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The 10 Best Rubbing Compounds For Cars

Best Rubbing Compound

Looking to restore your paintwork? Let’s help you find the best rubbing compound for cars.

Contaminants such as dirt, debris, bird droppings, and road schmutz can do a number on a car’s paintwork. Not only do they make it look dirty, but they can also cause scratches and other imperfections.

While simply washing the car is usually all that’s needed to remove the dirt and grime, getting rid of paint imperfections often also requires the use of specialized products such as a high-quality rubbing compound.

We have reviewed some of the best rubbing compounds on the market and put together a thorough buying guide to help you find the right one for your car. Here’s a quick rundown of our top picks:

Best Rubbing Compound Reviews

We considered the following factors, among others, when selecting each rubbing compound. You can read more about each one in the buying guide section:

  • Ingredients: We evaluated the quality of the ingredients, checking for anything that could potentially harm the paint or people.
  • Strength: We considered the abrasiveness of the compound to help you determine the right strength for your needs.
  • Flexibility: Some compounds can only be applied by hand, while others need a polishing machine or other tools. Some can only be used on certain types of paint. We were partial to the products that impose the fewest restrictions.
  • Value: While you get what you pay for, you shouldn’t have to pay an arm and leg for a quality, decent quantity rubbing compound.

1. 3M 05954 Super Duty Rubbing Compound

Number one on our list comes from 3M, a giant in the car care world. 

The 3M Super Duty Rubbing Compound works exceptionally well at removing 1000 and finer scratches on all types of car paints and clearcoats, as well as blemishes, stubborn stains, and heavy oxidation.

It can be applied either by hand or with a polishing machine and stays wet longer than the average rubbing compound to give you more time to treat imperfections. You get a more lustrous appearance for your paintwork with minimal effort.

This aggressive, heavy-cutting compound is also safe on paint since it doesn’t contain silicone, a chemical element that can be harmful to finishes. 3M gives you a reasonably large amount to work with for a reasonable price, so buying a bottle won’t break the bank.

While 3M’s Super Duty Rubbing Compound is a great choice for restoring paint, there are a few things to note. 

First, it’s a highly abrasive compound, so care must be taken to make sure it doesn’t scratch your paint. Second, it has a warning label that states the product “contains chemicals that can cause cancer.”

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Moderate to strong
  • Quantity: 32 oz (946 ml)

Things We Like

  • Delivers high rate of cut
  • Removes deep scratches, stubborn stains, and heavy oxidation effectively
  • Can be applied by hand or machine
  • Stays wet for a long time

What We Don’t Like

  • May contain potentially harmful chemicals

Bottom Line

Whether you’re a professional detailer or a do-it-yourselfer, the 3M Super Duty Rubbing Compound will remove scratches, stains, oxidation, and other imperfections from your paint safely, effectively, and with little effort. CHECK LATEST PRICE

2. No.7 Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound

This paste-based rubbing compound is popular and has been restoring surfaces for years, not least because it works great at restoring paint. 

It’s an aggressive compound but not so abrasive as to make you feel anxious about damaging your paint. It will effectively diminish or remove scratches, stains, blemishes, and paint transfer.

You can use it on various areas of your vehicle, not just paint finishes, as well for household applications. Treating foggy headlights lenses? It works! Oxidized aluminum patio furniture? You bet!

While requiring more elbow grease than liquid-based compounds, the No.7 Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound is fairly easy to use, remove, and buff for a paste product, and its quick cutting process makes it a good option for beginners.

Its high abrasiveness might make it unsuitable for removing light scratches and stains, however. And, interestingly enough, some users reported that it’s not good at removing oxidation.

