A freshly waxed car is not only radiant – it is also well protected against dirt, sun, rain or road salt. Treating your car with a car wax after washing it gives the paintwork a beautiful shine and seals it. This ensures that it does not get dirty again so quickly.

Using car wax to seal the car is one of the most effective and popular ways to protect the car paint from environmental effects. Car waxing is not even difficult. With the right instructions, anyone can wax their car themselves for optimal protection and shine.

Car wax instructions – How to keep the paint stable

To keep your car attractive for a long time, it often requires a little more work than just the biannual drive through the car wash. We seal car paint with wax, but this sealant can suffer from various environmental influences. In winter, road salt attacks the surface and in summer direct sunlight makes the wax so soft that insects and plant pollen get stuck on it. Experts recommend renewing the car wax at least twice a year.

Car wax preparation

Before you can wax the car, you need to remove the old wax layer and the paint surface must be prepared accordingly. With the help of wax removers or paint cleaners, you free the surface from any dirt. If the paintwork is in poor condition, polish it before waxing the car.

If you want to avoid the expensive market products, you can use a cheaper household dish soap-water mixture to de-grease the paintwork. However, dish soap can be harsh and can dry out the paintwork of your car. It should also not come into contact with the rubber seals on doors and windows. Isopropanol was also recommended, but it is not only highly flammable but also very harmful to the environment. A gentle but thorough wash with soap should therefore remove the old seal.

Depending on the condition of the paintwork, the use of detailing clay bars, pre-wax cleaners or even a mild paint polish should be considered before waxing the car again. Dedicated wax cleaners can also be safely applied on plastic trims. This provides a promising basis for the wax application, so it bonds with the underneath layers properly. However, before applying any pre-wax products, thoroughly wash your car with a non-drying soap or shampoo and dry the exterior completely.

Now caution is required because the unsealed paint is susceptible to environmental influences such as pollen and bird droppings.

Applying car wax

Although car wax consists largely of natural, non-toxic products, some products also contain ingredients that can damage the skin. That is why disposable gloves are part of the basic equipment for car waxing. The wax must be applied sparingly to a soft foam applicator and spread on the paintwork in tight circular movements. Parts made of plastic and rubber must not come into contact with the wax; they must be masked beforehand.

The car wax is usually applied with a foam applicator machine. Manufacturers of carnauba wax often advertise with an application by hand. This is possible but not as economical as using an applicator. The application of wax by hand is done in a wafer-thin layer, either in circular movements or in a crosswise pattern (vertical and horizontal lines).

Allow to dry

After you have waxed the whole car, give the car wax some time to dry. The drying time depends on many factors. The type of car wax, humidity and temperature influence the drying time (few minutes to hours). At cold temperatures, the wax needs longer to dry. The opposite is the case with warm temperatures.

With the so-called finger wipe test, you can determine whether you can already remove the wax (we will explain below).

After the car wax has dried long enough, you can remove the excess with a polishing cloth. Thanks to the thin wax application, removing the wax should be easy.

The swipe test

How do you know when to polish the dried wax layer? You can check this with the finger wipe test.

  • Wrap a microfiber cloth around the end of your finger.
  • Wipe over the waxed paint as you would a touch screen.

If you see a smear-free strip, you can begin polishing. If you see an oily, greasy strip, you need to wait.

No worries with residues

When beginners apply wax, they are frightened at first: the surface looks terrible; it has ruined the paint; they think. Don’t worry: The sealant must first dry for a few hours so that solvents and emulsifiers can separate from the wax and evaporate. The finger wipe test provides information about whether you can re-wipe the sealant. Gently wipe the surface with your finger. If a shiny surface remains, you can wipe the residues off with a soft cloth. And lo-and-behold: the paint shines as if it has just been freshly applied.

Hard wax offers lasting protection

In many car washes, the so-called “hot wax” is standard for the more expensive wash programs. After the car has been shampooed, brushed, showered, and finally dried, they spray a thin layer of washing wax. However, the benefit and durability of the hot wax from the car wash are far less than if the car is thoroughly rubbed by hand with hard wax. This also applies to other commercially available spray waxes. Although the application with sprays takes much less time, the result is less durable. Those who value longer lasting protection should therefore choose hard wax. You can orientate yourself on the procedure of the car wash below.

  • Before applying the car wax, you must wash the car; This not only removes the dirt but also the old wax layer. Older wax layers can be de-greased with pre-wax removers after washing and drying. If the paintwork has already become a little dull over time, it is also advisable to polish it properly before applying the wax.
  • You can apply the wax itself with a special polishing pad, a foam sponge applicator or just with your hands. It doesn’t matter whether it is applied in cross-shaped movements, i.e. first transverse and then longitudinal movements, or in a circle.
  • Afterwards, wait – until the wax has dried and the solvents in it have evaporated. This can take a few minutes or hours; They usually give exact details of the waiting time on the packaging.
  • A simple test reveals whether the wax layer is dry: If a glossy surface remains after a finger wipe over the paint, you can get back to work. You must remove the wax residues with a clean cloth.

