How Long to Leave Wax on Car? Useful Tips And Advice

Anyone who loves and appreciates their cars know how important waxing is. It gives your car that beautiful shine and prolongs the life of your car’s paint while protecting it from UV rays, dirt, dust, and chemicals in snow or rain.

However, when it comes to car waxing, most people usually wonder how long to leave wax on a car? Should it be 10 minutes? 20? The entire day? Or should you never wipe it off?

The short answer is – leave wax on your car just until it glazes. This should take somewhere between 10 to 30 minutes.

The longer wax stays on your car, the harder it will be for you to remove it. If it dries, it will leave streaks behind and you really won’t love how it will look then.

Another key factor that determines how long to leave wax on a car is the product you are using. Reputable car wax products often come with directions on how to use them.

These guidelines will clarify how long you should leave the wax on your car before removing it. Wax products often contain different ingredients.

Some dry up faster especially if the car is exposed to the sun and some can stay on the car paint for a while.

how long to leave wax on car

How Do You Know Its Time to Remove Wax on Car?

There is not a specific duration of how long wax should be left on a car, so you need to be very keen when applying it.

After 30 minutes of application, you should perform a swipe test which entails dragging your finger on where the wax has been applied.

If you can see the paint clearly on the area your finger has passed, then it’s time to remove the wax. However, if it still looks foggy, you need to let the wax settle a little bit longer.

Another thing that you need to know about how long you should leave wax on a car is how different types of waxes should be applied differently.

Spray wax dries faster. Therefore, during the application, you should divide your car into portions. This way, you can apply and remove it before it dries up.

On the other hand, paste wax can stay on a car for a while before drying up. So, you can apply and leave it on for a few minutes before wiping it off.

Is It Wrong to Leave Wax on Car for Long?

It’s wrong to leave wax on your car for too long. Of course, it will harden with time and will require supernatural strength to remove it. Other than that, your car will look terrible.

If you have been waxing your car for a while now, then you have come across some products that require you to wipe off the wax right away. The reason behind the above instruction is to prevent wax from hardening and leaving streaks behind.

There are three rules you should follow when waxing your car. One, apply adequate amounts of wax, don’t be too generous. Secondly, apply the wax in circular motions. And finally, thoroughly wipe off the wax after it settles.

There are times when you may get called away when waxing to attend to urgent matters. In this case, the wax will have to stay on your car for longer than it should.

Make sure that you make time to wipe it off as soon as possible. Leaving wax on your car for days will make it look terrible more so if your car has black or dark paint.

As a car owner, you should be able to distinguish between spray and paste waxes. Both will give your car a shine and protect it from elements.

But, they do have different removal periods. For car owners that prefer their cars to be wax-shined all the time, spray wax is the best alternative. These don’t have to be removed, instead, they are rubbed into the finish.

For those who prefer wax that offers lasting results, paste wax is the better choice. It lasts longer but the problem is that it has to be removed.

If this is your preferred type of wax, I highly recommend you invest in an orbit polisher. These are devices that perform the same job as microfiber towels.

The only difference is that orbital polishers are more thorough and make it easier for you to remove wax on your car.

Another advantage of these polishers is that they don’t leave swirl marks so your car will look as good as new. I find them far much better than grinder polishers.

Can You Leave Wax on a Car Overnight?

Though a popular practice, it is wrong to leave wax on a car for longer than recommended. Even though it won’t be that hard to wipe it off the next day because there is no sun exposure at night, the results won’t be that pleasant.

Leaving wax on a car overnight causes streaking. And no matter which color paint your car has, streaking makes your car look bad.

This will force you to strip away the wax and re-wax it later on. This is unnecessary, bearing in mind that you could have avoided all this just by doing a swipe test 30 minutes after application.

What are the Challenges of Removing Wax that has been on a Car for Long?

Should you find yourself in a scenario where you applied wax and forgot to remove it after application, the removal process can be a bit challenging especially if the wax has already hardened.

Yes, it will be complicated but it’s possible. Below we are going to show you how to remove hardened wax from a car. But first, what are some challenges you may face?

Machines such as the orbital polisher allow you to remove the wax through friction. Because the wax is already hardened, you risk scratching your car.

What happens is that you will be cutting into the layer of wax. And if you are too aggressive, or if there is a presence of debris on the car surface, it may result in scratches.

So, you should be very careful when removing wax that has been on a car for too long.

How to Remove Wax on a Car?

To effectively remove wax on your car, you need to ensure that the surface is clean.

So, grab a garden hose, some soap, and a microfiber towel then give your car a thorough cleanse. If you can get your hands on some warm water that will be better because it will smoothen the layers of wax on your car.

The second step towards removing car wax is using an orbital polisher. I have already discussed above how that device works. You will realize that your car will start looking shinier.

That’s how you know the wax has been removed. In instances where you want to strip away all the wax, buy a wax remover. Apply it and remove the wax with a microfiber cloth.

Can I Re-wax My Car and Reverse the Effects of Leaving Wax on for Long?

If you happened to leave wax on your car for almost a week. You are probably disappointed by the streaks that keep on appearing all over your car paint.

Re-waxing your car to reverse the effects of leaving wax on for too long sounds like a brilliant idea. However, your efforts will be in vain.

To make matters worse, waxing too much causes wax build-up and it makes your car look cloudy.

All cars come with a factory clear coat. The purpose of waxing is to enhance the appeal of this coat and make it shinier thus giving your car that brand new look.

When using both paste and spray wax, you are advised to buff or remove it once it has settled. When you wipe off the wax, what’s left behind is a stunning clear coat of paint that has been improved by the wax.

The first time you waxed and forgot to remove the wax created another layer on top of your paint. When you wax again, you are adding another layer.

This time, let’s say you decide to wipe it off in time, you will still be left behind with the hardened layer of wax. Your car will look cloudy and have an uneven shine.

Because there will be some areas that you will successfully remove the wax and in other places, it won’t.

So, What Should I Do If Wax Dries Up On My Car?

Strip it off with a wax remover. That is the best solution. When you leave wax on your car for a long, it will harden. Those who have experienced this can testify how difficult it is to remove the excess layer of wax, more so if it’s paste wax.

A microfiber cloth simply won’t cut it here. And it’s not everyone who owns an orbital polisher. Use a wax remover and strip everything away or take your car for proper detailing. The latter will definitely cost you more.

So if you are a DIY kind of person, the best solution is to apply a wax remover and strip everything away.

Wash your car and then wax it properly. This time conduct a swipe test after 30 minutes then wipe off the wax and reveal that glossy shine beneath it.