Product Specs

  • Type: Paste
  • Abrasiveness: Moderate to heavy
  • Quantity: 10 oz (296 ml)

Things We Like

  • Reputable, tried and tested formula
  • Effective at removing scratches, tough stains, heavy oxidation
  • Versatile, works on a wide variety of paint finishes and surfaces
  • Low price

What We Don’t Like

  • Might be too strong for light jobs
  • Probably not the best for removing oxidation

Bottom Line

Whether you are looking to spot treat small scratches, blemishes, and mishaps on your paint, the No.7 Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound is a very simple solution for removing or diminishing such superficial flaws. CHECK LATEST PRICE

3. Griot’s Garage Complete Compound

This advanced rubbing compound from Griot’s Garage makes quick work of imperfections. It uses micro-abrasives to remove water spots, swirl marks, oxidation, and other defects

Not only does the Complete Compound effectively remove imperfections, but it also leaves behind a wax-ready finish and adds a bit of depth and vitality to the paint. 

It’s safe for most paint finishes, including clear coats. Unlike many competing products which use fillers to conceal imperfections rather than eliminate them, Griot’s formula is filler-free.

The solution is easy to use, wipe off, and buff and produces little, if any, dust. It works very well when applied by hand, though using an orbital polisher can increase its effectiveness and speed up the application process. 

Finally, you get a decent size bottle at a very competitive price.

A downside to what is possibly Griot’s Garage’s best rubbing compound for cars is that it’s not a particularly heavy-duty formula. For severe imperfections (large scratches, heavy oxidations, etc.), you might want to look elsewhere.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Light to moderate
  • Quantity: 16 oz (473 ml)

Things We Like

  • Works well on light imperfections
  • Doesn’t contain fillers
  • Safe on most paint finishes
  • Easy to apply, remove, and buff

What We Don’t Like

  • Not effective for major repairs

Bottom Line

The Griot’s Garage Complete Compound handles paint imperfections very well, so long as they are not severe. CHECK LATEST PRICE

4. Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound

This popular rubbing compound uses Meguiar’s exclusive micro-abrasive technology to permanently remove surface defects such as light to moderate scratches, oxidation, stains, and water spots, as well as add some shine and gloss to the finish.

The formula cuts quickly so as not to cause scratches or swirls and doesn’t haze or mar like traditional compounds. Not only does it work on most automotive paint finishes but it’s also safe on single-stage paints and clear coats.

In effect, it delivers the efficiency of harsher rubbing compounds without causing the damage some of them typically do.

Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound will undoubtedly reduce the time and effort it takes to restore your paintwork. Whether applied manually or with an automatic polisher, you’re bound to get great results with little to no hassle. 

But as effective and easy to use as it is, it’s not a heavy-duty rubbing compound. Large scratches, heavy oxidation, and other difficult-to-treat defects may require a stronger, more abrasive compound.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Light to moderate
  • Quantity: 16 oz (473 ml)

Things We Like

  • Removes defects and restores clarity of paint in one step
  • Doesn’t cause scratches, swirls, hazing, or marring
  • Easy to apply by hand or with a machine
  • Works most automotive and clear coats

What We Don’t Like

  • Not great for major paint defects

Bottom Line

While probably not the “ultimate” rubbing compound for removing scratches, water spots, oxidation, and blemishes, Meguiar’s Ultimate Compound is certainly one of the best out there. CHECK LATEST PRICE

5. Turtle Wax T-230A Rubbing Compound

The second paste-based rubbing compound on our list comes from Turtle Wax, a world-renowned car detailing brand that has a strong track record for delivering quality products.

With the Turtle Wax Rubbing Compound, you get a versatile product that can be used for both repairing damage and cleaning. The heavy-duty paste easily penetrates various surfaces to remove deep scratches, stains, blemishes, and other defects. 

It works on a wide variety of paints and surfaces, including chrome and even porcelain, and is easy to apply, remove, and buff, though not as easy as liquid compounds.

Turtle Wax offers the product in a 10.5-ounce container. It’s a bit pricey, but a 6-pack option is also available for those who want to save some money.

