Keeping it Simple - Straight Talk about Dressings for Rubber, Plastic and Vinyl

by Scott Ellis - Date: 2007-03-28 - Word Count: 771 Share This!

Ever roll into your local auto parts store to get some car care supplies, for example - dressings for tires, trim or your interior? With the vast array of products available, it is confusing to say the very least!

Considering your choices, combined with all slick packaging, hard to see sizes, and pretty pictures - all these products are competing for your hard earned dollars. The result is confusion of what product to buy for what application. Do you use the same product to dress and protect tires as you do for your leather seats?

Let's keep it simple, folks! This isn't rocket science - we're talking about dressings here. Hopefully this article will give you some insight into the choosing the right product for the right job.

Basically, there are two kinds of dressings - Water Based Dressings and Solvent Based Dressings. So look at what we've done here - grouped all of the dressings into two options. I don't know about you, but I can get my arms around 2 choices pretty easy. We all like keeping things simple.

Both Water Based and Solvent Based dressings have their rightful place and use, and have different properties, pros and cons. In keeping with our "simple" theme and as a general rule of thumb, here's the skinny: Use Water Based dressings on the inside of your ride and Solvent Based dressings on the outside. Pretty simple, isn't it?

Why the inside / outside choice, you ask? Simple! When water hits a Water Based Dressing - it tends to fall down, fall apart, poof - gone. Water Based Dressings generally don't stand up to the elements as well as Solvent Based Dressings do.

Solvent Based Dressings tend to repel water, much like water beading from a waxed finish on your car. In my opinion, Solvent Based Dressings also give a more rich, luster-like finish and do an excellent job of bringing back the fading of vinyl and rubber typically seen on the outside of your vehicle. The bottom line is that Solvent Based Dressings are longer lasting and more durable when constantly exposed to the elements.

- A little more detail about Water Based Dressings

Most of the dressings available at retail stores come in a ready to use formula. The downside of this is, if you don't like the particular finish of these products, you are stuck with it. For example, you might want a more of a matte finish instead of an out-of-bottle glossy finish a product might provide. You figure, since it's water based, you should dull it down with water, right? Not so.

Most of these dressings aren't designed to be mixed with water, and now you have worthless bottle. As well, we have all had the experience when these dressings really never dry to the touch and become a big dust magnet. Well, you figure, so much for dressing and protecting your interior, right? Not so!

Water Based Dressings that the professionals use actually dry to the touch AND are designed to be mixed with water to give you the exact finish you desire. But the best part is they don't usually cost any more than their retail counterparts!

- A little more about Solvent Based Dressings

Solvent Based Dressings tend to do a better job at restoring faded trim and plastic, offer excellent UV protection and are easy to apply. To get the finish you want, instead of diluting these products like Water Based Dressings, simply wipe the dressing on with an applicator to get your desired finish. More equals a higher gloss, less a lower gloss. For those who want a high-gloss finish on their tires, simply spray the dressing on and let it dry. For those who prefer a lower gloss, wipe the dressing while wet to get their desired finish.

In addition to tires, a good Solvent Based Dressing can also be used to dress and protect all of the rubber, plastic and vinyl trim on the outside of your ride.

- Lastly, one more Specialty Dressing - a cleaner and conditioner in one

There is one more category of dressings that should be mentioned here - a cleaner and conditioner combined. For example, one of the most delicate interior surfaces of your ride is leather. The key to keeping leather nice is delicate cleaning and proper conditioning to keep it supple and protected. Check this out for simple - wipe the product on and then wipe it off. In most cases, these specialty products are also scented like leather.


Don't let all the choices and hype about dressings confuse you. Use Solvent Based dressings for the outside, Water Based Dressings for treating and protecting the inside and consider Specialty Dressings for cleaning and conditioning delicate surfaces such as leather.

Related Tags: car care, dressing, jaxwax, jax wax

Scott Ellis is from Jax Wax Distribution Systems and is responsible for distributing Jax Wax Car Care Products retail worldwide. Jax Wax Car Care Products are widely used in commercial businesses such as detail shops, body shops, and auto dealers. Jax Wax is now packaging its products in smaller quantities for the consumer market. You can get fast, commercial quality results by doing the detail work yourself. For more information, go to or call 877-7JAXWAX.

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