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Can You Wax a Car Without Washing It First?

Washing and waxing your car regularly are essential for car maintenance. But either of these can take up quite a lot of time. So can you forego the wash and go straight to waxing to achieve that brand-new glow?

Washing the car before waxing it

You should never wax your car without washing and allowing it to dry first. Applying wax on an unwashed car can lead to scratches from dirt on your car’s surface. If you want to save time, you can use a mechanical buffer instead of waxing manually.

Further in this article, we will discuss how to properly wax your car so you can keep it looking brand new.

How To Properly Wax Your Car

Man doing the proper car waxing

Waxing your car properly involves using the right tools, doing it in the right place (at the right temperature), and knowing how often to repeat the process. It is a meticulous task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or too time-consuming, as long as you know exactly what to do.

To properly wax your car, you should:

  • Do it indoors
  • Wash and dry your car before waxing
  • Use a clean applicator
  • Apply appropriate, high-quality wax
  • Use a mechanical buffer

By doing these, you will be able to achieve a good, professional shine that can last for up to several months. This means you not only save time but also maximize your resources.

Do It Indoors

The first thing to remember when waxing is it’s best to do it indoors. This way, you are not exposed to direct sunlight, dust, or even the occasional bird poop. All these will affect how easily you can apply the wax and buff, as well as how good the finish will be.

When applying wax in direct sunlight, the heat will dry your wax up too quickly, making it tricky to buff, especially if you’re doing so manually. Plus, once the wax has dried, it may not adhere to your car’s paint as smoothly as it should.

If you don’t have an indoor garage, you can pitch a makeshift tent using a large tarp. This will give you plenty of shade from sunlight and unexpected rain. If it’s too hot out, consider waxing your car later in the day when it’s cooler. Even if you don’t get direct sunlight, the high temperature will make waxing harder than it should be.

Wash and Dry Your Car Before Waxing

A wash is absolutely necessary before any waxing job. This way, you will be able to get rid of dried-up dirt that has accumulated on the surface of your car. Neglecting to wash your car first will not only mess up the waxing job, but can even damage your car, especially if you haven’t cleaned your car in a long time or if there’s a lot of dried mud on it.

Tiny dirt particles on the surface of your car may look harmless, but they can actually be quite abrasive. And when they get onto your waxing pad or mechanical buffer, they can cause some mean scratches or swirls on the car’s paint. Larger particles can create even bigger, deeper damage.

If you want to make washing quick, try to maintain a regular washing schedule to avoid accumulating too much dirt, especially in rainy seasons. A relatively clean car is easier and quicker to wash.

After you’ve washed the car, be sure to let it dry thoroughly before applying wax. Applying wax on a wet surface will prevent the wax from adhering.

Use a Clean Applicator

Using an applicator that’s not clean can also be abrasive to your car. It can also leave unpleasant streaks that make polishing take longer than necessary.

Before proceeding, make sure that you are using a clean wax pad to apply the wax or a clean microfiber cloth for manual buffing. Most of us reuse our tools, and that’s perfectly fine and practical. Just make sure that these have been washed beforehand and are clean and dry when you need to use them.

Apply Appropriate, High-Quality Wax

It can be confusing to decide which car wax to use with so many different options. Not all wax products are the same. You’ll want to pick the right product for you and your car depending on your car’s paintwork, color, and how easy the product is to use.

The easiest wax products to use are those that come in spray bottles. However, most car owners agree that wax products in paste form are often of better quality. Also, if your car is black, it will show dirt, marks, and scratches more easily, in which case you will benefit from a wax that is specially formulated for your car’s paintwork.

First published on Sep 14, 2022 by

If you are unsure what product to buy, ask your car’s manufacturer or get the advice of a professional to help you out.

In addition to choosing good-quality wax, make sure that you apply just enough. Putting too much wax will make it more difficult and time-consuming to polish. You will only end up wasting the product–more wax doesn’t mean shinier.

Use a Mechanical Buffer

If you want to save time plus make your car shine like a pro, consider using a mechanical buffer instead of manually waxing your car. However, don’t use one if your car has too many crevices, because it will be challenging to work on those with an electrical buffer.

Before using an electrical buffer, make sure that you are already comfortable using one, or else you may end up damaging your car.

One pro tip to remember when using a mechanical buffer is to choose a random orbital buffer. These buffers do not move in a uniform circular motion, which can cause burn marks on your car’s panels when done with a great deal of pressure. These marks may be permanent in many cases, so it is best to avoid them altogether.


Waxing your car makes it look better and protects it from the inevitable scratch here and there. However, the way you wax your vehicle matters a great deal. Remember to always wash your car and let it dry completely before applying wax. It is also best to always apply high-quality wax indoors using clean tools if you want to wax your car like a pro.

Related Articles

How To Clean Car Wax Applicator Pads

How to Tell When the Car Wax is Dry

Can You Still Buff a Car in the Rain?

How Long Should Paint Cure Before Polishing?

CarCareReport dot com first published this article on Sep 14, 2022..

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