Unfortunately, as a paste, it dries much faster than liquid compounds and can take a lot of effort to remove once dried, especially when working by hand.

Product Specs

  • Type: Paste
  • Abrasiveness: Moderate to strong
  • Quantity: 10.5 oz (319 ml)

Things We Like

  • Removes deep scratches and stubborn stains effectively
  • Has cleaning properties
  • Versatile, works on a wide variety of surfaces and paints

What We Don’t Like

  • Takes a lot of effort to remove once dried
  • Pricey

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for an affordable, highly effective paste rubbing compound that can remove deep scratches, tough stains, and heavy oxidation, give this Turtle Wax product a try. CHECK LATEST PRICE

6. Mothers Professional Rubbing Compound

Mothers’ Professional Rubbing Compound is designed for both professional detailers and ordinary Joes. 

It uses the same tried and tested formula found in body shops around the world to quickly and effortlessly remove scratches, water spots, heavy oxidation, and other defects, helping achieve a like-new finish for your car’s paintwork.

This rubbing compound can be safely used on just about any paint finish or clear coat. You can apply it manually, but using a buffer will be easier and likely get you the best results.

It comes in a convenient 12-fluid ounce bottle (not too little; not too much), though there is the option to buy packs of six. While not expensive, it’s a little pricier than comparable products of similar quantity, however.

Mothers Professional Rubbing Compound works more like a heavy car polish than a serious rubbing compound, so it’s not ideal for deep or large scratches, heavy oxidation, and other serious defects.

Also, there have been reports about the product being too watery, resulting in messy application.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Light to moderate
  • Quantity: 12 oz (355 ml)

Things We Like

  • Tried and tested formula
  • Excellent for mild to moderate paint defects
  • Safe for most automotive and clear coats
  • Easy application, removal, and buffing

What We Don’t Like

  • Not ideal for serious repairs
  • Very watery, might be messy to work with

Bottom Line

Mothers Professional Rubbing Compound will give your car a showroom look without much effort or guesswork. CHECK LATEST PRICE

7. Meguiar’s Marine/RV One Step Compound

Yet another rubbing compound from Meguiar’s, this time the Marine/RV One Step Compound, a heavy-duty formula that was specifically developed to both clean gel coat and fiberglass surfaces and depart a high-gloss finish in just one step.

Whether applied by hand or with a polishing machine, it will remove moderate to heavy water spots, scratches, oxidation, and stains with relative ease and in little time.

The Marine/RV One-Step Compound is safe to use on applicable surfaces and cleans without causing any damage to the coat or paint. Use it to great effect on your car, truck, RV, boat, and any other vehicle you might have.

It’s quite expensive, but you get a very generous amount to work with.

One drawback of this rubbing compound from Meguiar’s is that it dries quickly, giving you less time to remove the imperfections than slower-drying compounds. Also, you may have to apply the product a few times to get the designed results.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Moderate to heavy
  • Quantity: 32 oz (946 ml)

Things We Like

  • Great for heavy restorations
  • Repairs, cleans, and shines in one step
  • Very versatile
  • Easy to apply by hand or with a machine

What We Don’t Like

  • Dries quickly
  • May require multiple applications

Bottom Line

While probably not Meguiar’s best rubbing compound, the Marine/RV One Step Compound is a great option for anyone looking for an aggressive but safe cutting compound that cleans and restores surfaces on any type of vehicle. CHECK LATEST PRICE

8. Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Compound

Here’s an inexpensive and versatile rubbing compound from Turtle Wax that’s hard to go wrong with. It works well for removing 1500 grit sanding scratches, heavy swirl marks, and surface blemishes.

The T-415 Premium Grade Compound is a silicone-free formula that’s safe for use on all paint finishes. Not only does it remove imperfections from the finish, but it also restores some of its gloss and prepares it for waxing. 

You can apply the product very easily, either by hand or with a machine polisher. Cotton, microfiber cloth, or foam pads can be used.

