How to Clean Polishing Pads after Use?

Last Updated 27th November 2019

If you’ve just spent the past few hours tiring over your car with a machine polisher then the last thing you want to do is to spend the next hour cleaning your polishing pads.

However, a good clean down is crucial for keeping your equipment in top condition. It also means that you can get started on your next detail with fresh, clean gear.

I’ve put together some tips on how to clean your polishing pads in the least painful way possible. I use this technique myself and it hasn’t failed me yet.

Cleaning Polishing Pads on the Fly

During a polish, you may get through several different pads. It’s important to not just leave the pads on the side whilst you continue with the rest of the car. This will cause the compound to dry, which will make them a right pain to clean later on.

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  1. Before you start polishing, fill a plastic container (like a washbasin or bucket) with water. Leave the bucket in an easy-to-reach place, so you aren’t away from the polishing for too long.
  2. Once finished with the pad, immediately spray it with some all-purpose cleaner. Then put it face down in the water bucket. To help things out, you can always spray some all-purpose cleaner in the water too, but that’s not essential.
  3. Dealing with the pads as soon as you’re finished with them means you’re not allowing the compound to dry within the pad. As soon as the product drys, it gets trapped within the pad and it’ll be impossible to fully clean the pad. This step will start the cleaning process early, making your life easier later on.

If you’re getting through several pads, simply repeat the process and throw them in the bucket of water with all of the other pads.

Cleaning Polishing Pads By Hand (After Use)

Once you’re finished then be sure to tidy up all your gear. Take the bucket with the pads somewhere with enough space and drainage to give each pad a good clean & rinse.

For each pad, give it another spray with some all-purpose cleaner, and then agitate it with a small brush. A foam pad cleaner brush is a great tool for this as it’s easy to handle and isn’t so stiff that it will start taking chunks out of the pad.

After you’ve given the pad a good scrub, grab your hose or tap, and give the pad a good rinse. Ideally, you want a powerful stream of water, but not so powerful that it will damage the pad (so do not use a pressure washer). Keep rinsing the pad until it’s full of water, then squeeze all of the water out – to begin with, the water will be white, but should get clearer as you repeat the cleaning process.

Repeat this wash and rinse process until the pad is clean.

Finally, leave the pads to air dry. Do not apply heat to the pad as this will ruin its structure, rendering it useless for your next polish.

Once you’ve cleaned your polishing pads, press the face of the pad against a clean and dry microfiber cloth. This will draw any water out of the pad and onto the cloth, giving the drying process a head start.

Before storing the pads, make sure they are completely dry. Any damp could attract mould into the pads – a nasty shock next time you want to get the polisher out!

Want to learn more about car detailing? Check out our detailing guide!