Car Care

The 10 Best Rubbing Compounds of 2021

Best Rubbing Compound

Getting your car scratched is often frustrating, but luckily, a rubbing compound is all you need to get the paint job's glory back.

Rubbing compounds are abrasive materials for restoring a vehicle's paint surface. These products remove old, oxidized paint and polish out scratches to leave the surface looking fresher than before.

However, rubbing compounds come in different forms, sizes, and levels of abrasiveness. Hence, this makes it difficult to choose a good product from the many offers in the market.

In this review, we provide a list of the best rubbing compounds in the market, plus a buying guide to help you make the right choice.

10 Best Rubbing Compounds – Review

IMAGE

PRODUCT

FEATURES

Griot's Garage 10863 16-Oz Rubbing Compound

1. Griot's Garage 10863 (Best Overall)

  • Advanced formula
  • Safe for all paint finishes
  • More user friendly
  • Does not contain any fillers
3M Perfect-It 06085 One-Quart Rubbing Compound

2. 3M 06085 (Best for Coated Surface)

  • Works on gel-coated surfaces
  • Fast cutting formula
  • Leaves a fine finish
  • Removes oxidation & scratches
Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Rubbing Compound

3. Turtle Wax T-415 (Best Budget)

  • More budget-friendly
  • Silicone-free formula
  • Safe on all car paints & finishes
3M 05973 Heavy-Cut Rubbing Compound

4. 3M 05973 (Best for Car Scratch)

  • Removes 1,200-grit & finer scratches
  • Fast-cutting formula
  • Effectively removes stains & oxidation
  • Leaves a lustrous shine
Meguiar's M6732 RV/Marine One-Step Rubbing Compound

5. Meguiar's M6732 (Best 2-In-1)

  • Cleans & shines in one step
  • Versatile formula
  • Works well on fiberglass & gel-coats
Meguiar's G18016 Fast-Acting & Clear-Coat Safe Rubbing Compound

6. Meguiar's G18016 (Safest)

  • Clear-coat safe formula
  • Fast-acting rubbing compound
  • Produces a super-smooth finish
Niteo Products 08610 No7 Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compound

7. Niteo Products 08610 (Heavy-Duty)

  • Removes the deep scratches & stains
  • Universal finish compatibility
  • Versatile rubbing compound
  • Very fast-acting formula
Turtle Wax T-230A Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compound

8. Turtle Wax T-230A (Effective All-Round)

  • Great for cleaning & restoration
  • Heavy-duty formula
  • A little goes a long way
Mothers Professional 08612 Rubbing Compound

9. Mothers 08612 (Professional-Grade)

  • Produces professional results
  • Removes scratches, oxidations & water spots
  • Safe on all paints & clear-coats
Star Brite Oxidation & Scratch Removal Rubbing Compound

10. Star Brite Liquid (For Heavy Oxidation)

  • Easily removes heavy oxidation
  • Works with hand or machine polishers
  • Quick & easy removal

PRODUCT

1. Griot's Garage 10863

(Best Overall)

Griot's Garage 10863 16-Oz Rubbing Compound
  • Advanced formula
  • Safe for all paint finishes
  • More user friendly
  • Does not contain any fillers

2. 3M 06085

(Best for Coated Surface)

3M Perfect-It 06085 One-Quart Rubbing Compound
  • Works on gel-coated surfaces
  • Fast cutting formula
  • Leaves a fine finish
  • Removes oxidation & scratches

3. Turtle Wax T-415

(Best Budget)

Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Rubbing Compound
  • More budget-friendly
  • Silicone-free formula
  • Safe on all car paints & finishes

4. 3M 05973

(Best for Car Scratch)

3M 05973 Heavy-Cut Rubbing Compound
  • Removes 1,200-grit & finer scratches
  • Fast-cutting formula
  • Effectively removes stains & oxidation
  • Leaves a lustrous shine

5. Meguiar's M6732

(Best 2-In-1)

Meguiar's M6732 RV/Marine One-Step Rubbing Compound
  • Cleans & shines in one step
  • Versatile formula
  • Works well on fiberglass & gel-coats

6. Meguiar's G18016

(Safest)

Meguiar's G18016 Fast-Acting & Clear-Coat Safe Rubbing Compound
  • Clear-coat safe formula
  • Fast-acting rubbing compound
  • Produces a super-smooth finish

7. Niteo Products 08610

(Heavy-Duty)

Niteo Products 08610 No7 Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compound
  • Removes the deep scratches & stains
  • Universal finish compatibility
  • Versatile rubbing compound
  • Very fast-acting formula

