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Pad Cleaning Techniques (Part 1)


I was working on a black single stage paint and jumped on the chance to show you some different techniques of cleaning your pad during your workflow.

I will show three methods I use often:

  1. Brushing out the pad with a nylon brush 
  2. Microfiber towel method
  3. Using compressed air, or specifically a Tornador

Single stage paint makes it VERY easy to see how much paint particulates are coming off during a polishing or compounding phase. It’s not as easy to see when you are polishing a clear coat, thus the reason for the video.  I would imagine a vast majority of paint polishers don’t clean their pads as often as they should and by using a single stage paint you can easily see how much can build up on the pad.  With this said, many including myself, feel that SS paint does abrade off a bit easier than the newer clear coats out now, either way you will get the idea much easier when you can “see” the paint residue.

The statement of evidence: As you polish/compound paint using an abrasive media and pad, the paint you abrade off the vehicle has to go somewhere. It actually mixes with the abrasives and carrier fluids and all three clump together on the surface of the pad.  If you don’t clean off this menage of products, they will do a couple of things.  They will buffer the abrasives so much the abrasives won’t cut because you have “encapsulated” the abrasive with old paint.  So many detailers will complain that paint is hard as it won’t cut well, when it might well be the paint is being cut so fast that buffering happens quickly.  Another thing that happens is when you are trying to finish down your polishing phase, you will get scouring off paint due to this clumping and re-mar the paint surface with micro scratches.  Both of these conditions can be addressed by cleaning the pad well and starting over, noticing what happens to the surface of the paint once you have a cleaner pad to work with.

Now if you are a fast paced shop or a shop that also installs PPF or tint close to your polishing area, you will be concerned with particulates going airborne.  It might be for you to just use a new pad and only clean your pads at the end of the day.

Video Source: YouTube

Disclaimer this video was done on the fly and lacks a high level of editing and refinement…please forgive my lack of refined oration.

Leave your comments of other suggestions you have for cleaning up pads as you work and check out part 2, where I show exactly how to perform the three techniques mentioned!

Greg Nichols Reflections Detailing
Greg Nichols
Reflections Detailing
Logan, Utah

4 comments on Pad Cleaning Techniques (Part 1)

  1. Frank says:

    Greg I just like listening to you. You have great information and a nice speaking voice . Thanks for teh Tips.

  2. Ray Scott says:

    I clean my pads after every use. I put them in a bucket of water with detergent, let them soak then use a APC with a nylon brush on excessive dirty areas. I have a pad cleaning device with 3 plastic wheels I use occasionally. I mount the pads on the buffer after using Snappy Clean pad cleaner and run the plastic wheels across the pad on a low speed. These are additional tips I will also use. Thank you.

  3. Matt says:

    This is such an important lesson to learn. It took me forever to figure this out. The local detail shop is a good two hour round trip away so I had to learn to clean my pads often (as opposed to having more pads).

    Thanks Greg for showing us how to do it properly.

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