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

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

    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
    Senior Global Product & Training Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.

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

  • #2
    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.
    My automotive related blog! http://hereishowiviewthings.blogspot.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

      Good write up!
      2011 Infiniti G37S 6MT
      Black Obsidian

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

        great tip... thanks.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

          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?

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

            Originally posted by leon_xness View Post
            Does this apply for any type of liquid wax?
            Sure does.
            Michael Stoops
            Senior Global Product & Training Specialist | Meguiar's Inc.

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

            Comment


            • #7
              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...

              Comment


              • #8
                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 · HINcity

                Comment


                • #9
                  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

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    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.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

                      Originally posted by StuSSYsporT View Post
                      man.... great write up! cant believe ive been wasting so much wax before
                      You're not the only one, I thought it was supposed to look like the one on the right and if my right arm was still attached, then I did it wrong!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

                        Very informative post
                        ~ Providing unbiased advice that Professional and Enthusiast Detailer’s Trust ~ Blog – http://togwt1980.blogspot.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test



                          Isn't the wax on the left applied a little too thick as well. Was this just so the camera could pick it up? Normally, I apply an ultra thin coat, that's just barely visible. Very little white is showing in my wax, when I apply it.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

                            Could be thinner.
                            2017 Subaru WRX Premium - WR Blue

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: How to tell if your wax is dry - The Swipe Test

                              I apply my wax thinner than that too, or the picture might just look thick because of the way the light is hitting the wax. This is a very good post because it actually shows everybody what a thin Layer of wax is compared to a thick layer instead of just telling people to apply thin ( when they might have no idea of how thin is thin and what considered to be thick )

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