DetailingWiki Newsletter
    Get free and automatic updates on new articles
    We respect your privacy. No data is used for anything other than sending the newsletter!


What is stripping

Written by:

Stripping is the act of removing a certain product/residue/film from a surface, often with the purpose of re-applying a new product. Stripping can be done chemically or mechanically and is a common step when re-applying a new form of protection.

Why the need for stripping

When you apply a sealant to a surface, the sealant will not deteriorate completely over time. Residue will stay behind. Before you can re-apply a new form of protection, it is important to strip the surface from all residue of old layers of protection. The old layer might contain contamination and will be a fragile foundation for the new product. Stripping the old layers completely and give the new product a perfectly clean surface to bond with. Not all products are removed with the same ease or via the same method. Certain coatings are so difficult to remove that heavy polishing or even wetsanding is required.

Different ways of stripping

Stripping can be done in 2 different ways. Depending on the product or the type of residue, the approach of stripping differs.


Chemical stripping is done by applying a certain chemical, that will break down the product and remove the bond it has with the surface underneath. Different examples of chemical stripping are: IPA, traffic film remover and paint thinner. These products are capable of removing certain products or residue by simply coming into contact with it. There is usually very little need to rub it in, or apply pressure/friction to the chemical. The removal is often done by either rinsing it off or wiping it off.


Mechanical stripping can be seen as the use of friction and abrasion to remove a very controlled layer from the surface. If the residue is softer then the original surface underneath, the abrasive action will remove the residue without affecting the original surface underneath very much. The term “mechanical” refers to the moving action that uses friction and/or abrasion to directly interact with the material that needs to be removed. Examples of mechanical stripping are: claying, polishing, wetsanding and denibbling. Not all forms of mechanical stripping are always required. And some methods should only be used when another method has been done before. For example, you should not polish or wetsand if you haven’t clayed the surface first.
Chemical stripping can help to make mechanical stripping easier. In some cases it is easier and safer to only strip by chemicals.

Different related articles

  • The difference between using warm or cold water
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    Some prefer to wash with warm water, others prefer to wash with cold water. Although the experience of working with it may be different, it is not completely clear what the difference is in the effect it has on a product or a surface....
  • OCD Finish
    OCD Finish is an English manufacturer and seller of detailing products. The brand was setup by the annoynce of having to buy many different products from different sources. It started out with 2 owners and is run by Neil Trew at the moment....
  • Fix microfibers washed with fabric softener
    Washing your microfiber towels with a fabric softener is a very bad idea. It will clog up the microfibers, and make the microfiber loose its special properties. This guide might help you to restore them as much as possible. Even though this guide has helped several people, keep in mind that it is very likely that you'll need to replace the towels....
  • The “best” product
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    It is often asked on detailing fora and social media: "what is the best XXXX". Off course there is a difference between certain products and brands, but it is important to know what you are asking. In this guide I will try to explain what the problem is with this question unless it is asked more in-depth....
  • What are brushes
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    Detailing brushes come in all types and sizes and can be used for several different tasks. In general, these are aimed at scrubbing but can sometimes also be used to reach an area that is difficult to reach with a microfiber towel....
  • Why its important to rinse
    After washing a vehicle, the recommended step is to rinse the soap off. But not everybody actually knows why its recommended. Why not just dry off the soap and with it, the vehicle? Rinsing is one of the many steps of washing a car properly. And shouldn't be skipped, unless you are using a rinseless of waterless washing products....

Links to this article

There are no external links to this article. Yet.

Stay up to date with our free newsletter
Always be the first to know about new updates, articles and other informative content.
Don't miss out, opt in!
We respect your privacy. No data is used for anything other than sending the newsletter!