How To Remove Car Wax

how to remove car wax

Why Wax Your Car?

Carnauba wax has long been a part of many detailers’ product arsenals. It’s a great way to get your paint glossy and beautiful before you show off your car. It’s hydrophobic and can really make your paint POP.

At Dr. Beasley’s, we’re definitely prone to recommending a coating instead of a wax. Why is that, you might ask? While waxes produce a gorgeous gloss, they do very little in terms of protection. Wax is also not durable. A month after waxing your car, you’d need to reapply. Coatings, on the other hand, can last anywhere from 1 to 10 years.

Why Remove Car Wax?

Instead of actively removing wax, many people just wait until their paint is less shiny and hydrophobic than it was when they originally applied the wax. This is a fine method if you’re only interested in reapplying more wax.

However, if you want to amp up your paint protection and apply a coating, it’s crucial that all waxes be removed from your paint. If anything is left on the paint prior to the application of a coating, the protectant will not bond properly. Durability, protection, and gloss will be negatively effected. 

How To Remove Car Wax 

Many online forums recommend using an isopropyl alcohol (IPA) wipe-down to remove wax. We’re not comfortable with this method because we really don’t think it’s enough. Wax is an oily, slick substance, so it should be removed with a degreaser.

Yes, isopropyl alcohol has some degreasing and cleaning properties, but a degreaser is a more complete option. This isn’t to say IPA has no place in the car detailing process; in fact it’s a very important part of detailing. 

We recommend degreasing your entire car to remove wax. We’ve heard of people using Dawn as a degreaser. Do NOT use Dawn dish soap. It’s a degreaser – but it should never be used on a car. It’s too strong and can dry out paint.

Use a degreaser that’s formulated specifically for car paint. After degreasing, then do an IPA wipe down. This will remove any residual product and neutralize the paint. Once you IPA wipe, you can apply your coating (assuming no paintwork correction is needed). 


Questions or comments? Let us know! 





  • Ruth Gibson

    We recently started a car detailing company in Tampa, FL. I really appreciated your comparison between wax and coatings. Thanks again!

    • Great to hear Ruth! All the best with your new detailing company!

  • James Basinger

    When you use IPA for the final residue, do you use it full strength? If diluted, what ratio of ipa and water?

    • Hi James! Most people dilute their IPA. In the past we have recommended diluting your IPA by 15%.

  • Kev

    Hi. Good article!! Is the Chemical Guys CWS80316 – Clean Slate Surface Cleanser Wash or similar car shampoos a good solution?