DIY Auto Detailing: How to Wax a Car, and How Often

Although it might seem counter intuitive at first, frequent car washing and waxing is actually the best way to ensure the paint stays bright for years to come. When wondering how often wax cars, it’s a popular belief that constantly wiping the vehicle down will make the paint wear down faster, but this is not true–as long as you use the right products for your vehicle and use them correctly.

How to Wash a Car

WashingBlueCarFor the most part, standard gentle soap and water will suffice. As far as products go, to know how to wash a car, you must know a few simple rules:

Keep cool
At all times, ensure the car is parked in a shady, cool place while you’re washing and waxing. There are a few reasons for this. For one, if your local water is hard, meaning that it has a high amount of mineral density, you’ll note that the paint finish has spots once it dries. This is especially common under the hot sun.

Additionally, most car waxes these days are polymer-based and therefore, friendlier with the sun. However, they are much easier to use if they are applied to a cooler surface. Whenever you’re working on the vehicle, you should ensure the surface can be touched for a prolonged period without burning yourself.

Microfiber towels
Keep some microfiber towels nearby while you’re washing your vehicle. These can also be handy for applying and removing car wax. Microfiber towels are made with a much softer material than typical towels made with chamois or cotton. Such towels could end up marring the finish of the paint, leaving ruts or scratches behind that only worsen over time.

Of course, you must still provide special care to your microfiber towels. They must be washed alone, separate from any other laundry–especially from cotton towels that commonly produce lint. Avoid fabric softener, and use hot water with an additional rinse cycle to ensure a thorough cleansing. In the dryer, use a low-heat tumble setting. Finally, when they begin to produce lint, use the microfiber towels for polishing wheels and exhaust pipe tips.

Learn how to wax a car and how often to wax a car
A simple four-step process ensures your car’s paint will shine for many years to come: wash, clean, polish, wax. To prevent any unnecessary damage to the vehicle, it’s important to ensure you’re always using the right products for the current stage of the process.

How to Wax a Car

shinningupcarExperts commonly recommend that you should apply a car wax to your vehicle once every three months at the least. Some kinds of wax are made to work more often than that. For those who are obsessed with maintaining the perfect wax finish, that might even include products meant to be used every few days.

For protection that lasts a longer period of time, you’ll want to opt for paste or liquid waxes. These are meant to last up to four months if the car is protected from harsh weather elements and kept inside a garage.

If you decide on a paste or liquid wax, use small overlapping circular strokes with a microfiber towel or pad. Focus on just one part of the vehicle at a time. Just like you would wash or polish the vehicle, fold down a microfiber into fourths and remove the wax after applying it. Use the opposite side of the towel to pick up any remaining residue.

If you’re opting for a spray wax, you’ll be done much more quickly but need to apply it more often than you would with paste or liquid waxes. Experts generally suggest that a spray wax should be applied to help enhance a paste or liquid wax job. Others say that they should be used once a month, while others still say twice every week.

How Often to Wax a Car

Even though most people have their own ideas on the frequency and scheduling of cleaning and waxing a vehicle, there are no firm promises made by manufacturers. As such, it can often be a good idea to stick to the general rule of thumb of waxing once per three month period.

With these tips, you will be able to clean and wash your vehicle without scrapes or scuffs. Your mileage may vary as far as frequency is concerned, of course; cars exposed to harsh weather elements, such as dirt, snow, salt or lots of rain, should be waxed more frequently.


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  • is it ok to apply paste and spray carnuba waxes as you said but from two different manufacturers?

    • Yes, that is OK!

  • Thank you, that was a very helpful and simple explanation and instructions. Thanks for keeping it simple! I’m looking forward to washing, drying, polishing, and waxing my newly purchased 2011 Audi Quattro a4 with your recommendations and instructions freshly in my mind.

  • Bolches yarboclos

  • I did steps 1-3 but it rained before I could wax. Can I repolish and wax or should I wash again and polish then wax or just rewash and wax!? Thank you

    • If you haven’t driven yet you should be fine to just wash it off and give it a light polish. Let us know if you have any other questions!

      • Thanks so much for the reply muchos appreciados. So I went back out and used a qd spray and wiped it down then used canuba spray wax. The wax helped overall situation come together better but I have ordered a cutting hand pad for the next try in a cpl months. I now understand the importance of the stages and am confident I can polish it out better next time. Regards