BoatingLAB Test: Cleaner Wax | Boating Magazine

BoatingLAB Test: Cleaner Wax

Find out which cleaner wax is best for your boat.

Star brite Cleaner Wax with PTEF
$24.99; West Marine

Category: Marine

Description: This petroleum-based polish is neutral beige in tone and contains UV inhibitors and PTEF, Star brite’s trademark for polytetrafluoroethylene. PTEF is said to repel water and stains, and its presence in a Star brite deck wash that we have used makes future deck cleanings easier.

Comments: This was one of the most damaged test patches. We didn’t expect to see so much correction so easily.

Contrast: We wanted to measure contrast between waxed and unwaxed areas, but it wasn’t entirely fair. Some areas had significantly more damage. However, Star brite’s wax did an exemplary job of removing oxidation, clearly visible after the tape was removed.

Best Reflectivity Before: 10 inches
Best Reflectivity After: 20 inches
Worst Reflectivity Before: 3 inches
Worst Reflectivity After: 14 inches

Best Improved (Inches): 10/25
Worst Improved (Inches): 11/25
Best Reflectivity (Inches): 20/25
Beading/Spot Resistance: 3/3

Total Score: 44

3M Cleaner & Wax
$22.99; West Marine

Category: Marine

Description: This beige paste had no distinctive aroma, though the label indicates that petroleum distillates, carnauba and other waxes along with two polishing compounds are in the combustible formula. Swallowing or inhaling the vapors is harmful.

Comments: This test patch was one of the least sun-damaged of all. Improvement from waxing was noticeable with the naked eye, but it had the least room for improvement.

Contrast: Oddly, in spite of the high luster and improvement, the waxed area had a slightly translucent glaze not found in the gelcoat protected by tape.

Best Reflectivity Before: 20 inches
Best Reflectivity After: 22 inches
Worst Reflectivity Before: 10 inches
Worst Reflectivity After: 14 inches

Best Improved (Inches): 2/25
Worst Improved (Inches): 4/25
Best Reflectivity (Inches): 22/25
Beading/Spot Resistance: 2/3

Total Score: 30

Meguiar’s 50 Cleaner Wax
$19.99; West Marine

Category: Marine

Description: The white liquid is petroleum based, but unidentified ingredients are noted on the label for the purpose of providing protection from salt, corrosion and ultraviolet light.

Comments: Meguiar’s is one of the oldest premium brands in auto, boat and RV care products. It scored well, removing not the heaviest oxidation in our test but cleaning seriously damaged gelcoat. We were surprised, though, by the finish’s low resistance to water spots.

Contrast: Still another product challenged by severe sun damage, the 50 Cleaner Wax took down the haze and left a shiny finish.

Best Reflectivity Before: 11 inches
Best Reflectivity After: 17 inches
Worst Reflectivity Before: 8 inches
Worst Reflectivity After: 15 inches

Best Improved (Inches): 6/25
Worst Improved (Inches): 7/25
Best Reflectivity (Inches): 17/25
Beading/Spot Resistance: 2/3

Total Score: 32

Mother’s Brazilian Carnauba Cleaner Wax
$7.97; Walmart

Category: Auto

Description: Although the label of this white paste bears the usual application instructions and says that it is Brazilian carnauba, there are no claims as to content on the label. There is a “harmful if swallowed” warning on the bottle.

Comments: With packaging designed for automotive buyers, we weren’t sure what to expect. However, it corrected heavy sun damage to the gelcoat along with damage from improper use of a hull cleaning agent. The cleaner wax didn’t erase it but improved it.

Contrast: There was a strong, hazy ­contrast between the treated and ­untreated surface.

Best Reflectivity Before: 11 inches
Best Reflectivity After: 18 inches
Worst Reflectivity Before: 5 inches
Worst Reflectivity After: 13 inches

Best Improved (Inches): 7/25
Worst Improved (Inches): 8/25
Best Reflectivity (Inches): 18/25
Beading/Spot Resistance: 2/3

Total Score: 35

Pure Oceans NanoTec Cleaner Wax
$24.99; West Marine

Category: Marine

Description: According to the label, biodegradable citrus oil, not petroleum products, make its base. Nanotechnology particles provide protection and enhance shine. No claims of UV protection are indicated for it.

Comments: The citrus oil had a pleasant aroma. Rather than creamy, this product came from the bottle somewhat coagulated, but it still smeared on and buffed off well. It had a tough job and did well.

Contrast: This was a good product and created a strong improvement in gloss in its highly sun-damaged test patches.

Best Reflectivity Before: 10 inches
Best Reflectivity After: 17 inches
Worst Reflectivity Before: 3 inches
Worst Reflectivity After: 13 inches

Best Improved (Inches): 7/25
Worst Improved (Inches): 10/25
Best Reflectivity (Inches): 17/25
Beading/Spot Resistance: 1/3

Total Score: 35

Zymöl Cleaner Wax
$14.99; Walmart

Category: Auto

Description: This water-based wax is described as containing natural carnauba, beeswax, vitamin E, aloe vera and almond meal, among other polishing agents. Its light blue color gave us cause for suspicion, so we tested it on a white and a navy blue patch.

Comments: This was one wax designed for autos that surprised us. Our wax test on white gelcoat left no blue discoloration, something we’ve experienced with other dyed auto waxes.

Contrast: Zymöl was used on our toughest spot, thanks to its position in the alphabet. Contrast in gloss between unwaxed and waxed was dramatic.

Best Reflectivity Before: **10 inches
**Best Reflectivity After:
17 inches
Worst Reflectivity Before: 5 inches
Worst Reflectivity After: 13 inches

Best Improved (Inches): 7/25
Worst Improved (Inches): 8/25
Best Reflectivity (Inches): 17/25
Beading/Spot Resistance: 2/3

Total Score: 34

Dozens of brands of marine cleaner wax line your marine store shelf. A couple can be found in the boating section of any discount store. And, to compound the puzzle, there are dozens more cleaner waxes for automobiles that are supposedly not good for your boat.

We will tell you right now, some are not. But there are some we would recommend.

How We Tested
In our BoatingLAB wax test from April 2012, we compared several waxes, polishes and cleaner waxes to compare shine. We tested Turtle Wax against the marine brands and thought Turtle Wax went on easier, polished off quicker and created a brighter shine, but the green hue of the wax tinted the white gelcoat of our test boat.

So this year our test field includes only waxes designated as cleaner waxes, and the two car waxes.

Application
First, we washed our test boat, a faded navy-blue boat that gets too much exposure to the sun. After drying it, we taped off the hull in sections, one section per wax. Then we aimed a tape measure at the surface and noted the highest distance from the surface we could read the tape in the reflection. We picked the worst and the best spots in each test patch.

Using a clean buff pad, we spread enough wax to cover the area. Then, with an electric orbital buffer and terry cloth bonnets, we waxed on and waxed off.

Test Criteria
Reflectivity
Again, we held the ruler up to the surface and noted how far up the ruler we could clearly distinguish gradients on both the worst and best areas in the test patch. We averaged the results.

Spotting Resistance
A good wax job should bead and shed water. We sprayed the sections from a distance of 6 feet with a hose nozzle and let it stand five minutes in full sun. We gave three points to the products that spotted least and fewer points for more spotting.

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