How to clean your foam pad on the fly Video: How to clean your pad on the fly
Here's a technique I've been showing for years on how to clean your pad quickly so you can get back to buffing out your car.
How to clean your pad on the fly
The above technique works with any of the below DA Polishers, Porter Cable DA Polisher Meguiar's DA Polisher Griot's Garage DA Polisher Shurhold DA Polisher
If it works for you after watching the video, please post a comment to the thread for the video in the included link above.
When using a dual action polisher to remove below surface defects with any type of abrasive product you’re going to have two things building up on the face of the foam pad that you need to clean off.
- Spent residue - From the product you’re using.
- Paint - Small particles of paint that are coming off the car as you abrade the surface
If you’re working on a clear coat finish then keep in mind you won’t see the paint residue building up on the pad because the clear coat paint is clear. Make sense?
If you’re working on a clearcoat finish, all you're going to see is the color of the product that you’re using. For example if you’re using a white colored polish you’ll see white residue building-up on the pad.
Now if you’re working on as single stage paint then you’ll see the color of the paint on the car on the face of your foam pad,. For example if you’re working on a single stage yellow paint system then you’ll see yellow paint on the face of your foam pad.
The important thing to understand is that as you work on the car with your polisher you’re going to be removing a little paint and there’s going to be used-up product and paint
building-up on the face of the foam pad. It's important to clean this gunk off your pad often
So the question is, how to you clean this gunk off the pad?
The answer is there’s a number of ways to clean your foam pad, the three most common are,
- Pad Washer
- Nylon Brush or Pad Cleaning Brush
- Terry Cloth Towel
Out of the 3 options listed above, cleaning your pad on the fly is probably the most popular
because it’s fast, and most people have a terry cloth towel in the linen closet that they can use to clean the pad.
way to clean a pad is with a pad washer but before you can use a pad washer you must first own one. Pad washers are worth their weight in gold if you buff cars out with any kind of regularity. If however you’re just buffing out your own personal cars, then chances are you don’t own a pad washer but chances are very good you do own a terry cloth towel or two that you can use to clean your pads on the fly.
Brushes work good if you’re using a rotary buffer but the only way you can use one with DA Polisher is to turn the polisher off, hold the polisher and pad in such a way that the pad won’t spin and then rub the brush over the face of the pad to scrape off the residue.
While this works, it means turning the polisher off, (now you're not buffing out the car, remember the time
issue?) and grabbing your brush and then brushing the pad. Nothing wrong with this but when you consider how long it already takes to do the cleaning step, (about 4-6 hours for an average size car and that’s if your good at this and
if you work fast and don’t take any breaks. So stopping the polisher and using a brush to clean the pad works but it’s not as fast or effective as using a terry cloth towel.
The whole idea and success behind the cleaning your pad on the fly technique
is in that it allows you to clean your pad quickly, (that’s the on the fly
part), and then quickly
get back to work.
Again, buffing out an entire car using a dual action polisher from start to finish is an all day job. There is no time for lollygagging. If you lollygag or take long breaks, you either won’t get the job done in one day or you’ll sacrifice doing a quality job during the cleaning step
in order to get to the waxing step
so you can put the car back into service. So let’s take a look at how-to clean your pad on the fly
Cleaning your pad on the fly is where you take a terry cloth towel, usually a medium size hand towel works best, you fold it in two and then simply hold the towel against the face of the pad and then turn the polisher on and use your hand that’s holding the towel to push the towel into the foam. This will act to draw any excess liquid out of
the foam and any excess residue off of
the face of the pad.
This is me using the Clean your Pad on the Fly Technique
to clean my pad on the fly as we removed the oxidation off this Neon
After polishing a section of the trunk lid on Harvey,
Max's classic 1964 Ford Falcon Future, we took a brand new 100% Cotton Terry Cloth Towel and held it against the face of the foam pad and then turned the polisher on and pushed and smooshed the towel against the pad for about 45 seconds or so and here are the results. Question:
Why use terry cloth instead of microfiber? Answer:
100% cotton terry cloth is very good at absorbing liquid, so when you push the terry cloth into the foam the liquid in the foam will transfer into the terry cloth fibers through capillary action where the cotton fibers will more or less hold or trap the liquid inside of themselves.
