Over the years we have been asked many kinds of questions about our services and the products we use. There are some questions in particular that are asked on a very regular basis, such as “Is polish and wax the same thing?” or “What’s the difference between wax and polish?” which is why we have written this small article to help provide answers for people. Many people assume polishing and waxing are the same or achieve the same result. People usually tell us that their paint is looking dull and needs a wax, and without coming across rude, it’s hard to explain to the potential customer that what they’re asking for isn’t possible and that they’re confusing two different kinds of products. Let’s break it down for you.

What is a Polish?

The term polish gets thrown around quite loosely in the car detailing industry. Many people will say “I polished my car this weekend” but really, they just sprayed on wax and “polished” it off by using a microfiber cloth (but theoretically they just buffed/wiped off the residue). A polish is a form of compound with a small level of abrasives in it. Polishing is ultimately used to remove scratches and minor imperfections in the paintwork to achieve a flawless finish. Polishing compounds are very refined and are the least aggressive type of cutting compound – the opposite of a heavy cutting compound.

To understand wax and polish differences better, it would be a worry if you were polishing your car every weekend as you would be slowly removing the layer of clear coat by using an abrasive product. Polishing a car will increase the shine as you are removing dirt and grime embedded in the clear coat, as well as reduce swirls and marring, thus increasing the gloss and clarity. However, you want to reduce the amount of polishing you do by protecting the paintwork with a protective coating such as a wax, synthetic sealant, or ceramic coating. Two great ceramic coatings are Gtechniq Crystal Serum Ultra or Opti-Coat Pro+.

Many people get scared when they hear the words ‘cutting compound’ or ‘cut and polish’ (which honestly, we don’t like either) but these are not terms to be afraid of when they’re performed by a professional detailer. A professional detailing business such as Clean Getaway Car Detailing is highly experienced and specializes in ceramic paint protection. In summary, a polish is a form of compound. It does ‘cut’ the paint as it is abrasive, however it doesn’t provide any protection like a wax.

What is a Wax?

Wax is used to layer on top of the paintwork to provide some form of protection but mainly to enhance the appearance of the car. A quality carnauba wax will increase the slickness and smoothness of the painted finish due to it being an oil-based and incredibly refined product. Many people are convinced that they are ‘polishing’ their car, when really, they are only applying a wax to enhance the shine of their vehicle. This is so important for a detailing business to understand. When people ask for a quote to polish their vehicle, they are actually only wanting it to be waxed. However, technically, as a professional the client is [unknowingly] asking for a price to machine polish the paint. Obviously, these are two very different services, one involving a lot more work than the other. For more shine, smoothness, and protection, you wax your car. To perfect your paintwork, clean the clear coat, and prepare your car for protection, you polish your car.

The next time someone asks you the question “Car polish or wax – which is better?” you already know what to say. Both are procedures that your vehicle needs to look stunning at all times. In the car polish vs wax comparison, the answer is both are great for different purposes. As long as you understand where and how to use them, you can reap their many benefits.