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Basically, in every other auto detailing or car cleaning forum, you will come across dozens of individuals wondering, “Does pressure washing remove wax from the paint?”
Pressure washers are significantly powerful machines that can be incredibly beneficial for several purposes, including washing dirt off your cars. There have been many misconceptions regarding whether pressure washing protects the wax and paint coatings on vehicles.
Nonetheless, I’m here to answer your questions and clear up your confusion.
Pressure washing does not remove the sealant or wax on your car unless you use it at considerably high pressure. As long as the PSI of the pressure washer is kept below 2000 (approximately) and you use a fan-type nozzle at around 2ft away from your car at a 45 degrees angle, both the paint coating and wax will stay fine.
There are two classes of people; one, who worry about eradicating paint protection, and the others who are searching for ways to eliminate old paint coats and waxes. Here, I focus on the first category of people and talk about how you can use a pressure washer correctly to clean your car without removing wax from the paint or chipping off the paint from it.
Do Pressure Washers Remove Wax from the Paint?
Pressure washers, also known as jet washers, work in a certain way. They are named so because of their ability to spray water at incredibly high pressure. You might have often heard that pressure washers can do all sorts of bad and disastrous things to wax and paint.
However, there are certain tricks to using a pressure washer on your car. As long as you abide by the essential tips and tricks, a pressure washer can be safe to use on cars and clearly won’t remove the wax or sealants.
The entire purpose of pressure washing is to eliminate all the dirt, grime, and dust from your car. Sealants and waxes aren’t water-soluble, meaning that water will not degrade the wax nor cause the wax to break down.
Thus, even if the water from pressure washing makes contact with the wax, it won’t lead the wax to wash away unless you actually want to remove the wax, for which case there are additional products needed.
What About Too-High Pressure Washers?
Coming back to pressure washing, it is unlikely for the wax or any other sealant to come off. The only scenario in which the wax might be negatively affected is when you use the pressure washer at a higher pressure.
Very high pressure of water is most likely going to cause significant damage to your car’s paintwork. It is best to use your pressure washer from afar because if the pressure somehow catches a scuff or a stone chip, it will possibly lift off the paint on your car.
Sometimes, high pressure or frequent use of a jet washer might remove some or most of the wax, to the extent that your car’s body might become a bit dull and give off a matte finish. But then again, this primarily depends on the quality of the paint used on your car. In such cases, you might need to rewax the paintwork to make it shiny and glossy again.
How Much Pressure is Safe to Use?
The pressure level of the pressure washer is one of the most essential things you need to consider to prevent the wax or paint coating from being severely damaged. The pressure that is typically safe to use on the paint can be determined from a term known as PSI, which stands for “pounds per square inch.”
This simple unit of measurement describes the pressure with which the water sprays at the car’s surface. It is essential to know how much pressure is safe to use and what amount of pressure you are actually using. Different pressure washer machines come with varying values of PSI.
Usually, a pressure washing machine between 1400-2000 PSI ranges is deemed sufficient to eradicate the dirt or dust on your car without removing wax from the paint or ruining the paintwork.
A pressure washer with a higher PSI level is clearly not recommended. It may damage the paintwork and remove the wax or sealants. Before you buy a pressure washer, you should check its PSI online.
However, suppose you already have a pressure washer with a higher PSI than the recommended range. In that case, you can always set it at a lower value and use a correct nozzle to mitigate the risk of damage.
Which Nozzle Type Should You Use?
It is also exceptionally vital for you to use the correct type of nozzle on your pressure washing machine. If you use the wrong nozzle type, it will most likely escalate the chances of damaging your car by raising the PSI to a hazardous level.
A narrow nozzle would cluster the spray of water to a tiny surface area and thus build more pressure. Though narrow nozzles would be effective for cleaning, they are naturally harmful to the paintwork and coating, such as wax or sealant.
On the contrary, fan-type nozzles prove to be the safest method for pressure washing. With this nozzle, the water will typically apply to a more substantial surface area and reduce water pressure.
Refrain From Holding the Nozzle Too Close
For starters, you mustn’t hold the nozzle of your pressure washer too close to the car’s paintwork. Doing this will give off significantly high water pressure, which will directly hit your car’s surface and affect the wax negatively. Moreover, this will possibly damage the clear coating on your car.
While washing, you must ideally hold the nozzle at a 45-degree angle, at least around 2ft away from your car.
With this angle, all the dirt, dust, and grime can be washed off the paint and coat rather than pushed into it. This distance level will keep the pressure from getting too high where it becomes harmful for the clear coat, wax, or paint on your car.
Essential Tips on How to Use a Pressure Washer
Here are some helpful tips you should consider while using a pressure washer on your car:
- Use a long hose so that it eliminates the need of lugging your pressure washer around your car.
- Never ever point the pressure washer directly at the paintwork while turning it on. It is always better to point it face down, towards the ground, and away from your car.
- Use a fan-type nozzle that is 5-10 cm wide at the mouth.
- Never ever use a pressure washing machine on the car’s engine bay or interior.
- Position and hold the nozzle at an angle of 45 degrees to wash the dirt and dust off the surface. This direction will prevent the water spray from pushing into the paintwork.
- Try to wash your car on a concrete surface instead of gravel. Concrete surfaces will help spray up onto the car’s paintwork while using the pressure washing machine.
Related: Here are my recommendations for the best car detailing pressure washers.
I hope that I helped you with your question. I wrote it according to my experience and also did a deep research.
The most important thing is to learn the proper washing technique and then wash the car. Remember, you don’t use a pressure washer alone to wash all the dirt. Together with a pressure washer, you should use high-quality chemicals such as snow foams and washing soaps. Then, you’ll get the best results, without the need of using too much pressure on your pressure washer.