There’s more to it than that however, the nap of terry cloth, that is the little cotton loops, will help to slice into the caked and gummy reside which will loosen its hold so the residue will transfer to the towel as well as some will fall to the ground.
Compared to most microfiber polishing cloths with a nap, not the type that has flat woven surface, the terry cloth nap, (the nap is the the little tiny loops of cotton fiber), is more stout and it’s this extra stoutness that enables a large, nap terry cloth towel to work better to break-up the residue on the pad.
So it’s both the absorbency of the cotton fibers plus the larger size of the cotton nap that together make a terry cloth towel better for cleaning your pad on the fly. Does that make sense? The nap of 100% Cotton Terry Cloth Toweling
Conversely, isn’t one of the reasons microfiber polishing cloths are so popular for wiping paint is because the fibers are microscopic in size and thus are more gentle to paint than larger cotton fibers? (The answer is “yes”)
You can use what you like and make up your own mind. Besides the case I’ve made above for using terry cloth another reason is to save your microfibers for where they excel best and that’s wiping residues off polished paint.
Some might also make the case that 100% cotton is better at ab
sorbing while microfiber materials are better at ad
sorbing but that’s probably getting just a little too deep for what is actually a very simple method of cleaning your foam pads while buffing out a car.
Try both the next time you’re working on a car and come to your own conclusion but for me I’ll use terry cloth towels for removing residues off my pads and I’ll save my microfibers for carefully cleaning residues off paint. Question:
What about pad cleaning brushes? Answer:
I touched briefly on this above, but let's drill down a little deeper. Pad cleaning brushes or even a nylon toothbrush work great for cleaning residue off the face of a foam pad when the foam pad is on a rotary buffer
but they don't work well at all when the pad is on a dual action polisher
About the best you can hope for is to clean the very center of the pad when the tool is turned on but as you draw the bristles of the brush towards the outside of the pad the increased pressure over a small area, (the bristles of the brush pushing down on the foam), is enough pressure to engage the clutch in the tool and stop the pad from rotating.
The brush only cleans the pad if the pad is rotating. Thus brushes don't work well for cleaning pads on dual action polisher when you're trying to clean the pad while the polisher is turned on. Give it a try sometime and you'll see exactly what I mean.
For years when someone asks about the cheapie rotary buffers you can buy at Harbor Freight for buffing out paint, I would always mention that if nothing else, they make a great pad cleaner. That is take your dirty pads and one at a time place them on the backing plate of the rotary buffer and then use the rotary buffer to clean your pads. Rotary Buffers are direct drive
tools and have a lot of power and a little brush held against the face of the pad isn't enough to slow the tool down so they work great for cleaning pads as well as removing a lot of paint quickly if you're using a RB to buff-out paint.
The cleaning your pad on the fly technique works well for all the popular dual action polishers on the market including,
Products mentioned Dual Action Polishers Porter Cable 7424XP Meguiar’s G110 Griot’s Garage Professional Random Orbital Polisher Pad Washers System 2000 Pad Washer Grit Guard Universal Pad Washer Pad Brushes The Edge Foam Pad Conditioning Brush Duo-Spur at Autogeek Cobra Detailing Brush Kit Further Reading Tips & Techniques for using the Porter Cable 7424XP Resources Autogeek Online Detailing Forum Autogeek Online Store
- Porter Cable 7424XP
- Porter Cable 7424
- Porter Cable 7336
- Ultimate Detailing Machine – The first generation was Autopia’s design. The second generation is a re-badged Porter Cable 7424
- Meguiar’s G100a – Re-badged Porter Cable 7424, came with a lifetime warranty
- Meguiar's G100 – Re-badged Porter Cable 7424, came with a 1 year warranty.
- Meguiar’s G110 – Meguiar’s design
- Meguiar’s G220 – Meguiar’s design – 220 Volts
- Griot’s Garage Professional Random Orbital Polisher – Griot’s design