How to Wash a Car After It Has Been Waxed

Have you just freshly waxes your car and it’s looking super clean and glossy, but you’re not sure how to keep it clean between waxes?

A lot of car owners aren’t really sure how they should actually wash a car between waxing, and it’s important to know the answer to keep your car well protected and looking shiny.

In this article, I’ll be addressing all your questions about washing a car after you’ve waxed it, so let’s get started.

The Quick Answer

You should wash your car between waxes, or for the first time after waxing using a pH neutral shampoo to avoid stripping the wax. You can use a quick detailer spray immediately after washing to help top up some of the protection and gloss without waxing your car again.

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Use a pH Neutral Car Shampoo

One of the most important things you need to be conscious of when washing a car, is what shampoo you’re using.

To maintain your wax and make it last longer, you should use a pH neutral car shampoo. This is very important because if you use a shampoo that is alkaline, it can strip the wax off your car leaving it unprotected.

You should never use dish washing soap to wash your car. It will remove the wax and also makes your car more prone to rust.

It’s important not to use a traffic film remover (TFR) on your car after waxing either. TFR is alkaline so will also remove the wax layer.

So which shampoo is the best? One of my favourites is Garage Therapy Car Shampoo.

It’s very concentrated so you only need to use a tiny amount, which is great because the bottle lasts for ages. It’s a no-nonsense car shampoo that foams up nicely and also doesn’t contain any wax, so it won’t interfere and cover the wax that you’ve just applied.

Proper Wash Technique

If you want to keep your car looking pristine and scratch free, then it’s vital that you use the proper washing technique. This is important whenever you’re washing your car, not just when you’ve waxed it. Here are some of the most important points to keep in mind.

  • Always thoroughly rinse your car before washing to remove as much dirt as possible and pre-wash it using either snow foam or a citrus spray.
  • Use a microfiber wash mitt to clean your car, never a sponge. Sponges trap dirt and grit and rub it into the paintwork causing scratches.
  • Wash from top to bottom. Check out this article I’ve written about washing from top to bottom to learn why this is super important to avoid scratches.
  • Keep checking for dirt on your wash mitt. If you see any dirt, then give it a rinse with a power washer or swap it out for a new mitt.
  • Always use separate buckets and tools to wash the wheels and paintwork to avoid cross contamination and scratches.
  • Use a microfiber towel to dry your car, never a bathroom towel.

Top Up the Protection and Gloss

One of the biggest questions that car owners have, is how do they make their car look shinier without having to apply the wax again?

The best way to do this, is to use a quick detailer spray. These can be used after washing to apply some extra protection to the paintwork to help maintain the wax underneath, and add some gloss.

You should never use a quick detailer spray between washes, only straight after, otherwise you risk scratching the paint. Check out this article I’ve written about quick detailer sprays to learn more.

You can simply give the car a quick spray down after drying using a microfiber towel. Or you can use the spray as a lubricant when actually drying the paint to further reduce the risk of scratching the paintwork.

More Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t worry if you still have some more questions, here are the answers to the most FAQs about washing your car after waxing.

Does car washing remove wax?

Washing your car will degrade the wax to some extent, but it will not remove it completely if you use a pH neutral car shampoo. Frequent washing can reduce the durability of the wax, however, it’s important to keep your car well maintained by washing it regularly.

How long after waxing can you wash your car again?

You should wait at least 48 hours after waxing your car before you wash it again. This gives the wax enough time to cure, meaning it has fully sealed. Washing your car sooner can reduce the life of the wax and potentially remove it completely.

Does car shampoo with wax actually work?

Car shampoo that contains wax may add some gloss and protection to your paintwork, but it will not last very long. It will be completely removed the next time you wash the paint, and is likely to be most removed if it rains.

To top up the protection between waxing, consider using a quick detailer spray after you wash your car.

How long does car wax last?

The durability of your car’s wax depends on a few different factors.

  1. How well prepared the surface was before it was waxed.
  2. How exposed your car is to the elements e.g. if it’s stored outside, if it frequently rains etc.
  3. What wax you used. Some waxes last much longer than others.

Generally, most natural waxes last 2-3 months before they need to be reapplied.

Check out my guide to how long waxes last to learn more about this topic.

Thanks for reading! I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog to learn more about making your car look its best.



Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

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