. And it works as a sealant protecting the paint from dirt and salt for 1 to 3 months.

I like to rinse my car after waxing at a car wash to remove any lingering waxy residue.

Waxes also help your car’s paint dry faster, especially after it rains. You should use a pH neutral shampoo to wash your car between waxes. Here are some more things to think about when you’re waxing and rinsing your car at a car wash.

Applying Wax at a Car Wash

You can apply wax following the instructions on the product or use the special wax setting at self-service stations to apply a fine layer of wax.

There are two types of car washes: automatic and self-service. Automatic car washes use a system of foam applicators with the most common being a triple-foam applicator. At a self-service car wash you can apply the wax by hand using car wax you purchased. Simply follow the instructions provided on the product. Or you can use the special wax setting at self-service stations to apply a fine layer of wax to the car’s clean surface.

How Long Does It Take for Car Wax to Dry?

Car wax can take 20 to 30 minutes to dry and another 2 to 3 days to fully harden.

Before rinsing, you want to give the wax time to sit on the paint. Different types of wax require a different amount of time to harden. If you purchased your wax, the packaging should tell you how much time it needs to harden. Natural and synthetic polymer waxes typically take one and twenty-four hours to cure, respectively. Any time I’ve waxed my car, it typically doesn’t take more than 20 to 30 minutes to dry (depending on the wax). The wax coating usually reaches maximum hardness in 2 to 3 days.

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Rinsing Your Car After a Wax at a Car Wash

It's a good idea to rinse your car after its been waxed to remove any residual wax lingering on the paint.

After waxing, it’s a good idea to rinse the residual wax off your car with a spot free rinse. This is good practice whether using ordinary carnauba or synthetic polymer wax. The keyword here is rinsing which means you’ll need to be mindful of the water pressure. Do it yourself car washes already have the pressure adjusted when you select rinse option so that it doesn’t strip away the layer of wax you just applied.  

Does Washing Your Car Remove the Wax?

Washing your waxed car with neutral pH shampoos will help keep the wax from eroding.

This is where being aware of the pH of the shampoo you’re using to wash your car comes in. Washing your car will degrade the integrity of the wax to some extent. But it won’t strip it. You should wait at least 48 hours after applying wax to wash your car. Waxing seals your car’s paint job so that even imperfections like dirt stains are less visible. You want to give the paint time to cure so that it seals the paint before you wash your car again.

Using Car Shampoo with Wax

Shampoos with wax doesn’t have the same long-lasting effect as applying wax after you’ve washed your car.

Car shampoos are cleaning products that are great at removing layers of dirt from the surface of your paint. There are several car shampoos that come with wax added to the formula. Personally, I’m not a fan of two-in-one products because it often means compromise somewhere. Shampoos with wax don’t have the same long-lasting effect as applying wax after you’ve washed your car. They also don’t provide the same level of protection. And they can trap dirt and grime under it on top of the paint.  

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How Long Does Car Wax Last?

Car wax should last 2 to 3 months before you need reapplication.

You can expect car wax to last 2 to 3 months before the wax needs reapplication. Or at least that’s how long it usually takes me to notice that my car’s paint doesn’t shimmer as brightly as it did. When you reply make sure that the old layer of wax is completely gone because any remaining wax will act as a barrier against the new layer of wax you want to apply.

Maintaining the Shine After Waxing

Use the least powerful detergent to wash your car between waxes.

Between waxes, you want to maintain the luster of your paint by washing it with the least powerful detergent you can find. This will get rid of surface dirt and imperfections without affecting the wax you applied too much. Then rinse the surface with good clean water (avoid hard water at all costs). Finally, dry your car off with a towel that’s good at soaking up water, like a shammy.

How Often to Wax Your Car

You should wax your car once every six months.

You don’t want to wax your car too often. This is the mistake I made with my second car when I was in high school. Instead, you want to apply wax to your car about every quarter or so. How often you should wax also depends on the type of wax you’re using. If you bought wax, this should be indicated on the product label.

Why Wax Fades

It’s a catch-22, isn’t it? You want to maintain the beauty of your car’s shine. So, you wash in between waxes. And the more you wash, the more the wax fades.

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Wax also burns off in the heat of the sun the same way a lit candle melts down by the heat of the flame. Then you go back and wax your car some more. But you don’t want to over do it. If you care about the way your car looks, this can be an emotional rollercoaster.

I started washing and waxing my cars when I was eighteen. When I could no longer deal with the emotional rollercoaster, I let professionals handle it.