As with similar products, you have to be reasonable with your expectations. The Turtle Premium Grade Compound works well for light restorations, but don’t expect it to work miracles on heavy damage.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Light to moderate
  • Quantity: 32 oz (946 ml)

Things We Like

  • Great for light scratches, stains, and blemishes
  • Silicone-free, safe for all automotive paint finishes
  • Flexible application
  • Inexpensive

What We Don’t Like

  • Not the best for serious scratches, stains, and other defects

Bottom Line

An affordable, medium-cutting rubbing compound that repairs damage and helps restore the gloss of your car’s finish. CHECK LATEST PRICE

9. Star Brite Liquid Rubbing Compound

The Star Brite Liquid Rubbing Compound is a good option for removing scratches, stains, and medium oxidation, be they on metal, fiberglass, or painted surfaces.

Two versions of the compound are available, one designed for light to medium oxidation and the other for heavy oxidation. Both can be applied to great effect by hand or with an orbital polisher.

They also don’t set up like many other rubbing compounds, so wiping them off the surface is quick and easy.

As for drawbacks, the Star Brite Liquid Rubbing Compound doesn’t work well on metallic paints and surfaces, and it’s a bit on the expensive side. But considering the good results it delivers on other surfaces, neither are deal-breakers.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Moderate to heavy
  • Quantity: 16 oz (473 ml)

Things We Like

  • Great for heavy light or restorations
  • Very versatile
  • Easy to apply manually or with a machine
  • Wipes off easily and quickly

What We Don’t Like

  • Doesn’t work well on metallic paints
  • A bit expensive

Bottom Line

An effective, easy-to-use rubbing compound that you can rely on to diminish or remove imperfections on a wide variety of surfaces. CHECK LATEST PRICE

10. Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover

If your car has light scratches, stains, swirls, oxidation, or other defects, the Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover might be all you need to diminish or remove them.

Not only will this rubbing compound remove scratches and other imperfections, but it will also help restore your paint’s gloss and shine. It works on all types of paintwork, be it a clear coat, single-stage, or multi-stage paint, and contains no color dyes or scents.

It’s easy enough for anyone to use and even comes with a free application pad for convenience.

Now, while the Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover does a very good job of treating light and even moderate paint imperfections, it may not be the right product for removing more serious defects. It’s also quite expensive.

Product Specs

  • Type: Liquid
  • Abrasiveness: Light to moderate
  • Quantity: 8.4 oz (250 ml)

Things We Like

  • Removes light scratches, swirls, water spots, and oxidation very well
  • Comes with a free application pad
  • Works well on all paints finishes and colors

What We Don’t Like

  • Not for heavy restorations
  • Expensive 

Bottom Line

Using the free included buffer pad, the Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover should allow you to “erase” years of wear and tear from your vehicle’s paint job and improve its appearance. CHECK LATEST PRICE

Rubbing Compound Buying Guide

Rubbing compounds play an important role in restoring the original look and shine of paintwork, but with so many different products on the market, which one should you get?

This detailed buying guide will provide you with all the information you need to find the best rubbing compound for your car, one that delivers a high level of performance for a reasonable price.

What Is Rubbing Compound

A rubbing compound is a liquid or paste substance used to restore old or damaged paintwork. It acts like very fine sandpaper, helping smooth out scratches, blemishes, oxidation, and other imperfections.

Many rubbing compounds also provide a protective layer that helps shield paint against deterioration and damage.

Similar to sandpaper, they come in several grades, each intended for removing scratches, stains, and oxidation of different levels of severity.

Rubbing compounds are generally easy to apply; however, they should only be used after properly washing your vehicle with a quality car wash soap and cleaning its surface of dirt and filth.

Rubbing Compound Vs Polishing Compound

People often make the mistake of thinking that rubbing compounds and polishing compounds are the same products that do the exact same thing. That isn’t so!

