How to Remove Car Wax

Car wax is an essential car care product, used to protect the bodywork and paint from abrasion, rust and harmful deposits such as bird droppings and tree sap. We recommend applying a coat of wax to your car at least twice a year to ensure maximum protection and a long-lasting shine.

With that said, there are occasions when you may need to remove car wax, such as when the old coat starts to wear off. So, how do you go about this? And just how easy is it to remove wax from your car?

To help you take care of this job quickly and safely, follow our need-to-know car wax removal guide below.

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How to Remove Car Wax

There are lots of different ways to remove wax from your car and some are speedier and safer than others. The trick is to find the right level of abrasion that will remove the wax without harming the paintwork and clear coat underneath.

Let’s take a look at some of the methods you can use to get wax off your car.

Clay Bars

One of the quickest ways to get rid of wax residue on your car is by using a clay bar. These specialist detailing tools are great for lifting stubborn surface residue, leaving behind a clean, even surface for you to reapply a fresh coat of wax. Not only this but they can also be used as an effective surface decontaminant.

If you’re not familiar with clay bars, we’d recommend getting a starter kit that contains everything you need including a clay bar, lubricant and instructions. It’s critically important to clean your car thoroughly before using a clay bar, and you must also keep the area you’re working on well lubricated, otherwise, you might end up with poor results.

Photo of a satisfied young man polishing his car with microfiber cloth.

Car Polish

Some car polishes, such as Simoniz Scratch & Swirl Remover, are ideal for removing old wax from your car’s surface. They contain an abrasive solution that gently removes residue while reconditioning the surface of the paint, leaving behind a clean, smooth finish that’s perfect for waxing or additional remedial treatment.

When using polish to remove old car wax, start by cleaning your car thoroughly from boot to bonnet. Then, using a soft microfibre cloth, apply the polish panel by panel, using a circular motion to work the product deep into the paintwork and lift any remaining residue.

Specialist Car Cleaners

If you’re looking to remove an old and tired layer of wax from your car, a good quality, all-purpose car cleaner could do the trick. However, it generally won’t be as effective as a specialist cleaner. Specialist cleaning solutions such as tar or fallout remover are slightly stronger than regular car shampoo so are great for cutting through lingering dirt and residue, all without the risk of damage to the paintwork and clear coat.

Another great option often used by car detailers is alcohol wipes containing a small amount of alcohol like IPA to easily wipe away wax from the paintwork.

When using a cleaning product to remove wax, you may need to repeat the wash a couple of times to guarantee the best results. We would strongly advise following this up with a good quality car polish, as this will ensure a smooth, even surface on which to apply a fresh coat of wax.

Why Might You Need to Remove Car Wax?

If you’re a regular Simoniz blog reader, you’ll know that we’re big advocates for regular waxing. So, isn’t it counterintuitive to write a guide on how to remove wax from your car?

Not exactly. There are plenty of reasons why you might need to get wax off your car’s paintwork, as we outline below:

  • The wax layer is old and you want to add a fresh one
  • There are small scratches and swirl marks in the existing wax layer
  • You’re not happy with the results of a particular type of car wax and wish to apply a fresh coat
  • You want to paint your car or carry out remedial work, like a dent or scratch removal
  • You want to recondition the paintwork with a dedicated car polish solution
  • You need to remove wax that has set hard on the paintwork during application
  • You need to repair the clear coat layer; old wax can prevent new sealants from bonding to the surface of the paintwork
The surface of the car in raindrops. The red car is covered with water from precipitation.

How to Tell if There is Still Wax on Your Car

Before you apply a fresh coat of wax to your car, it’s important to make sure there are no traces of old wax on the paintwork. This is important for a few reasons, including:

  • Old wax can diminish the appearance of a new coat
  • You may not achieve a smooth, even and high-shine finish
  • Light scratches and swirl marks will still be visible in the old wax and will be more difficult to remove beneath a fresh coat

The question is, how do you tell if there’s still wax on your car?

Well, a visual inspection should help with that. Start by assessing different panels around your car – does the paintwork appear shiny or is it starting to look dull, even after washing? This is your first clue as to whether any wax is still present.

Next, try pouring some water on your car’s surface. How well does the water bead and run off the paintwork? If wax remains, water will form immediate droplets and run off the surface quickly.

Still not sure? Our advice would be to polish the surface and start from scratch, just to be on the safe side. Polish treatment is one of the most effective ways to achieve a smooth, mark-free finish that’s prime for a fresh coat of quality car wax.

How to Remove Car Wax from Plastic and Glass

When you’re applying wax to your car, you should be careful not to get it on the windows, lights and plastic trim. If you do, it can cause clouding and smearing, impacting all-around visibility. What’s more, you can’t use things such as clay bars to remove it, making it doubly important not to get car wax on these surfaces in the first place.

Hand is cleaning car headlight with a using red microfiber cloth,Automotive maintenance concept.


With that said, accidents can happen, so here are a few products and solutions you can use to safely remove car wax from windows, plastic and light panels.

  • Vinegar: That’s right, vinegar can be used to strip wax from glass and plastic. Apply a few drops to a cloth and scrub lightly to lift any residue.
  • Glass cleaner: If you’re dealing with wax on glass or plastic surfaces, reach for a product such as Simoniz Clear Vision Glass Cleaner. Effective against grease, oily residue, and grime, it’s capable of cutting through wax to restore visibility.
  • Quality car shampoo: No glass cleaner or vinegar to hand? A high-quality car shampoo should do the job. You may need to work on the area a little and use a high concentration of shampoo to make sure all residue is removed.

We hope this guide helps you to deal with removing old wax from your car. And when it’s time for a fresh coat, you know just what to reach for: our iconic gold tin. For more waxing tips and advice, head to the Simoniz help and advice centre.

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