If you want to keep your car in great condition, everyone knows it needs regular cleaning and possibly waxing. However, during its life, any car is likely to pick up tiny imperfections, scratches and blemishes in its paintwork, and they need fixing too.
The best way to rectify this kind of minor damage from daily wear and tear is to use a rubbing compound – so here are our top picks for best rubbing compound to help you choose the right one for you.
Best Rubbing Compound
1. Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover Our Top Pick
If you need to remove imperfections from your car’s paintwork, this 8.4oz bottle of rubbing compound could be just the thing. It contains professional-grade cleaning chemicals and is easy for anyone to use. You can apply it by hand or with an orbital buffer.
One positive with this product is that it works on all types of paintwork, whether you have clear coat, single-stage or multi-stage paint. The product has no color dyes or odor and is also suitable for use on any color of paint, making this a highly versatile compound.
With this compound, you will be able to effectively remove swirls and light scratches at the same time as restoring your vehicle’s original shine. It is also useful for removing water spots, oxidization and most other imperfections in your car’s paint job.
The main issue you may have is if your expectations are unrealistically high. This product does a great job at removing many light and even medium scratches, but if you expect it to remove deep gashes, you may be disappointed – although it will still help reduce their visibility.
Overall, this is a recommended product that does an impressive job of restoring paintwork. This is a USA-made product that is an inexpensive way of restoring your car’s gloss, and as such, is well worth checking out.
2. Adam’s Polishes New Heavy Correcting Compound
While many rubbing compounds are designed for use on minor imperfections, swirls and light scratches, this compound has been created to take care of more serious jobs, including medium to heavy scratches. It is heavier-cut, allowing for faster correction of deeper damage.
It is designed for use with Adam’s Blue Foam or Microfiber Cutting Pad from the same company, although it will probably work just as well with other application methods.
This compound is silicone-free and boasts a dust-free formula that makes it safer and more convenient to use. It is body shop safe, and it even has a pleasant odor rather than the pungent smells often associated with such products.
It’s also made in the USA, something that might be important to some people.
Since it’s compatible with just about any types of paint, it can be used on single stage paintwork, clear coats, lacquer paints and more. The results are also likely to exceed your expectations since it takes care of even some of the more serious scratches your car can suffer.
One slight negative is that it tends to dry quite quickly – this might not be a problem for some people, but it means you need to work quickly when you’re applying it.
Other than this minor gripe, this is a very effective compound that will help repair even some of the more serious scratches on your vehicle. If that sounds like what you need, this could be a solid option.
3. Niteo Products 08610-EACH Single Rubbing Compound
This is a universal rubbing compound from Niteo Products that’s safe for clear coat surfaces as well as any other type of paintwork. It is a reliable product that has been around for many years, and it still does the same job it always has.
With this rubbing compound, you can restore the shine to dulled paintwork. It is effective at cleaning and smoothing rough patches, and it is capable of removing even some of the deeper scratches your car may have picked up.
Perhaps the best thing about this product is simply the results it is capable of producing. With this compound, you will see even some of the more stubborn blemishes and imperfections disappear – you just need to be ready to spend time working with it if you do it by hand.
Something that some people might see as a negative is the fact that this compound is more abrasive than some others, and if you aren’t experienced, you will need to be careful when using it.
However, this is also part of the reason why it is so effective – just test it on a less visible area to check the results before you get to work and you should be fine.
All in all, this is a powerful compound that can produce top results in the right hands. As long as you know what you are doing, this is a product that will restore your car’s paintwork to its former glory. Another product that’s well worth a look.
4. Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound
For an inexpensive and versatile rubbing compound, you can hardly go wrong with this product from Turtle Wax. It is ideal for removing scratches and heavy swirls from your paintwork and also does an excellent job on other blemishes and sanding scratches.
The formula is free of silicone, making it suitable for professional detailing work as well as paint and body shops. Furthermore, it can be applied by hand or using an orbital or rotary polisher. For best results, you can use cotton, microfiber or foam pads.
If you need to restore the gloss to dulled paint or prepare a surface for waxing, this compound can be used, and it is suitable for all finishes. In short, this rubbing compound is perfect for just about any job and any situation, making it an ideal product to have at hand.
As with some other similar products, the only big issue is going to be if you have unreasonable expectations for what it’s capable of since it can’t work miracles on major damage. However, for more minor details, it performs as well as you could hope.
