Buff, Wash, Rinse, Repeat

Posted: September 1, 2012

By: Barry Berhoff

Are buffing pads intended for one-time use, or can they be washed and reused?
It is very important to always start a waxing or buffing job with a fresh set of pads. This doesn’t mean a new set, but rather pads that are clean and in good condition. Dirty pads will work against you in two ways. First, if they are already loaded with wax or compound, they will not work efficiently, greatly increasing the time you will need for buffing. Second, a dirty pad, one that may have been stored poorly or has grime embedded in it, can really damage your finish by grinding that dirt into the surface.

Proper pad cleaning and storage is essential. Here is what you will need:
- A 5-gallon bucket
- Boat soap
- Small stiff brush
- Zip-top plastic bags
- Buffing pads

Add 1 capful of boat soap to your bucket, and fill the bucket about three-quarters full.
For foam-based pads and woven bonnets, hand wash them in the bucket, working out the chemicals, then rinse well, wring out and let them air dry face up.

Wool-based pads get really gunked up and matted down. A small, stiff brush will be a big help. As your wool pad gets matted down, it starts to work less efficiently. Turn off your buffer and fluff the pad briskly with the stiff brush, which will extend the useful life of the pad as you buff. Once the pad is so loaded that fluffing will no longer work, it is time to wash the pad. Using the stiff brush — in the soapy water bucket — scrub and work the compound out of the pad. Once it’s clean, rinse it well and push all excess water from the pad. Then let it air dry face up.

Once all your pads are dry, make sure to store them in a plastic bag so they will stay clean for next time.

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