8. Turtle Wax T-230A

(Effective All-Round)

Turtle Wax T-230A Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compound
  • Great for cleaning & restoration
  • Heavy-duty formula
  • A little goes a long way

9. Mothers 08612

(Professional-Grade)

Mothers Professional 08612 Rubbing Compound
  • Produces professional results
  • Removes scratches, oxidations & water spots
  • Safe on all paints & clear-coats

10. Star Brite Liquid

(For Heavy Oxidation)

Star Brite Oxidation & Scratch Removal Rubbing Compound
  • Easily removes heavy oxidation
  • Works with hand or machine polishers
  • Quick & easy removal

1. Best Overall Rubbing Compound: Griot's Garage 10863 

Griot's Garage 10863 16-Oz Rubbing Compound

Photo: Griot's Garage

  • Size: 16 fl oz
  • Abrasiveness: Medium

Different rubbing compounds use varying technologies, but Griot's Garage 10863 uses a highly advanced formula that makes it more effective at restoring vehicle paint surfaces. The high effectiveness is what makes this our best overall product.

This formula starts with a higher abrasive level, which then goes down as it's worked into the surface. The result is that it gets rid of major irregularities and leaves an ultra-fine finish at the end.

You can use this rubbing compound on all paint finishes with no issues. And unlike others out there, it does not contain any fillers that will only cover up the imperfections. Hence, the finish you see after wiping off the product is the actual finish you get.

With this product's user-friendly nature, you can easily apply and wipe it off without leaving any dust behind. Better still, this compound is applicable by both hand and orbital polisher.

While this product does not seem to do much on chips, it is highly effective at removing all scratches, swirls, and oxidation, which are its primary purposes.

Pros:

  • Highly effective formula
  • Does not cover up the imperfections with fillers
  • Easy to use and to wipe off 
  • Works both by hand and with orbital polishers

Cons:

  • Does little on chips

2. Best Rubbing Compound for Coated Surface: 3M 06085 

3M Perfect-It 06085 One-Quart Rubbing Compound

Photo: 3M

  • Size: 1 quart
  • Abrasiveness: Light

The 3M 06085 is a 1-quart fast-cutting rubbing compound that delivers super-fast results. This rubbing compound comes as part of a complete auto detailing system. The fact that it is safe on gel-coated and other coated surfaces are what make it special.

This product is also one of the best rubbing compounds for oxidation and removing deeper scratches. What's more, it works well on both automotive and marine surfaces. 

Another thing many motorists will love about this product is that it leaves one of the finest finishes. This finish is as perfect as it gets when using a rubbing compound and hardly requires anything else.

You can also get this product in two other sizes: 16 fluid ounces and 1-gallon bottles.

You should note that this rubbing compound is relatively pricier when compared to others on our review, but the professional-grade results are worth the extra bucks. Also, it could be a little more abrasive, but it still works fine enough.

Note: For maximum effectiveness, the manufacturer recommends that you use this compound with the 3M Perfect-It Compounding Pad.

Pros:

  • Suitable for all coated and various other surfaces
  • Formula cuts super-fast
  • Removes oxidation and sanding scratches
  • Leaves a fine finish

Cons:

  • Relatively costly
  • Could be more abrasive

3. Best Budget Rubbing Compound: Turtle Wax T-415 

Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Rubbing Compound

Photo: Turtle Wax

  • Size: 18 fl oz
  • Abrasiveness: Medium

For motorists searching for a more budget-friendly rubbing compound that still delivers some impressive results, the Turtle Wax T-415 will be a fantastic option.

Despite being a budget option, this product removes 1,500-grit sanding scratches, swirl marks, and most other blemishes. Better yet, this compound restores the surface gloss and is very useful for preparing the surface for waxing.

Because it is a silicone-free product, it will be safe for use even in professional body shops. What's more, you can use this rubbing compound on all finishes without causing any problems.

Application is more flexible as you can use foam pads, cotton, or microfiber and apply by hand or with a polisher. 

If you have very stubborn stains and scratches, this might not be the best product for you, but it will be fantastic for all other imperfections.

Pros:

  • Relatively more affordable
  • Does not contain any silicone
  • Safe for all types of car paint and finishes
  • Applicable by both hand an orbital polisher
  • High-quality premium formula for professional results

Cons:

  • Not the best for stubborn stains and scratches

4. Best Rubbing Compound for Car Scratch: 3M 05973 

3M 05973 Heavy-Cut Rubbing Compound

Photo: 3M

  • Size: 1 quart
  • Abrasiveness: Medium

There's a reason 3M compounds and polishes are popular, and you can easily see that from the 3M 05973. Its high effectiveness at removing 1,200 grit and finer scratches will make it stand out from the rest.

