Get Started with Cleaner Wax: A Beginner’s Guide

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cleaner wax

There is one type of car wax that can be used to fix small paint imperfections and protect your car. It’s like a 2-in-1 product. It’s called cleaner wax. If you’ve never heard of it, you might want to read on to discover what is cleaner wax and how you can use it to enhance your car’s paint.

Key Takeaways:

  • Cleaner wax is a 2-in-1 product that contains both abrasive compounds and wax compounds. That way, it removes paint imperfections and protects the clear coat in one step.
  • Cleaner wax is best for people who don’t have too much time detailing their cars and don’t need a showroom-looking car but still want to make it shiny and appealing.
  • The best cleaner wax is Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Cleaner Wax.

What Is Cleaner Wax?

Cleaner wax is a product that combines both abrasive and wax compounds. The abrasive component of cleaner wax helps to remove minor swirl marks, oxidation, and scratches from your car’s finish. The wax components then provide a layer of protection and shine to the vehicle’s paint.

So, it’s a kind of a mix between polishes and waxes. It’ll remove some imperfections from the clear coat and also provide additional protection against UV rays, acid rain, bird droppings, and other contaminants that may harm your car’s paint.

To conclude, cleaner waxes are all-in-one products that can save you time and money compared to buying separate products for polishing and waxing your car.

How Do Cleaner Waxes Work?

Cleaner waxes work by using abrasives to remove surface contaminants such as light oxidation and minor scratches from the finish. This abrasive compound is what sets cleaner wax apart from other typical waxes that only provide a protective layer.

After the abrasives have done their work, the wax components of cleaner waxes are left on the surface, providing a layer of protection and additional shine to the car. Also, the wax will fill the tiniest imperfections in the paint, leaving a smooth, hydrophobic, and glossy finish.

Who Should Use Cleaner Waxes?

Cleaner waxes are perfect for you if you’re new to car detailing or if you want to slightly improve the condition of your car’s paint without putting in a lot of effort.

However, if you want to achieve a top-notch finish and remove any major imperfections from the paint, cleaner wax won’t be enough. Dedicated polishes will provide much better results for more severe paint imperfections, and regular waxes will give you a much better shine and protection.

Let me conclude this:

  • If you’re a beginner or weekend warrior who wants an easy way to improve the appearance of your car without expecting top-notch results, cleaner wax may be the perfect choice for you.
  • If you want to achieve a more professional finish, you should probably seek professional detailing services.

Don’t expect miracles from cleaner waxes, especially if your car’s paint is pretty dirty and requires paint decontamination procedures. Nothing can replace a good old-school thorough auto detailing.

How To Apply Cleaner Wax On Your Car?

I’ll try to keep it extremely simple since it’s pretty easy to apply cleaner waxes on your vehicle.

  • Step 1: Wash and dry your car thoroughly by using proper detailing techniques.
  • Step 2: Shake the cleaner wax bottle well to ensure that the product is well mixed (if you use paste cleaner wax, you can skip this step).
  • Step 3: Apply a small amount of cleaner wax to a foam applicator pad. You only need a few drops, so don’t pour too much product because it will be hard to spread it evenly across the surface.
  • Step 4: Working on a tiny section at a time, apply the cleaner wax to the car’s paint in circular motions. Don’t apply too much pressure, and make sure that the whole section is covered evenly.
  • Step 5: Let the cleaner wax haze for 1-2 minutes.
  • Step 6: Use a clean and soft microfiber cloth to buff off the haze. Gently press the microfiber cloth on the vehicle and work in circular motions to ensure that the surface is smooth and shiny.
  • Step 7: Repeat the process on other sections, and when you’re finished, don’t expose the car to rain or water for a few hours. That’ll allow the wax to bond to the clear coat completely.

And guys, that’s it! As you can see above, applying cleaner waxes is simple, and I think that anyone can do it with simple guidance. Your car should now have a smooth, shiny finish.

The Best Cleaner Waxes On The Market

Here are my favorite cleaner waxes that you can find on the market.

1. Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax

Meguiar’s Professional Cleaner Wax M0616 - Swirl and Scratch Remover, Car Polish, and Car Wax in...
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If you’re in search of a car cleaner wax, Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax is my number 1 recommendation. It helps you to enhance the shine of your car, remove embedded dirt, and eliminate small swirls.

The application process is easy, just how it should be, and the best thing about Meguiar’s Cleaner Wax is that it’s pretty affordable. Additionally, you can also pick between paste and liquid cleaner wax, which is fantastic. And if you’re wondering which one to choose, I highly suggest using a liquid one.


  • Easy application and removal process
  • Affordable price
  • Successfully removes light surface scratches and light oxidation


  • Average in terms of the depth and shine it provides to the color

2. Chemical Guys Slick Finish Cleaner Wax

Chemical Guys WAC20616 Slick Finish Cleaner Wax Light Paint Cleanser & Brilliant Shine Carnauba Wax,...
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Chemical Guys Slick Finish Cleaner Wax is another fantastic cleaner wax that you can use on your vehicle to remove light swirl marks and scratches but also protect your car’s paint. It has real Brazilian carnauba wax inside, which ensures long-lasting protection for your vehicle.

The micro-abrasives in this wax are great, and removing light swirls, stains, oxidation, and other minor imperfections from the paintwork won’t be a problem.

However, its price is more than two times higher when compared to Meguiar’s cleaner wax, so if budget is your concern, this may be a bit too expensive for you. However, since there’s a real carnauba wax in this one, it’s still a better choice if you want a better shine and gloss for your vehicle.


  • Contains real Brazilian carnauba wax
  • Offers pretty good shine to your car


  • It’s expensive

3. 3M One-Step Cleaner Wax

3m one step cleaner wax

3M One Step Cleaner Wax is another fantastic product that you can use to polish and protect your car’s paint. 3M is an extremely reputable company, and all of its products are fantastic. The best proof of that is that most boat owners like to use their products (including this cleaner wax) to protect their boats and yachts.

It takes some time to apply and buff out this cleaner wax, but the result is fantastic. I even achieved a better shine with this product than with some car waxes, which is outstanding.

When it comes to pricing, it’s somewhere in the middle between Meguiar’s and Chemical Guys, but I think it’s justified since it has a bit better abrasives than both of its competitors, so you can expect more swirl marks and scratches to get removed.


  • Fantastic shine and gloss
  • Gentle yet effective


  • It’s harder to buff out

Frequently Asked Questions

Is cleaner wax the same as a glaze?

No, cleaner waxes contain both abrasives and waxes, which can remove minor paint imperfections and protect your car’s paint. Glazes only cover scratches and offer protection; they don’t fix them.

Is cleaner wax the same as a polish?

No, cleaner wax also protects the paint, as opposed to polishes that only fix paint imperfections. However, the abrasives in cleaner waxes aren’t as strong as those found in polish compounds.

When should I use a cleaner wax?

If you don’t have too much time to detail your car, it has light imperfections such as swirl marks and light scratches, and it’s not shiny anymore; you can use cleaner wax. The end result will be shiny and protected paint.

What’s the difference between wax and cleaner wax?

Wax only contains compounds (natural or synthetic) that will protect the finish from harmful factors, while cleaner wax also contains abrasives that clean, restore, and protect the paint at the same time.

Is cleaner wax safe for a clear coat?

Since cleaner waxes aren’t very abrasive, they’re extremely safe for almost any clear coat, even for thinner ones. And that’s especially true if you apply them by hand.

Can I put wax over cleaner wax?

Technically, you can, but I wouldn’t do it since the wax may not be able to bond properly since there’s already some wax on the paint.

Is using cleaner wax better than polishing and waxing?

No. Cleaner waxes are just a shortcut for people who lack the time or don’t want to go through full auto detailing steps to correct and protect the paint. But the results can’t even be compared.

Bottom Line

Cleaner waxes are great products, but they’re not for everyone. If you really like to take care of your car thoroughly, I think that you should skip those products. Cleaner waxes are only a shortcut or a replacement for proper detailing techniques such as compounding, polishing, and waxing.

But again, if you’re the type of person who’s in a rush, using cleaner waxes is still a fantastic choice to get your car nice and shiny and protected from various harmful factors that damage the car’s finish.

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