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Thread: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

          
  1. #1
    Administrator Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    Q: Do I let Meguiar's waxes dry completely before removal, or do you take them off right after application?
    A: Let them dry fully before removal.

    Q: OK, so how do I know if my wax is dry and ready to remove?
    A: Do the swipe test!

    Q: Uh, OK, but what the heck is the swipe test?
    A: Glad you asked!


    But before we answer, let's take a quick look at the waxing process itself. The two most common, and biggest, mistakes people make when waxing a car is to apply the wax too heavy, and take it off too soon. Much of that comes from using old school, heavy paste carnauba waxes. Back in the day these waxes could be a real challenge to use because if you did let them dry they could be very difficult to remove. And the thicker you applied them, the harder the removal. And, like we said, most people tend to apply wax too thick in the first place. It becomes a vicious cycle!

    So you want to apply your wax in as thin a coat as possible, but also in as uniform a coat as possible. Whether you apply wax by hand or with a tool such as an orbital buffer or dual action polisher like Meguair's G110v2 makes no difference - the bottom line is you want a thin, uniform coat. No matter how thick you apply any wax, only so much of it can bond to the surface. Using too much just wastes product, lengthens the drying process, and makes removal more difficult. That's a lose-lose-lose proposition.

    If you find simply waxing a car to be hard work, and your arms are dead tired when you're done, you're doing it wrong.

    Applying a thin coat of wax to a well prepared surface is like spreading warm butter on a china plate. Removing that thin layer once it's dry should be almost effortless. A quick wipe with a clean, dry microfiber towel is all it takes.

    So what's too thick, and what's thin enough? Look at the picture below - on the left side is a thin coat of wax, on the right is a heavy coat of the exact same wax. Too heavy. Far too heavy. Do NOT let your car look like the right side of this test panel next time you wax.




    All right, now that you're putting down a properly thin coat of wax, let it dry. Yes, you can cover all the painted surfaces of a full sized car or SUV and then wait 10 to 15 minutes before doing the swipe test. If the weather is hot and dry, like Southern California in July, the wax may dry much faster than that. If it's cool and humid, like Detroit in September, it may take a bit longer to dry. Also, some waxes just dry faster than others. There are too many variables involved to give an exact time frame, so use the Swipe Test to your advantage. And here's how:

    Using your index finger, and making sure it's clean and dry (that's really important!) quickly and briskly swipe it against the dried (drying?) wax to reveal the paint below. If the resulting swipe is smeared and streaky, that means the wax is not yet dry. If the resulting swipe is clear and glossy, however, then you know the wax is dry and you can begin the simple task of wiping it off. Looking at the image below you can see two swipe marks. The one on the bottom is noticeably smeared and streaked - it was done just a couple of minutes after applying the wax. The one on the top is clear and streak free - it was done about 10 minutes later. This is the look you're going for, this is the indicator that your wax is now fully dry and will wipe off easily with that clean, dry microfiber towel.



    Waxing does not have to be a difficult, painful task. Apply a thin coat and use the Swipe Test to determine dryness and you'll find yourself completing the task in less time, with less effort, and getting a better result in the process.

    It's a win-win-win proposition.
    Michael Stoops
    Internet Technical Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.
    (800) 854-8073 xt 3875
    mstoops@meguiars.com

    Remember, this hobby is supposed to be your therapy, not the reason you need therapy.

    Please post technical questions directly to the forum rather than emailing or PM-ing me. You
    will get a faster response on the forum, and your question could help someone else, too!


  2. #2
    Registered Member 1970judge's Avatar
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    Good read, i hate living here in the swamp. It is so humid it takes F.O.R.E.V.E.R. to dry.
    2007 HHR-Black

  3. #3
    Detailing Noob Clutch34's Avatar
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    Good write up!
    2009 Honda Accord Coupe LX-S
    Crystal Black Pearl I4 MT

    MOL gave me A.D.D!!! (Auto Detailing Disorder)

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    Registered Member rmatamorz's Avatar
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    great tip... thanks.

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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Stoops View Post
    Q: Do I let Meguiar's waxes dry completely before removal, or do you take them off right after application?
    A: Let them dry fully before removal.

    Q: OK, so how do I know if my wax is dry and ready to remove?
    A: Do the swipe test!

    Q: Uh, OK, but what the heck is the swipe test?
    A: Glad you asked!


    But before we answer, let's take a quick look at the waxing process itself. The two most common, and biggest, mistakes people make when waxing a car is to apply the wax too heavy, and take it off too soon. Much of that comes from using old school, heavy paste carnauba waxes. Back in the day these waxes could be a real challenge to use because if you did let them dry they could be very difficult to remove. And the thicker you applied them, the harder the removal. And, like we said, most people tend to apply wax too thick in the first place. It becomes a vicious cycle!

