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Cleaning Pads



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Also, theres detailed FAQ threads posted for most common questions at the top of each section.





The next in my series of FAQ threads, addressing our most common questions and concerns with aspects of detailing.


Its time we put to rest a lot of the questions about proper pad and foam accessory care. Many people learn the hard way about some of the things they shouldn't do by destroying their first set of pads. As always the best place for you to start is the videos, the basic outline of proper accessory care is covered, and hopefully this thread can serve as a supplement to the video and provide further clarification.


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So the common concern usually comes to me something like this.


"I cleaned my pads just like in the video and put them in a plastic bag when I was done. When I went to use them the next time they were crumbling and falling apart. Did I get defective pads?"


This situation is pretty common, people assume that storing their pads and other foam accessories in a plastic bag is a good way to keep them safe. Why wouldn't it be right? You want to keep them completely clean and ready to use... but the problem comes from moisture. Even a small trace of moisture still trapped deep within the pads will lead to mildew when the pad is stored in a bag, this will cause the pad to weaken, deteriorate, and in some cases even completely turn to a pile of foam pad crumbs. Never EVER store a foam accessory in a sealed, air tight container. Even if you think its 100% dry, theres a good chance there is still some moisture in the pad.


There have even been cases where pads that were never used get sealed in a bag when the ambient humidity is extremely high, the results are the same. The moisture trapped in the bag destroyed the pad.




  • Clean your pads using Adam's APC immediately after use. I know, its tempting to just toss them aside and wait until another day to do the pad cleaning, but the sooner you clean, the easier it will be. Also pads will clean more completely when the polish is still moist and hasn't dried deep inside the pores of the foam. A lot of times dusting happens with pad that haven't been cleaned well when the dried polish from deep in the pad starts to get flung out.
  • If you absolutely cannot clean the pads when you're detail is done, prepare a bucket of clean water. Add approximately 3-4oz of APC and place the pads inside. To keep the pads submerged in the water place your grit guard, face down, on top of the pads to hold them down. It might be necessary to find something with some weight to keep it pressed downward, the Fender Brush works excellent for this (see pic at the bottom). This is only an overnight solution... we do not recommend letting it sit in this for any extended period of time. When you do have time to clean them use the standard methods, this is not a replacement method, just a way to buy time.
  • Repeat cleanings as needed. Sometimes a pad or accessory won't come 100% clean on the first attempt... don't just put it back dirty. Clean it again! Some pad staining is normal, but the pads should be free of all polish or wax residue before considering them clean. The hex grip wax apps can tend to hold the wax and glaze even with repeat cleanings. If they don't come clean with your hose and APC, try washing in the sink with warm water and dawn dish soap, not just any dish soap, but DAWN and only straight soap, none of the kind with added moisturizers. Make sure to rinse extremely well when using this method.
  • Dry your pads face down on a clean wire rack. Allowing sufficient airflow thru the pad will help with faster drying. In the case you don't have a wire rack or something similar to dry pads on, place them face down on a GWDT and press down repeatedly to work as much of the water as you can out of the pad and into the towel. Once this is completed place the pad on a fresh, dry towel to complete air drying.
  • The "PC Free-spin" drying method is NOT recommended. When pads are wet they are substantially heavier, allowing the PC to 'free-spin' with a wet pad creates unnecessary stress on the machine as well as the pad backing and glue which holds it in place.
  • Once you're confident that your pads are as dry as they can be store in an area that gets sufficient airflow, but will keep them protected from dust and debris. NEVER USE PLASTIC BAGS to store foam accessories. Office supply stores sell excellent storage solutions. Pictured below is an perfect option, the drawers are not air tight, but the pads are protected from all sides. Other options include drilling holes in the side of your plastic tote to use for pad storage.





Proper foam accessory care ensures that your pads, applicators, and other items stay useful, effective and last you a long time. Nothing is more frustrating that being ready to detail and discovering that a lack of proper care has ruined your only pad or applicator for a certain purpose... spending a little time caring for the things that care for your car means they'll be ready to use when you need them.


UPDATE: Pad Wear and Tear/When to Replace


On average you can expect to see somewhere between 10-15 full corrections out of a set of pads. Obviously this will vary based on the number of passes made with each pad, the degree to which the pads are worked, and the size of the vehicles. Like anything else the pads will start to break down in one way or another, but proper maintenance helps ensure you get the most uses before having to retire a set.




Pad does not stick well to backing plate or wants to shift during use - This is indicative of velcro failure. If the pads have been used heavily and more than a dozen times this is common. Pulling the pads off of the plate breaks some of the 'loops' in the hook and loop system each time. Remove the pads enough times and the loops begin to no longer hold. Also inspect your backing plate... it will pick up lint and fibers from a number of sources, a buildup of these will lead to a less "sticky" backing plate. Clean debris and fibers from the backing plate often.


Pad has rip or tear along the back edging - This issue is seen with improper technique, most notably not keeping the pad flush or as flush as possible with the finish during use. Even a slight tilt in your polishing position will allow the backing plate to dig into the bevel and thus cause a tear in the pad. This issue is often exaggerated by pulling the pad from the backing plate improperly. Anytime the pad is to be removed avoid pulling from just the edge. Work your fingers between the pad and the backing plate to start a separation and then pull with your fingers holding more of the pad than just the edge.

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I was just thinking that all these instructional videos that Adam has put together are invaluable. The techniques and tips in these vids - not to mention the production value - would've been worth at least $20 in DVD format. I still can't believe all this wealth of info is free! Of course, it's great for selling products, but I can't think of one other car care product company that goes to such lengths to make sure it's customers have a full and complete understanding of how to achieve the best results with their products.


Great video Dylan. Thanks for another helpful tip. Man! It's like taking on-line courses!

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