Rubbing compounds are designed to smooth out uneven surfaces and severe scratches. As a result, they are formulated with harder and stronger abrasives.

Polishing compounds, on the other hand, typically have a less aggressive formula primarily intended to add smoothness and shine to the paint finish. While capable of correcting light imperfections, they lack the strength for more severe restorations.

Rubbing compounds are, therefore, best used for removing stubborn stains, severe oxidation, and deep scratches and scuffs, while polishing compounds work best for treating watermarks and light stains and scratches.

In fact, after using a rubbing compound, it’s recommended that you follow up with a quality car wax or polish to restore the paint’s shine and protect its finish.

Note: Only use a rubbing compound after trying out less aggressive solutions. Avoid using it for restoring new car paint.

Benefits Of Rubbing Compound

Rubbing compounds are one of the best-kept secrets among professional detailers. They are a small package with big benefits.

Remove Scratches

Rubbing compounds are great for eliminating scratches, stubborn oxidation, and other paint imperfections that the average car polish typically can’t. 

The compound smooths out scratches and scuffs to deliver a more even- and pleasant-looking paint finish.

Protect Your Paint

Oxidation is the bane of every automobile. Leave it alone long enough and it will turn into rust, which will eat a hole in your car’s body, let alone its paint.

A good rubbing compound will help you get rid of oxidized paint, making your paintwork more peel- and crack-resistant.

Versatile

Rubbing compounds have other uses than repairing paint defects. They can also be used to restore other parts of your car (e.g. headlights lenses) that have scratches, oxidations, stains, and what have you.

In fact, the best headlight restoration kits typically have a rubbing compound as their main component.

These products can be used for household projects, as well.

Inexpensive

Why incur the expense of having a professional repair your paintwork if you can do it yourself for a fraction of the money? Rubbing compounds are essentially a scratch remover in a can, allowing you to repair imperfection without the hassle or cost of a full paint job. 

Retain Resale Value

Vehicles with damaged or worn-out paint command less money than those with pristine paintwork. Removing minor scratches and other imperfections using a good rubbing compound for cars or other means will make your car more appealing to potential buyers.

Types Of Rubbing Compound

Rubbing compounds come in two forms: Liquid and paste. While they don’t differ much in their effectiveness, they have certain attributes that might make you prefer one over the other.

Liquid 

Liquid rubbing compounds are the milder of the two types. Usually packaged in a bottle, they have a lower concentration of abrasives but are easier to work into the paint thanks to their low viscosity.

However, because of their low viscosity, applying the product with a polishing machine such as a rotary buffer can cause it to sling to other parts of the vehicle. You get more wastage than using a paste-based rubbing compound.

Paste

Paste rubbing compounds are more aggressive than liquid compounds, making them better for heavy-duty paint restorations. They typically come in a round tin or plastic can and have a very thick consistency that requires more effort to apply and buff.

Pastes are perfect for treating dull, heavily oxidized paint.

Top Rubbing Compound Brands

Considering the nature of rubbing compounds, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that they are manufactured by companies that also make other car detailing products such as car waxes, paint sealants, and ceramic coating.

There isn’t a single best rubbing compound brand, but you’ve probably heard of 3M, Meguiar’s, Griot’s Garage, and Turtle Wax.

3M

Is there anything 3M doesn’t make? In addition to operating in the fields of industry, health care, worker safety, and general consumer goods, the American conglomerate has a strong presence in the automotive sector. 

From chassis paints to oil filters and headlight restoration kits to headliner adhesives, there are hundreds of automotive-related 3M products to choose from. 

The 3M 05954 Super Duty Rubbing Compound is an excellent choice for removing paint imperfections.

Meguiar’s 

Founded in 1901, Meguiar’s is one of the oldest and most reputable brands in car detailing. It offers a wide selection of products not just for car enthusiasts and restorers but also do-it-yourselfers like yourself.