With this rubbing compound, you get a fast cutting formula that ensures you spend less time compounding as it removes all imperfections within a short time and without requiring too much effort from you.

In addition to removing scratches fast, this formula also leaves no swirls behind, making your polishing session easier and faster. Better yet, it effectively removes oxidation, coarse swirl marks, water spots, and lots more. 

Users also love that this 3M rubbing compound leaves the surface with a lustrous shine after the application. It is a safe product for use on lacquer, clear coat, and enamel paint surfaces.

For the shortcomings, this rubbing compound is too abrasive for light jobs and a little more expensive. However, the price is just a reflection of the quality, and if you use it correctly, it should still work well enough even for light jobs.

Pros:

  • Very ideal for removing scratches
  • Works quickly and effectively
  • High-quality finish with no swirl marks
  • Removes stains and oxidation effectively

Cons:

  • It's too abrasive for light jobs
  • Still a little expensive

5. Best 2-In-1 Rubbing Compound: Meguiar's M6732 

Meguiar's M6732 RV/Marine One-Step Rubbing Compound

Photo: Meguiar's

  • Size: 1 quart
  • Abrasiveness: Light

Meguiar's M6732 offers a 2-in-1 solution, which includes essential oils to clean and shine the surface in one step. This saves you the need to have different products for cleaning and polishing the car and saves you time as you do not have to do both separately.

The top-rated rubbing compound is explicitly designed for fiberglass and gel-coat surfaces. This makes it ideal for use on various surfaces, including RVs and boats. Also, it works great with both hand and machine polishers.

As a rubbing compound, it'll get rid of most scratches, water spots, and heavy oxidation. Then, as a polish, it leaves the surface glossy and looking like new.

Keep in mind that you will still need a wax coat for proper protection. However, this formula already does most of the job of bringing colors back to life. If the results are not long-lasting enough for you, it should not take a lot of effort to re-apply the compound.

Pros:

  • Cleans and shines in one step
  • Designed for fiberglass and gel-coat surfaces
  • Restores the original color with a natural gloss
  • Works on scratches, stains, water spots, and oxidation

Cons:

  • You'll still need to wax the surface
  • Not very long-lasting

6. Safest Rubbing Compound: Meguiar's G18016

Meguiar's G18016 Fast-Acting & Clear-Coat Safe Rubbing Compound

Photo: Meguiar's

  • Size: 16 fl oz
  • Abrasiveness: Medium to Light

Meguiar's G18016 is one of the safest rubbing compounds that you will get out there as you can use it on almost any paint surface or finish, including clear coats. This compound quickly and easily eliminates stains, oxidation, and scratches that make your vehicle look dull or old.

Unlike many other rubbing compounds, which include abrasives that scour and haze the surface you are working on, this one produces a clear and clean finish. What's more, it has a fast-acting formula to ensure you get to finish the job much faster.

It also won't handle heavy scratches and oxidation well. Still, it is clear-coat safe, works amazingly well for fine and medium scratches, and produces superior results at an affordable price.

What some people might find a bit of a let down is that it is for hand application only. So this means going old-school without an orbital polisher or any machine at all. But, it is still quite easy to apply. While some users would have preferred it to be more abrasive, the milder nature makes it safe for even more delicate finishes.

Pros:

  • Safe for most finishes, including clear coat
  • Fast-acting to remove all blemishes fast
  • Leaves a super-smooth finish 
  • Returns your paint job's original gloss and sparkle

Cons:

  • Recommended for hand application only
  • Not very abrasive

7. Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compound: Niteo Products 08610 

Niteo Products 08610 No7 Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compound

Photo: Niteo

  • Size: 10 fl oz
  • Abrasiveness: Heavy

Unlike many products on our list, the Niteo Products 08610 comes in a solid-state. This compound is also a heavier duty option that will remove deep scratches and stains with more ease, making it the ideal solution if you have more heavy-duty cleaning to do.

The formula is universal to allow you to use this product on different paint surfaces and finishes without issues. And besides cleaning these rough surfaces, it will also be very effective at smoothening them out.

One more thing users love is that it restores even the dullest surfaces to a nice shine. This offer is for a single container, but the price is fantastic to ensure you get the best value for money.

