I like to use a microfiber
sponge to apply the wax. The name is not 100% accurate
in that the "microfiber sponge" is really microfiber
cloth wrapped around a regular sponge.
Surface Preparation. The
surface of the car should be absolutely clean before you
begin waxing. If it isn't clean, waxing will scrub grit
into the surface and scratch your paint.
Direction to Apply the Wax.
On top panels (hood,
trunk, roof), use front-to-back motions. On side
panels, use up-and-down motions. I'm
not sure why this matters, but it seems to work. The
main point, I think, is forget about the old "circular
motion, wax on, wax off" idea. That's just a recipe for
putting swirl marks on your car. If you drop the
applicator, even if it looks clean put it in the wash
and get a new one; it isn't worth the risk of grinding
unseen grit into your finish.
How Thick to Apply the Wax.
Most waxes work best when applying a very thin layer.
You're going to rub off the excess anyway, so there's no
benefit in putting it on thickly. I find it easier to
apply thin layers when I keep the applicator slightly
damp. I keep a spray bottle filled with water handy for
Removing the Wax. Some waxes
recommend immediate removal, some recommend letting them
haze first, and some (notably Zaino) recommend a
specified drying time of 15-30 minutes or more. Follow
the manufacturer's directions in this regard. Remove the
wax with a clean towel, turning the towel often to avoid
scrubbing any foreign substance across the car. Be
careful not to let the towel touch the ground. If it
does, put it in the wash and get a new towel. I have
gone back and forth between using large vs. small towels
for this. The advantage of large towels is that you
don't need as many of them. The disadvantages are that
you have to keep refolding the towel and it's easier to
accidentally drag part of a larger towel on the ground.
I've mostly been using smaller towels lately.
What Kind of Towels to Use. As
with every other aspect of car detailing, there are
strong opinions about whether 100% cotton or microfiber
towels are better. I've used both, and both work well.
The advantage of microfiber, which for me is compelling,
is that the tiny fibers seem to do a better job of
completely removing the wax, which essentially means
that removing the wax and buffing the car occur
simultaneously. Another way of saying the same thing is
that, given the same wax, I think I get a slightly
better shine when I remove the wax with microfiber
rather than cotton. On the other hand, cotton towels
seem easier to maintain than microfiber. Cotton seems to
release the wax in the wash, whereas microfiber seems to
hold on to some of it. You also have to be careful not
to use fabric softener with microfiber. Fabric softener
actually makes the fibers hard, which defeats the
purpose of using microfiber in the first place. Chemical
Guys have a
micro-fiber cleaning detergent.
The Results. The pictures
below are of my Audi right before I sold it. Not bad for
6 1/2 years old!