If you’re looking for a quality rubbing compound, put Meguiar’s G17216 Ultimate Compound on your list.

Griot’s Garage

Griot’s Garage has been making car wash soaps, waxes, polishes, cleaners, and other car care products since 1990. These products are made to high-quality standards and stack up well against the competition.

The Griot’s Garage 10862 Complete Compound is a sophisticated but easy-to-use rubbing compound that delivers very good results.

Turtle Wax

Turtle Wax is another well-known car brand that has been in the business of making car care products for decades. Whether you need a hybrid ceramic wax, chrome polish, rubbing compound, or tire shine, Turtle Wax likely has something for you.

One of the brand’s top sellers is the Turtle Wax Premium Grade Rubbing Compound.

Rubbing Compound Pricing

Rubbing compounds are relatively inexpensive products that can be purchased at most auto parts stores, as well as online. The goal is to find an effective, high-quality product that offers a good quantity at a reasonable price. 

Budget: Under $10

Don’t be fooled by the price — you will find a variety of very good rubbing compounds in this price range. However, expect to get only a small amount to work with.

Mid-Range: $10 to $20

Most rubbing compounds fall in this price range. Not only do you get a variety of high-quality products from just about every brand, but you also get a very decent amount to work with.

Some even come with cleaning accessories such as an applicator.

Premium: Over $20

You find bulk rubbing compounds in this price range, either packaged as sets or contained in large bottles. Quality is nearly identical to the mid-rage products, but you usually get a better value.

Features Of The Best Rubbing Compound

Rubbing compounds have been commoditized over the decades, but that doesn’t mean you should buy the first one you see. The ingredients and abrasiveness of the formula, as well as the quantity and application method, are key factors you should consider.

Ingredients 

As effective as a rubbing compound might be at removing imperfections, it can damage your paint rather than improve it if its formula contains toxic ingredients.

Silicone, for instance, acts as a paint adhesive and is prone to leaving smears, while some less expensive rubbing compounds may contain toxic ingredients that can prove harmful to your health. 

Whatever the case, always read the product label to make sure there is nothing in the compound that can harm you or your paint. Try to only go for silicone-free products.

Abrasiveness

The effectiveness of a rubbing compound is mostly determined by its level of abrasiveness. Fine or mildly abrasive compounds work well for removing light scratches, stains, and oxidation, but deep scratches and heavy oxidation often require a medium-to-coarse-grit product.

Before choosing a rubbing compound, check that the level of abrasiveness is appropriate for the job. Too much abrasiveness can damage your paint if the damage is minor, while too little will prove ineffective on severe restorations.

Application Method

Not all rubbing compounds are applied the same. Some can only be applied by hand, while others require the use of a polishing machine and/other application tools.

Liquid compounds are generally easy to apply manually or with a machine polisher, but paste compounds are best applied by hand though to their thick consistency.

Always consider how the rubbing compound is designed to be applied. It would be a waste of time and possibly money to buy one that requires an orbital polisher when you don’t have such a tool.

Quantity

How big is the project and how much of the rubbing compound do you expect to use? Do you plan to use it on multiple vehicles? You want to make sure the compound you go with provides a sufficient amount for the job at hand. 

Buying in bulk is a good way to save money if you’re a detailer and have a steady stream of vehicles to work on but probably not a smart idea if all you’ll be working on is your personal car. A rubbing compound can deteriorate if not used for extended periods. 

Paint Type

Some types of car paint handle compounding better than others. Solid colors, for instance, can withstand light-to-mild-grit rubbing compound fairly well, but metallic and pearlescent paints more readily show swirl marks.

Matte paint can’t be compounded as doing so can cause unwanted shine on the surface and possibly even irreversible damage.

How To Use Rubbing Compound

Using a rubbing compound requires some elbow grease, but the process is fairly simple and straightforward.

Preparation

Of course, your car needs to be washed thoroughly before the rubbing compound can be applied. Using such a product on a dirty car won’t get you good results. 