However, keep in mind that you will need to smoothen the surface further with a polish before thinking of waxing it. This is due to the heavy-duty nature that makes it impractical for removing light scratches and stains. But, this still does not take anything away from the fact this is a fantastic and effective product.

Pros:

  • Ideal for removing deep scratches and stains
  • Universal and versatile rubbing compound
  • Smoothens rough surfaces very quickly
  • Offered at a lower price

Cons:

  • It's too rough for light jobs
  • You'll need a polishing compound as well

8. Effective All-Round Rubbing Compound: Turtle Wax T-230A 

Turtle Wax T-230A Heavy-Duty Rubbing Compound

Photo: Turtle Wax

  • Size: 10.5 fl oz
  • Abrasiveness: Heavy

Turtle Wax is one of the best auto rubbing compound brands globally, and you can always rely on them to have the right product for you. With the Turtle Wax T-230A, you get a versatile product you can use for both cleaning and restoration.

The heavy-duty rubbing compound comes in a small plastic container. It restores everything from deep scratches to oxidation on all surfaces, including chrome, painted metal, car finishes, and even porcelain.

Turtle Wax offers this single 10.5-fluid ounce container and a 6-pack for those that want an even better value for money. So if you think you might be needing lots of this compound, then it's probably a great deal.

Although it's rather rough and you'll still need some polishing to bring out that gloss, the results you get will make it worth all the effort. Also, it is not for light jobs, which should be obvious given the heavy-duty formula.

Pros:

  • Versatile for a variety of surfaces and all-round use
  • Very ideal for deep scratches
  • Penetrates oxidized surfaces quickly and easily
  • Removes oxidation and stubborn stains

Cons:

  • Needs polishing after rubbing
  • With its 600 grit, it's not for light jobs

9. Professional-Grade Rubbing Compound: Mothers 08612

Mothers Professional 08612 Rubbing Compound

Photo: Mothers

  • Size: 12 fl oz
  • Abrasiveness: Light

The Mothers 08612 rubbing compound will ensure you get the same results as a professional vehicle detailer would provide as it is made to meet professional-grade industrial standards.

It will effortlessly remove oxidation, water spots, scratches, and other defects. Plus, it's one of the best rubbing compounds for car paint restoration. The formula will recondition the paint to improve it for a more pleasant look.

You can use this rubbing compound safely on all paints and clear coats. And it will allow for more effortless application with a buffer. Also, this comes in a convenient 12-fluid ounce bottle that makes application even easier, and you can get it in a pack of 6 if you prefer to buy in bulk.

There are cheaper rubbing compounds on this list, and you will additionally need to use a polish after the rubbing session. Still, those who know the goodness of Mothers' auto detailing products appreciate them at all prices.

Pros:

  • Designed to produce professional results
  • Removes sanding scratches, oxidation, and water spots
  • Comes in a convenient 12-oz bottle
  • Safe to use on all types of paints and clear-coats

Cons:

  • There are cheaper offers

10. Rubbing Compound for Heavy Oxidation: Star Brite Liquid 

Star Brite Oxidation & Scratch Removal Rubbing Compound

Photo: Star Brite

  • Size: 16 fl oz
  • Abrasiveness: Heavy

Star Brite Liquid has a unique formula for dealing with heavy oxidation. It cuts through heavy oxidation easily and penetrates deep to ensure you can quickly wipe it off to leave the surface looking clean and glossy.

You can apply it with both hand or orbital polishers and is effective on fiberglass and painted surfaces. Better yet, you can still choose the medium to light version if you need something milder, but in most cases, this heavy-duty version takes care of things.

Because this product will not set up like others out there, you can be sure of having an easy time wiping it off.

For the drawbacks, this does not work well on metallic paints and surfaces, but this should not be a deal-breaker given the amazing job it does on other surfaces. You will still need to apply polish after using this rubbing compound to seal and shine afterward, but this is a simple job.

Pros:

  • Removes heavy oxidation with ease
  • Works for hand and machine application
  • Convenient and easy to use liquid formula
  • Wipes off quickly and easily

Cons:

  • Does not work well on metal or metallic paints
  • You still have to apply some polish

How to Buy the Best Rubbing Compounds

How to Buy The Best Rubbing Compounds

1. Effectiveness

Your first consideration should focus on the type of paint problem you have and the potential effectiveness of a particular rubbing compound on it.

You should note that rubbing compounds come in different abrasive strengths, including light, medium, and heavy-duty like the Niteo Products 08610.  

You can remove swirl marks using a light-abrasive rubbing compound, but for deep scratches and heavy oxidation, you need a heavy-duty or more abrasive product.

