Pad Cleaning Guide
Why clean the pads?
Unless you’re made of money, you’ll need to reuse them! Cleaning your pads is the most important step in keeping consistent results during polishing.
Polish and paint residue bind up within the pad and can cause marring and scratching when spinning on the polisher, which can ruin the glossy paint you’re trying to achieve.
What to clean pads with?
There are several options for cleaning polishing pads.
- All purpose cleaner
- Rags to Riches by The Rag Company
- Polishing pad cleaner
- Dish soap (requires extra rinsing)
During the polishing phase your pads heat up, so you should switch pads every panel and let the pad cool down completely (30 minutes plus). Some of the methods listed are in line allowing you to forego this step.
We will separate the methods in in-line and out-of-line methods. In-line methods allow you to use fewer pads by cleaning and cooling the pad during the polishing step. Out-of-line methods involve cleaning all of your pads at once when you’re done polishing.
- System 4000. This is the best option! It cleans and cools the pad in one step, making polishing more efficient, faster, and safer. If you do more than one vehicle, it’s highly recommended by the community. This system can be used on its own, skipping everything below.
- Hand washing and air drying. The old fashioned way works okay. This takes extra time but it’s good on a budget. Make sure the pad dries thoroughly and is fully cleaned.
- Air blow out. This used to be popular decades ago but isn’t recommended anymore because compressed air doesn’t fully clean the pad and doesn’t dissipate the heat in the core of the pad.
- Brushing out pads. Taking a brush or damp microfiber towel to the pad surface while it’s spinning on the DA polisher will remove some of the surface debris and temporarily improve your polishing results. It’s more of a spot clean to finish up a panel, but it doesn’t eliminate heat.
- Pad washers, including System 4000 and the DetailGuardz pad washer. These can be used at the end of the full polishing session to fully clean the pads and leave them to dry while you stare at your freshly glossy paint.
- Washing machine. This is the best option for bulk to clean a ton of pads at once.
- Make sure to not overload the machine.
- Use a washing net/bag for pads so they don’t bounce freely around the machine.
- Don’t wash with any other towels or clothing.
- Use the lowest RPM setting possible or even a non-spin cycle. The most gentle setting is best.
- Wash on “cold” or “cool” setting, to a max of lukewarm.
- Hand washing and air drying. It’s slow, but it works the same. Soaking pads in a bucket can help break down residue.