It’s also important to assess your paintwork for the severity of the imperfection. If you’re only dealing with small scratches, swirls, watermarks, or light oxidation, the strong abrasive properties of a rubbing compound might be too excessive. 

A polishing compound is less abrasive and should deliver desirable results, so consider that.

Rubbing compounds are best suited for removing deeper and larger scratches, heavy oxidation, stubborn stains, and other imperfections of that nature.

Finally, it’s recommended that you work in a cool and shaded area. This will prevent the rubbing compound from drying too quickly, giving you more time to perform the repair.

Application

Once you have properly washed and dried your car and determined that a rubbing compound is the best product for the job, follow these steps to apply it:

Step 1. Apply a little bit of the compound onto a damp clean applicator pad, cloth, or towel.

Step 2. Rub the affected surface using a back and forth or “swirl” motion, making sure to apply pressure gently.

Step 3. Using a soft, clean cloth or a polishing machine, remove the excess rubbing compound before it dries, and buff lightly.

Step 4. Check the results of your work; reapply the rubbing compound as needed.

Note: Rubbing compounds dull the paint finish wherever used, so it’s recommended that you apply car polish, wax, or other polishing agents after the treatment to restore the shine that was lost during the restoration. 

Rubbing Compound Tips

Here are some important tips for using a rubbing compound safely and effectively.

  • Compounding too often can damage your car’s paint, so use a rubbing compound only when you have ruled out or exercised or other options.
  • To keep the rubbing compound wet for as long as possible so that you have more time to treat the damage, make sure the surface is cool and work in a shaded area.
  • The compound should be applied thinly and evenly. Applying too much can cause polishing oils to build up, resulting in streaks and smears when removing the product.
  • For maximum effectiveness, divide the affected surface into 1-2 square foot sections and work on one section at a time. Use light to moderate pressure when working the compound onto the surface.
  • Compounding a vehicle can be a messy job, especially if a rotary buffer is used. Keep items, kids, and pets away from your car or truck to prevent rubbing compound from slinging onto them.

Rubbing Compound FAQs

What to learn more about rubbing compounds? Check out the answers to these popular questions.

Are Polishing Compounds And Rubbing Compounds The Same?

No. While both compounds help restore worn or scratched paintwork, rubbing compounds are a stronger, more abrasive solution and do a better job of removing deeper and larger scratches, heavy oxidation, and stubborn stains.

Polishing compounds, on the other hand, are more optimized for cleaning and shining the paint.

How Often Can I Use Rubbing Compound?

Rubbing compounds should be used sparingly and only for severe scratches, heavy oxidation, and other serious paint imperfections.

These products contain abrasives that remove some of a car’s clear coat to reach and restore the damaged paint. Excessive use will, therefore, accelerate the wearing down of your clear coat and paint.

Can Rubbing Compound Damage Car Paint?

Yes. By design, rubbing compounds thin out paint in order to remove scratches and other imperfections, so using them haphazardly can potentially lead to paint damage.

But in the right hands, a rubbing compound won’t cause irreversible damage to a car’s paintwork. Just make sure to use it sparingly, and be careful when applying it.

What Are Some Good Rubbing Compounds?

There are many quality, highly effective rubbing compounds on the market, both in stores and online. Not only does this guide highlight some of the best currently available, but it also provides you with the information you need to find one.

Final Thoughts

Rubbing compounds are an effective and inexpensive way to remove scratches, stains, oxidation, and other imperfections from paint. If applied properly, they can help restore your car’s paint job to a like-new condition without causing damage.

To that end, we reviewed a collection of the top rubbing compounds currently available and provided a detailed buying guide to help you find the right one for your particular detailing needs.

What is the best rubbing compound for cars? For us, it’s the 3M Super Duty Rubbing Compound, not least because its highly advanced formula is effective, works on just about every paint surface, and can be applied easily.  

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