Will Washing My Car Remove the Wax? (Proper Methods)

Image Credit: Wonderlane via Flickr

Image Credit: Wonderlane via Flickr

Will Washing My Car Remove the Wax? (Proper Methods)


A car wash and wax help to preserve the car paint and external parts while making them look their best. Unless you carefully select the items used for car washes, the wax could come off quickly due to washing. That is why so many places offer a car wash and car wax service in the same visit.

Unfortunately, the quality of the wash and car wax is relatively limited in automated car washes. The same is true of the soap and car wax used in self-serve car washes. But you still can protect the car’s paint by ensuring a proper job is done by a car detailing service.

Will Washing My Car Remove The Wax?

Any kind of mildly abrasive action on the waxed and painted surfaces of your car or another vehicle will remove wax over time. So the short answer is that yes, washing your car will remove the wax.

How quickly the wax comes off depends on how you wash your car. A handwash with carefully selected products can preserve the wax longer than using an automated was. But an automated wash could use harsh chemicals that can strip wax from your paint.

You can wash your car by hand and use a non-abrasive cloth or wash mitt. You also can use clean water and soap that does not contain pumice or other materials that could remove wax.

Can you wash a car that has been waxed?

You can and should wash a car that has been waxed. How soon after the initial waxing depends on how dirty your vehicle has gotten in a short time and the materials used to wash it.

If you have a soft microfiber cloth or wash mitt and do not use abrasive detergent, you could give your vehicle a car wash within a day. Much depends on the type of wax used and your choice of cleaning products to do the wash.

If you use a soap that has a neutral pH balance and you are careful with the washcloth or wash mitt, you could wash a car as soon as the wax has been set. If the water is beading on the surface of the car’s paint, then the wax is doing its job.


Does pressure washing remove wax?

A pressure washer that is not blasting a very strong spray of water will not remove wax from your car. If you adjust the spray to its maximum pressure, that might cause wax removal. And if you are washing formula that includes wax stripper, that definitely would remove the wax from your car’s clear coat.

Pressure washing could remove wax due to the strong chemicals that typically are used in self-serve car washes. A pressure washer that is located in a self-serve car wash stands a better chance of stripping wax from your car. Many self-serve car washes provide users with a washing mixture that will strip away wax, tar, and other substances.

The brushes that often accompany the high-pressure washers in self-serve car washes also can remove wax. Even foam scrubbers can remove wax. And if the washing solution is designed to strip wax, it will do it. That could help if you intend to do your own car detailing.

If you use your own pressure washing gear, you can use relatively light pressure and pH-neutral soap to help prevent was removal. You can scrub the bad spots with a very soft cloth

How long after a wax should you wash your car?

Wax generally does not have a curing time and could be washed carefully within hours of the initial application. If you were to wash and wax your car and then take it for a drive, it might collect bug guts and other things. That could cause you to do a quick wash just after you finished with the car waxing.

A fresh coat of wax should provide ample paint protection against most commonly encountered contaminants. The car wax also should make it easier for you to remove bird droppings and other things that you do not want on your car.


Will automatic car washes remove wax?

Because they have to remove a variety of contaminants from your vehicle’s exterior, the chemicals and buffering materials used by an automated car wash could remove wax from your car’s paint.

An automatic car wash treats every vehicle the same with just some minor adjustments based on the type of wash that you choose. You have no control over the types of detergents and other cleaning agents used. And the materials used on the rollers and agitation systems that are designed to remove dirt and other materials easily could strip away the car wax.

Does a touchless automatic car wash remove wax?

Touchless automatic car washes will do a better job of preserving the wax on your car’s paint than an automatic wash that uses brushes and agitation to remove dirt, tar, and other substances.

Much depends on the types of chemicals used by the touchless car wash and how well the car wax was applied. An automatic wash that uses very high pressure and chemicals that are designed to remove tar, bug guts, and other contaminants also will remove wax.

A touchless automatic wash likely uses a pressure washer to remove the worst of the dirt and grime. A pressure washer also helps to wash dirt out of crevices and small spaces on your vehicle. But that same action could remove wax and likely will. That is why so many car washes spray wax onto the car when done with the wash and prior to the drying cycle.