This is an excellent product for anyone who needs a rubbing compound to fix up their car’s damaged paint job, and since it’s so affordable, it would also be a great option simply to have ready in your garage in case it’s ever needed. A big thumbs-up from us.
5. Meguiar’s G17220 Ultimate Polishing Compound
Meguiar’s Ultimate compound features special micro-abrasive technology that allows it to remove all kinds of blemishes and imperfections much faster than regular rubbing compounds while at the same time not leaving any fine scratches, swirls or marks.
Effective at removing light to medium oxidation, scratches, water spots and other blemishes, this product is a top choice for restoring paintwork to a shiner, glossier condition. It is clear coat-safe and can also be used on single stage paint jobs.
Meguiar’s is an all-American company with over 100 years of experience in producing car care products, and this is another excellent addition to their range. Using this product will allow you to improve your car’s appearance quickly and with a minimum of effort.
This compound is also suitable for use either manually or with a powered polisher. Either method will give you great premium-quality results, and in less time than if you were using many other comparable products.
On the downside, this product is designed for lighter scratches and perhaps some medium scratches. However, if you use it on more significant damage, you will probably find that the results are not satisfactory – for this, better options exist.
However, if you are looking for a reliable product that will help you keep your car in great condition with a paint job that looks as good as new, this compound from a well-respected brand is one that should be high on your list of possibilities.
6. Meguiar’s G18016 Clear Coat Safe Rubbing Compound
This is another rubbing compound from trusted brand Meguiar’s, this time one designed to be applied by hand only. It is inexpensive yet highly effective and could be a great option if you are looking for a compound for use on a broad range of surfaces.
As you may guess from the name, this product is designed to be safe for use on clear coat paintwork. It is equally as effective on all kinds of glossy coats – although note that it is not suitable for use on flat, matte or satin finishes.
The advantage with this compound is its unique abrasiveness that allows you to clean the surface of the paint without leaving scouring, hazing or scratches. It is good for dealing with oxidization, light to medium scratches, stains and other defects below the surface of the paint.
Other than the fact that this compound is designed for hand application only and shouldn’t be used with machine polishers, you will also not be able to achieve quite the same premium results as with the Ultimate Compound from the same company that we looked at above.
Also, it is less effective at dealing with some of the more significant scratches you may find on your vehicle – and if that’s the kind of problem you need to deal with, you might be better off looking elsewhere.
In sum, this is a highly recommended option for anyone who needs a rubbing compound for manual application that will do a good job of restoring dulled paintwork and repairing minor blemishes. If that’s what you need, this could be an obvious pick.
7. 3M Auto Care Rubbing Compound
This rubbing compound from 3M is a great all-round option if you are looking for something to help keep your car’s paint job in top shape. It also works well for restoring neglected paintwork, and it can also be used to clean up hazy headlights.
We like the way that this compound can be used on a broad range of surfaces, including clear coats, lacquer and enamel. It creates a fine finish and features a fast-cut formula that helps speed up the process of using it.
This compound excels at dealing with oxidation, and it will remove even heavier spots. It also works well on light scratches and even some deeper ones.
Furthermore, it is also effective at removing water spots and swirls, meaning that as long as you don’t have any serious damage, this product could be the only compound you need.
It is suitable for both hand application and for use with a machine polisher. However, on the downside, if you do it manually, you will have to be ready to spend some extra time on the job since it requires a bit of work to achieve top results.
In short, this is a great product for a range of uses that will make short work of many of the problems car owners commonly need to deal with. A useful product to have handy whenever your car’s paint needs some work to bring it back to its best.
8. 3M Perfect-It Rubbing Compound
The Perfect-It rubbing compound is another product from 3M, and the company claims this is their best-performing and fastest-cutting compound. It is perfect for dealing with sand scratches of P1200 grade and finer and also works well with other surface defects.
With a unique combination of mineral and chemical technology, it is designed for the kind of newer clear coats commonly used nowadays. It performs well on car paintwork but can also be used for marine surfaces as well as for cleaning and clearing car headlights.
This product can be used for paint, gelcoat and fiberglass surfaces – and the company recommends using it with their Perfect-It compounding pads that are designed to go with it.
This should give the most consistent and smooth finish, although using other application techniques will also yield highly professional results.
The main downside here is that, as a top-quality product, the price is also much higher than for many other similar rubbing compounds. However, if you want the very best results, you have to expect to pay more, and we still consider it to be excellent value for money.
