Ask an Expert: How to remove marks from a car after applying wax - Professional Carwashing & Detailing

Ask an Expert: How to remove marks from a car after applying wax

Question: Is there any way to remove swirl marks from a vehicle after wax has already been applied? One detailing expert weighs in.


I have a new Mustang that I waited far too long to do my first hand wash, and as I was washing it yesterday I found some very bad tree sap stains. I went out and got some rubbing compound, and that successfully took out the stains, but I was left with cloudy areas.

I applied spray wax in hopes of resolving this issue, but it did not. I then realized that I shouldn’t have waxed yet. I ran out and got some polishing compound, and paste wax, and treated the cloudy areas. This didn’t help at all — I’m assuming because the wax had already sealed it. I know I messed up big time by applying the wax when I did, but is there any way I can remove the swirl marks AFTER I’ve already waxed? I’ve heard there are wax strippers, but I’m really not sure if that’s the best course of action.

Any help would be very much appreciated.


Those areas are cloudy in part because of the rubbing compound, which will put thousands of tiny micro-scratches into the paint surface, and in part because of the sap itself.

You will need to rub the area with a finer polish, perhaps one designed to remove micro-scratches or swirl marks. In the business, we use polishers to do this work in minutes. By hand, it will take quite a while.

The best advice is to find an IDA-certified (International Detailing Association) detailer in your area to buff out the cloudy spots:

Any compound or polish that you might use will likely “erase” the wax that you put on — wax is not that strong.

Answer provided by Prentice St. Clair, an International Detailing Association (IDA) Recognized Trainer and Certified Detailer (Skills-Validated). As the president of Detail in Progress Inc., he has provided training and consulting to carwash and detail operations since 1999. He is available at 619 701-1100 or [email protected].

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