Here’s a question that confuses a lot of people when working with various liquid products – Which products should be allowed to dry before removing? This is a question we get almost daily in our Customer Care Center and it’s a topic we discuss, and repeat, during our Saturday Detailing 101 Classes. The answer is really quite simple, but the reasons behind the answer can be a bit more complex. Let’s look at the answer first.
All Meguiar's polishes, paint cleaners, cleaner/polishes and compounds should be wiped off while still wet.
All Meguiar’s waxes and sealants should always be allowed to dry fully before removal.
But why all the confusion?
Polishes, Paint Cleaners, Cleaner/Polishes & Compounds - wipe off while still wet
Products like paint cleaners (Ultimate Compound, ScratchX 2.0, etc), polishes (M07 Show Car Glaze, M05 New Car Glaze, Deep Crystal Polish, etc), cleaner/polishes (SwirlX, M80 Speed Glaze, M205 Ultra Finishing Polish, etc) and compounds (M105 Ultra Cut Compound, M85 Diamond Cut Compound, etc) only do their job when being worked against the paint.
In the case of a pure polish when you work them against the paint you’re pushing the rich polishing oils into the pores of the paint, nourishing it, enhancing the gloss and deepening the color. Simply wiping them on and letting them sit assumes that the product somehow does something on it’s own, that perhaps some reaction is taking place deep within the chemistry of the product. But it isn’t. Pure polishes need your help in order to get worked onto and into the paint.
The same holds true with paint cleaners and compounds, but to an even greater extent. These products are designed to physically remove defects below the surface of the paint, typically fine swirls, scratches or even sanding marks in the case of a compound. That process literally involves physically working an abrasive particle against the paint in order to level the paint and remove the defect. Scary as it may sound, the process isn’t terribly different from the act of sanding a piece of wood! Imagine what would happen if you set a sheet of sandpaper on a piece of wood and then let it sit for 10 minutes. If you’re expecting the sandpaper to reshape that piece of wood on its own, you’re in for a bit of a surprise. And the same holds true for paint cleaners, cleaner/polishes and compounds. They require a physical action in order to do their job, and that physical action is you working the product against the paint, either vigorously by hand or with a power tool of some sort, such as Meguiar’s G110v2 dual action polisher.
OK, fine, but that doesn’t answer why you don’t want to let these products dry. Or does it? Simply put, since these products only do their job while being physically worked against the paint, there is nothing to gain from letting them dry. In fact, by nature of their composition, some of these products can become quite difficult to remove if you do let them dry. So don’t do it!
Waxes & Sealants, including cleaner waxes - allow to dry completely
Waxes and sealants, including those that contain some cleaning ability such as D151 Paint Reconditioning Cream, ColorX or Cleaner Wax, should be allowed to fully dry before removal because they need time to cure and bond to the paint. In the case of these products there actually is something going on in the chemistry that requires them to dry. If you wipe them off while still wet they don’t have a chance for that chemistry to do its thing and let them bond, so you end up compromising their performance. There is a difference in application process depending on whether you're using a wax with cleaners in it or one without. From we have previously discussed about how the cleaners in other products work, we can see why a cleaner wax needs to be physically worked against the surface first - so the fine abrasives can remove minor defects. In this case you start out using the product much like a paint cleaner, but because it's also a wax, you need to let it dry. A wax without cleaning ability, such as NXT Generation Tech Wax 2.0, M26 High Tech Yellow Wax, Deep Crystal Carnauba and others, only needs to be lightly worked onto the surface so as to leave a very thin film behind, and then be allowed to fully dry. Vigorously working these products against the paint serves no real purpose as they lack even fine cleaning abrasives.
So how do you know if a wax or sealant is dry enough to remove? As a general rule of thumb you should allow 15 to 20 minutes of drying time and then perform the “Swipe Test”. This is a simple test that involves quickly and firmly swiping your clean fingertip against the paint, removing a small area of freshly applied wax. If the swiped area reveals paint that is clear and glossy then the wax is dry and you can wipe off any hazed residue. If the swiped area is streaked or smeared, however, that is an indication that the wax is not fully dry and more time should be allowed for it to do so.
These rules hold true whether you're working with our Consumer Line, Detailer Line or Mirror Glaze Line. You can sum it like this: if the product you are applying to the paint is your final step or your only step, and is intended to offer protection to the finish, let it dry.