If you are willing to stump up the extra cash, this is an exceptional product that will help you keep your car looking in great shape. For anyone who cares about maintaining their paintwork in perfect condition, this compound is worth considering.
9. 3M 05973 Rubbing Compound
Here we have another high-quality rubbing compound from 3M that is ideal for dealing with a range of imperfections in car paintwork, including sand scratches, oxidation, swirls and water spots. It will also work well for cleaning up hazy headlights.
This compound is suitable for many types of surfaces, including clear coats, lacquer and enamel. It works to restore a glossy look to your vehicle’s paintwork with less effort and leaves only minima,l hardly visible swirl marks from its application.
You can apply this product either by hand or with a machine polisher such as an orbital polisher – although, of course, doing it manually will require more time to achieve the same level of results.
Like the product above, this compound is a little on the expensive side, although it’s good value for the price. Otherwise, it’s hard to find any faults with this item since it does exactly what it was designed for and does it well.
To summarize, a reliable product from a reliable brand. This is a product you can trust when you need to perk up your car’s dulled paintwork or eliminate imperfections in its surface. Another top pick for us.
10. Griot’s Garage 10862 Complete Buffing Compound
This rubbing compound from Griot’s Garage is an inexpensive product that is capable of producing exceptional results. It includes micro-abrasives that can help eliminate swirl marks, water spots and a range of other similar kinds of blemishes.
What we really love about this product is how easy it is to use. You only need one pass to apply it, after which you simply wipe it off – and you’re done. It can be applied by hand, although the company that makes it recommends using an orbital polisher for the best results.
If you are looking for a compound for a range of applications, this is an option that should fit the bill. It is safe for all finishes, and something else we appreciate is that it produces very little dust when you work with it. It is also free of any fillers.
The only main downside is that this is not designed as a heavy-duty compound, which means if your car has more significant scratches, you might be better off looking for something that can deal with deeper damage.
However, if you don’t need a rubbing compound for major repair work, this is a product that will help keep your car looking great. If that’s the kind of thing you’re looking for, this affordable option should be of interest.
Let’s first talk very briefly about what rubbing compound is – after that, we can have a look at some of the features you should look for when choosing.
What is rubbing compound?
Rubbing compounds are something you can apply to your car’s paintwork to restore its gloss and luster. They are usually mildly abrasive and work by removing an extremely fine layer of the surface, revealing a cleaner, shiner layer below.
Rubbing compound can also help conceal scratches in the paintwork as well as dealing with other imperfections such as water spots, swirls and so on.
It shouldn’t be confused with wax. Waxing is what you do after using a compound and protects the paintwork after it has been restored.
How to choose
Here are the main points you should consider when choosing the best rubbing compound for your car.
Some rubbing compounds include silicone in the ingredients, but this should be avoided. Silicone can act as a paint adhesive and may damage your paintwork rather than improve it. It also tends to leave smears, so choosing a silicone-free compound is preferable.
- Toxic ingredients
Some less expensive compounds may also include toxic ingredients that are harmful to your health. It is recommended that you avoid these since you don’t want to end up making yourself sick.
- Application method
Some compounds are designed to be applied manually while others are formulated specifically for use with orbital polishers, etc. Some compounds can also be used either manually or with a machine polisher.
When choosing, bear in mind how you will be applying the compound and choose accordingly. There’s no point choosing a compound that’s intended for an orbital polisher if you don’t own one.
- Paint type
An important consideration is the type of paintwork a compound is made to be used on. It is possible to buy all-purpose compounds that can be used on most paint types, but some are more limited in their uses.
This means that when choosing, you should pay attention to the type of paint a compound is made for and choose one that will work well on your car.
- Abrasive level
Compounds are sold with different levels of abrasiveness, with the more aggressive, more abrasive versions designed for tougher jobs.
If you need to restore a paint job that is very dirty and in poor condition, you should choose a more abrasive version. However, if you just need a product for regular maintenance, you should choose something gentler as this will allow your car’s paint to last longer.
Some compounds are made for use on all colors while others are color-specific. For the general user, all-color compounds are probably sufficient. Color-specific versions are only necessary if you are a true perfectionist when it comes to looking after your vehicle.
Many effective products available
As you can see, there is a broad range of products available, and each has its advantages and disadvantages. By choosing the right rubbing compound for your car, you can ensure that it remains in great condition for a long time to come.
If you are looking for a rubbing compound to spruce up your car’s paintwork but are unsure which one to choose, any of the options in our review would be a great place to start looking.