Does wax come off after a car wash?

If you are careful and do not put too much pressure on the painted surfaces, the car wax can last beyond one or more car washes. Unless your vehicle has gotten dirty from bugs, precipitation, or other driving conditions, it should not need a wash right away.

A good rule of thumb is to give your car a wash every two weeks. That can help to prevent excessive buildup of dirt, grime, and other substances that could cause the was to deteriorate more rapidly.

You can tell if your car’s paint still has was protection by closely watching how water reacts when applied. You can spray a small amount onto the paint. If the water forms beads on top of the paint, the car wax is doing its job.

Does water remove car wax?

Water does not remove car wax. That is because water does not contain anything that is abrasive. It also does not contain caustic chemicals that could remove wax.

It is when you add ingredients to water that you run the risk of causing the wax to come off of the car’s paint. Wax removal is caused by abrasion and chemical removal. So plain water will not remove car wax.

Water also might strip away wax if you use a pressure washer at its maximum settings. A very hard jet of water sprayed onto the car’s finish could remove the showroom shine as well as any dirt or grime.

When you use microfiber towels and hand washing to get at the very dirty spots, you can preserve the existing car wax a lot better. If one or two spots are especially bad, some spray wax can help to touch it up.


How do I maintain my car after waxing?

The best way to maintain your car after waxing is to prevent it from getting dirty right away. Parking your car in a garage or other covered space will help to keep birds from leaving droppings on the painted surfaces. That also can help to keep rainfall or other precipitation from leaving water spots on your vehicle.

You should wash your vehicle about every two weeks to keep the clear coat and paint looking their best. You should not use harsh chemicals or abrasive washcloths because they could remove the wax that is supposed to give your car its paint protection.

You could use spray carnauba wax to touch up minor spots that become dirty over time. Just a little car maintenance on the exterior can help you to maintain a quality paint job.

What should I wash my car with?

What you should wash your vehicle with depends on the extent of cleaning that you intend to do. If it has been a while since your vehicle underwent a thorough car detailing, you might want to remove the wax and wash the painted surfaces thoroughly. That will help to prepare it for a new coat of carnauba wax and paint sealant.

It helps greatly to use clean water that you have placed into a large bucket. You can add liquid soap that has a neutral pH balance and will not remove excessive amounts of wax from the paint job. If you want wax removed, a clay bar will help to do that and can assist with any car detailing.

The most important thing to remember is to use clean and nonabraisve products. That will help to protect the paint and preserve the wax.

Car Wash Soap Vs Dish Soap

You could save a little money on a car wash by using dish detergent instead of dedicated car wash soap. The initial results would look good, but they would be deceptive.

That is because dish soap contains abrasives that are intended to help remove stubborn items clinging to pans, dishes, and utensils. When you use dishwashing liquid, it will remove some of the clear coat as well as the wax. The more you use it, the more it affects the surface of the paint.

A dedicated car wash soap is designed to give you a truly clean car and protect the paint finish. You can mix it with a solution for pressurized washing and auto detailing. You also can mix it with a bucket of warm water and apply the sudsy solution onto your car and its paint.

How to wash a car without removing wax

You can wash your vehicle frequently without removing the wax by using clean water, car wash soap, and microfiber towels. You could use a pressure system with light to medium pressure. But you have to avoid using high pressure at all times.

The car wash soap will help to loosen and remove dirt and very stubborn contaminants like dried bird droppings and bug guts. The microfiber towels will do a great job of getting your car clean while hand washing it. You can apply medium pressure on the dirtiest spots and get them very clean without removing the wax.

Hand washing also works great. You would need to fill one or two buckets with clean water mixed with car wash soap. You can use the microfiber towels to apply the soapy water and give the painted surfaces

You would not need a clay bar unless you intended to remove the wax after the wash. You might want to do that so that you can get a good view of the waxed surface while it is clean from the wash.

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From the very first car that you own up through the last, you can help to keep it looking its best by using some basic ingredients to provide the best possible wash and wax. Car detailing products can be costly to acquire. But the best thing to keep your car looking great is a good wash that will not strip away the wax and help to protect the finish.

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