    So you want to apply your wax in as thin a coat as possible, but also in as uniform a coat as possible. Whether you apply wax by hand or with a tool such as an orbital buffer or dual action polisher like Meguair's G110v2 makes no difference - the bottom line is you want a thin, uniform coat. No matter how thick you apply any wax, only so much of it can bond to the surface. Using too much just wastes product, lengthens the drying process, and makes removal more difficult. That's a lose-lose-lose proposition.

    If you find simply waxing a car to be hard work, and your arms are dead tired when you're done, you're doing it wrong.

    Applying a thin coat of wax to a well prepared surface is like spreading warm butter on a china plate. Removing that thin layer once it's dry should be almost effortless. A quick wipe with a clean, dry microfiber towel is all it takes.

    So what's too thick, and what's thin enough? Look at the picture below - on the left side is a thin coat of wax, on the right is a heavy coat of the exact same wax. Too heavy. Far too heavy. Do NOT let your car look like the right side of this test panel next time you wax.




    All right, now that you're putting down a properly thin coat of wax, let it dry. Yes, you can cover all the painted surfaces of a full sized car or SUV and then wait 10 to 15 minutes before doing the swipe test. If the weather is hot and dry, like Southern California in July, the wax may dry much faster than that. If it's cool and humid, like Detroit in September, it may take a bit longer to dry. Also, some waxes just dry faster than others. There are too many variables involved to give an exact time frame, so use the Swipe Test to your advantage. And here's how:

    Using your index finger, and making sure it's clean and dry (that's really important!) quickly and briskly swipe it against the dried (drying?) wax to reveal the paint below. If the resulting swipe is smeared and streaky, that means the wax is not yet dry. If the resulting swipe is clear and glossy, however, then you know the wax is dry and you can begin the simple task of wiping it off. Looking at the image below you can see two swipe marks. The one on the bottom is noticeably smeared and streaked - it was done just a couple of minutes after applying the wax. The one on the top is clear and streak free - it was done about 10 minutes later. This is the look you're going for, this is the indicator that your wax is now fully dry and will wipe off easily with that clean, dry microfiber towel.



    Waxing does not have to be a difficult, painful task. Apply a thin coat and use the Swipe Test to determine dryness and you'll find yourself completing the task in less time, with less effort, and getting a better result in the process.

    It's a win-win-win proposition.

    Does this apply for any type of liquid wax?

  6. #6
    Administrator Michael Stoops's Avatar
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    Quote Originally Posted by leon_xness View Post
    Does this apply for any type of liquid wax?
    Sure does.
    Michael Stoops
    Internet Technical Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.
    (800) 854-8073 xt 3875
    mstoops@meguiars.com

    Remember, this hobby is supposed to be your therapy, not the reason you need therapy.

    Please post technical questions directly to the forum rather than emailing or PM-ing me. You
    will get a faster response on the forum, and your question could help someone else, too!


  7. #7
    Registered Member ChpStcksRlz's Avatar
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    Oh... I've been wasting my DeepCrystal Carnauba wax then >_<, I guess I'll apply wax to the whole car then I guess I'll wait 15 mins and start taking off the wax. Thanks!
    Toyota Corolla S ZZE136L
    After using UC, UP, and UW... I'm not happy with smooth as glass.
    Smooth as Glass is an old standard, the new standard for paint texture is Meguiar's Ultimate Quality...

  8. #8
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    I knew it!! Ive had many arguments with people about this. Most have said that you buff right away. I figured out over the years without additional information like this forum that its best to let it completely dry. lololol....I love MOL.
    Shane
    Cardomain ยท HINcity

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    Detailing nOob StuSSYsporT's Avatar
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    man.... great write up! cant believe ive been wasting so much wax before

  10. #10
    Registered Member Imperiex's Avatar
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    Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

    This is very informative. For a very long time, I went about applying products in a much less...informed way, to say the least. I used to use Turtle Wax Ice (my mistake), and I had absolutely no idea of what to do after the fact. I would try and wipe it off, but it got really smeared around, and so then I thought I'd made a mistake. For a short time, I didn't wipe it off at all. Granted, this is ICE we're talking about here. It doesn't dry white. It just sits there like baby oil.

    But alas, Meguiars did come along and help me out. I learned from my errors. Although I was discouraged after my time with Black Magic Wet Shine Car Wax (to be fair, I only tried it once. And only on my roof. I didn't really give it much chance. It was just way too hard to take off for a 16 year old), I kept on trying.

    Eventually, I found my favorite. A girl I knew in high school new how badly I wanted to try it, and so she got me the paste version of NXT 2.0 Wax. Now, I am not fond of pastes, but it works phenomenally. But it has made me somewhat lazy. See, I've stopped counting the time it takes to dry. I'll wait a half an hour before I go back out there and take it off. Why? Because I can. With NXT, it just doesn't seem to matter.

    Maybe I am wrong, but it seems to work out fairly well in the case of the legend.

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