Important: Car wax is not harmful to health, but as a precaution you should put on gloves before applying it. It is also best to wax one part of the car after the other and not the whole car at once. One should pay attention that you do not treat the plastic and rubber parts. The wax can damage or stain them – so if in doubt, mask them off beforehand. Also, the windows should not be waxed, there are special sealants for the glass surfaces, which can be applied to the mirrors.

What should one pay attention to when buying wax?

To find the right one from the large selection of car waxes, observe some points.

Protective effect

Not all car waxes protect against every adverse environmental impact. It is important to choose a wax that protects the paint from harmful UV rays.

Gloss factor

Not every wax provides the same brilliant gloss. Here, however, the instructions on the packaging are not helpful; every manufacturer naturally promises the best result with its wax.


Anyone who values an environmentally clean product should inspect the ingredients and buy a natural wax. However, even these are usually not free of additives, solvents and emulsifiers.


The price differences for car waxes are vast; some are inexpensive, while others cost ten times as much. But more expensive does not always mean better!

What are the alternatives to car wax?

Besides car waxes, you can also find special paint sealants in specialist shops, which are usually sold under the name nano or ceramic sealant. These sealants work using tiny silicon particles that adhere to the surface of the vehicle. Unlike wax, which is only “on” the paint, the sealants bond with the paint. This way, they even out the minutest scratches. Therefore, the protection against dirt and environmental influences is even higher than with car wax. Water beads off much better on a nano-sealed car and it washes off a large part of the everyday dirt. However, these sealants are usually more expensive than car wax and do not provide the high gloss effect that a hard natural wax does.

How often should you wax your car?

How often you should wax your car is important for many car enthusiasts – applying car wax is time-consuming and labor-intensive, so some people want long intervals. But how do you measure them?

The rule of thumb for the application of car wax is: As long as rainwater beads off the car paint properly, you can skip the wax application. If the water only beads off poorly or not at all, you need to re-apply the wax protection.

But how often your car needs waxing also depends on individual circumstances. A wax coat on the car of a garage owner lasts longer than a carport user or a car parked on the street. This is because the car is continuously exposed to the weather outside. Understandably, a mileage-guzzler will need more care than a vehicle that is primarily used for short distances.

Many car drivers who like to take car care into their own hands assume that they should wax the car paint twice a year, in spring, when salt and grit have strongly added to the wax layer in winter – and before winter, to start the cold season with a fresh layer of wax.

A natural carnauba wax has a lifetime of about 3 months. However, there are also modern hybrid waxes which have a service life of 3 to 6 months.

Tips to wax your car by hand

  • If you want to wax your car by hand, you can prepare yourself for a physically demanding job.
  • After applying the wax layer, if the waxed areas look milky, rub a finger over them with light pressure. If the wax dissolves easily and without streaks, you can remove excess wax.
  • Use a soft microfiber cloth and wipe the wax off against the direction of the wax.
  • Since wax is difficult to remove after drying, it is advisable to work off the body panels – fenders, doors, hoods, roof – one by one.
  • The less dry the hard wax is, the easier it is to scrub off the excess layer.
  • The application of the wax can be simplified considerably if you do not work in direct sunlight and instead look for a spot in the shade.
  • Those who dislike the hours of drudgery can also order some hot wax in the car wash besides the normal washing cycle. However, this does not last as long as manually applied hard car wax.

Car wax – less is more

It may feel incorrect, but it’s very important when waxing a car. A good wax application is not necessarily visible. The smallest and thinnest layer is the best and most effective way to wax your car.

When you apply car wax to the paint surface, the solvents it contains evaporate. What remains are the solid components of the wax and a few oils. These oils prevent the wax from drying out too quickly and give the car wax time to build up a bond with the paint.

After the solvents have evaporated, we remove the excess wax with a microfiber cloth. The layer that forms a bond with the paint is always equally strong, no matter how thick we apply the wax.

The application of too much wax therefore does not result in a better protection or a longer service life, but is a waste of material. With a high-quality car wax, just a few grams are enough to wax an entire car.

Is car waxing useful?

Maybe you are now asking yourself whether the result is even worth the effort? We can answer this question with full conviction – yes. A car wax is a good way to protect your car.

Environmental influences like road salt, acidic rain, insect remains or bird droppings are effectively shielded by the car wax.

Another advantage of car wax is that we achieve a great shine. Because of the ingredients in the wax, it refracts the light towards the warm color spectrum. This makes the paint look softer and creates a great deep shine.

You cannot also miss the pearling lotus effect that car wax offers. The next time it rains, you will be thrilled with the ease with which the water rolls off your car.