What’s The Difference Between Polish and Wax

Many people that are new to detailing often confuse a car polish and wax as the same product. However, they are very different because polishes eliminate imperfections whereas waxes protect and enhances the paintwork.

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difference between polish and wax
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In order to maintain your car’s shine, simply using a car shampoo on a regular basis isn’t enough. You will want to also invest into a suitable car polish and wax or even an all-in-one product.

The main difference between a polish and a wax is that a polish is an abrasive formula whereas a wax is a filler. Therefore, you will want to use a polish to remove imperfections such as swirl marks, water spots and other light imperfections. You can then enhance the shine and protect the paintwork afterwards using a high quality wax.

Many brands also offer an all-in-one product that’s able to remove light swirl marks and scratches whilst improving the shine and protection. However, for the best results, a dedicated car polish and wax is highly recommended. All-on-one products often contain more fillers that only provide a temporary finish.

    Car Polish in Detail

    In order to tackle light scratches, oxidation and other minor imperfections, you will want to invest into a high quality car polish. They are designed to be used before a wax and help to restore the paintwork back to a like-new finish.

    They work by removing microscopic layers of your car’s clear coat, which takes care of any imperfections. For heavy oxidation or deeper scratches, you will need to use a more abrasive formula such as a cutting compound.

    In terms of applying a polish, it can be achieved by hand or using a car polishing machine. Most require application to take place within a garage or shaded area but there are some premium options that can be applied in direct sun light.

    Car Wax in Detail

    Once you have gone to the effort of removing the imperfections in your paintwork, it’s worthwhile protecting and enhancing the finish. The best way to do this is to use one of the latest car waxes, which are available as a synthetic or carnauba based wax. Synthetic waxes provide a longer lasting finish whereas carnauba waxes leave a glossier finish.

    Application is more commonly achieved by hand but there are some products that can be applied by machine if you would prefer. However, if you intend to use a paste formula, it’s much easier to apply it by hand with an applicator pad.


    Polishing and waxing your car a few times a year is highly recommended in order to retains its factory finish. However, as long as the polish isn’t too abrasive, you can polish and wax your car each month if you really wanted.

    If you would prefer a more protective finish that a wax can’t provide, you could apply a ceramic coating that’s designed for cars. It’s a specialist detailing product that can protect the paintwork for up to a year or even longer.

    YourCar Author Dan

    Written By Dan

    Dan has been a car enthusiast ever since he can remember and has an extensive range of cars that include classic cars that he has restored himself from a barn find condition to modern performance cars. Whether you need advice on how to install car parts or recommendations on what products to buy, Dan’s first-hand experience will certainly help.

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