How To Clean Car Wax Applicator Pads?

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guy cleaning applicator pads

I’ve often noticed folks on Reddit and other forums unsure about cleaning car wax applicator pads. Some even question if it’s necessary to clean them at all.

I want to clear up this confusion. Here’s how I wash my wax applicator pads, ensuring they’re always ready for use.

4 Steps on Cleaning Car Wax Applicator Pads

Here’s the exact process I follow when washing car wax applicator pads. While it might differ a bit from what you commonly find online, I’ve found this method ensures they’re always 100% clean, free from any lingering wax residue.

This cleaning method is versatile and effective for both microfiber and foam pads.

1. Soak Applicator Pads in APC and Water Mix

To start, mix some APC with water in a bucket. A 1:20 ratio should do the trick. Once you’ve got your mix ready, submerge all the applicator pads in the bucket and let them soak for about an hour.

APC is renowned for its ability to break down waxes and sealants with ease. I always prefer this step before moving on to dedicated cleaning products for the pads. Especially if a pad hasn’t been cleaned in a while, this APC and water mix becomes crucial. Trust me, pre-soaking truly simplifies the subsequent steps in the cleaning process.

2. Spray Pad Cleaner on The Pads

Next up, it’s time to use a dedicated pad cleaner. While dish soap can work in a pinch, I’ve consistently seen better results with specialized pad cleaners. I highly recommend that you use Griots Garage Microfiber and Foam Pad Cleaner.

Griot's Garage 11078 Micro Fiber and Foam Pad Cleaner 35oz, White
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After removing the pads from the APC and water mix, spray the pad cleaner directly onto them. Let it sit and work its magic for a few minutes. And don’t forget to spray both sides of the pads, ensuring the cleaner penetrates deeply.

3. Rinse Off With Warm Water

Once the pad cleaner has settled on the applicator pads for about 5-10 minutes, it’s time to give them a good rinse with warm water.

During this rinse, it’s essential to agitate the pads with your hands vigorously. This ensures all the grime, dust, and any lingering wax or sealant residue gets washed away.

A quick tip from my experience: rinse and squeeze the pads multiple times. A single wash might not get rid of all the residue. So, be thorough in this step.

4. Dry The Pads Before Use

It might seem like stating the obvious, but always ensure your wax applicator pads are completely dry before using them for any wax application. Using wet pads complicates the waxing process, making it challenging to achieve an even coat.

You can dampen them a little bit to ensure a more even application, but they shouldn’t be wet.

Why It’s Important To Clean Car Wax Applicator Pads

car wax applicator pad

Cleaning your car wax applicator pads, whether they’re foam or microfiber, is crucial for several reasons:

  • Performance: Clean pads ensure an even and smooth application of wax, leading to a better finish.
  • Longevity: Regular cleaning extends the life of your pads, saving you money in the long run.
  • Avoid Scratches: Dirt and debris trapped in a dirty pad can cause micro-scratches on your car’s paint when you’re trying to wax it.
  • Efficiency: Clean pads absorb and spread wax more effectively, meaning you use less product for the same result.
  • Hygiene: Over time, pads can become breeding grounds for bacteria if not cleaned. Regular cleaning keeps them hygienic.
  • Prevent Cross-Contamination: Using the same pad for different products without cleaning can mix residues, affecting the performance of the products.
  • Maintain Pad Texture: Keeping pads clean helps maintain their original texture, ensuring optimal performance with every use.


Can you wash car wax applicator pads in a washing machine?

Yes, you can wash car wax applicator pads in a washing machine. Opt for a warm wash setting, not hot, and use 2 ounces of pad cleaner instead of your regular laundry detergent.

Should a wax applicator pad be wet?

No, the wax applicator pad should be dry before you apply wax to your car. While you can slightly dampen the applicator, it shouldn’t be outright wet.

Can you reuse wax applicator pads?

Absolutely! Wax applicator pads can be reused, provided they’re cleaned regularly and remain in good condition without any rough edges that might harm the paint.

How long do wax pads last?

With proper care, foam and microfiber applicator pads can last for around 10 wax applications. Just ensure you clean them after each use.

Final Words

This method of cleaning car wax applicator pads is one I’ve relied on for years, and it’s never let me down.

While wax applicator pads are relatively inexpensive, there’s no need to buy a new one for every application.

I highly recommend checking out my guide on how to wax your car by hand. It’s the perfect complement to ensure your vehicle always shines at its best.

Also, if you don’t know which car wax to buy, check top car waxes on the market.

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