2. Ingredients

Manufacturers make their rubbing compounds with different materials, so it's left for you to check out each offer to ensure that it has what you want or doesn't have what you don't need.

For instance, many rubbing compounds contain wax, which makes it unnecessary to apply additional wax to the area once you are done polishing with the rubbing compound.

Also, note that some rubbing compounds come as liquids in bottles, while others come as pastes in different container types.

3. Quantity

The volume of product in the container or bottle also matters a lot as it will determine the area you can cover or the number of times you can use the product before having to buy more.

For the liquid rubbing compounds, 16 and 32-ounce bottles are the most common sizes. On the other hand, with the paste types, you can get containers with as little as 10 ounces of product.

When it comes to the quantity, the more the product, the better as it will ensure you get good value for money. Hence, a 32-ounce bottle like the Meguiar's M6732 always makes an excellent buy.

4. Application Method

Another issue that you'll need to consider is how you're going to apply the rubbing compound. Will you do it by hand or with an electric polisher?

Deciding on an application method enables you to get the necessary tools ready. Remember that electric polishers may cost more, but they save you plenty of time and money in the long run.

That said, something applicable by both hand and orbital sander like the Turtle Wax T-230A is the best option here as it will suit all kinds of users and their preferences.

How to Use Rubbing Compounds

How to Use Rubbing Compounds

Getting rid of the scratches on your car is a simple and straightforward process with a good rubbing compound. Here is what you need and what to do.

Tools You'll Need

1. A rubbing compound

2. Ultra-fine sandpaper (optional)

3. Soap water

4. Towels and wool pads

5. Orbital polisher (optional)

6. Polish & wax

Step 1. Wash the Surface

For the best results, you need to make sure that the area you are about to work on is as clean as possible. Therefore, you need to wash it with soapy water to get rid of all dirt and grease.

After washing, rinse the area with clean water and dry with a towel. Make sure that the surface is as dry as possible before starting work on it.

Step 2. Sanding Down (Optional)

Step two is sanding down the exact area around the scratch that you want to fix. This step is optional because it depends on the depth of the scratch and your rubbing compound abrasiveness.

If you have a deep scratch and a light-abrasive compound, for instance, you may need ultra-fine sandpaper of about 1,200-3,000 grit to sand down the surrounding area to the same level as the scratch.

Applying shoe polish on the scratch in this situation makes it easy to know when you've sanded down to the exact level. If the scratch isn't very deep, then feel free to skip this step.

Step 3. Applying the Rubbing Compound

This step simply needs you to apply a little amount of the rubbing compound over the scratch and then either scrub it in with a wool pad by hand or using an orbital polisher.

You can check the user instructions to know how much of the rubbing compound you should use. Keep in mind that the goal is to slightly polish off the surrounding paint until they are as deep as the scratch to make it disappear.

Step 4. Polishing & Waxing

Some rubbing compounds are light enough not to need additional polishing, but most times, you'll need to polish the surface after using the rubbing compound and then wax it.

Wax gives your paint job a shiny and protective layer, making the car look fresher than before. Just make sure that you don't wax with the same pad you used for polishing. Also, note that some polishes come with wax, while others don't.

FAQs

Q: What is the Main Difference between Rubbing Compound and Polishing Compound?

A: Rubbing compounds are abrasive substances for repairing uneven surfaces on the vehicle, such as scratches. Polishing compounds, on the other hand, are formulated to shine and smoothen the surface.

Q: What is the Main Difference between Rubbing Compound and Clay Bar?

A: Clay bars will remove impurities from the paint surface to give it a more sightly look while the rubbing compounds aim to even it out by removing scratches and other imperfections.

Q: Can I Use Rubbing Compound on a Windshield?

A: This depends on the abrasiveness of the particular product you are using. The heavy-duty or highly abrasive types can be too harsh on the glass and hence leaving it with unsightly scratches. But, most light-duty rubbing compounds are safe and effective for use on windshields.

Q: Do I Need to Clean Surface Before Applying Rubbing Compound?

A: For the best results, you will need first to clean the surface. While some products can still provide good results even on dirty surfaces, dirt and other contaminants often reduce most rubbing compounds' effectiveness significantly.

Conclusion

A rubbing compound provides the most effective solution for removing scratches and other imperfections from your paint job. And with this review to give you recommendations, finding the best rubbing compound for your vehicle should be almost effortless.

With that in mind, the Griot's Garage 10863 is our best overall and hence top recommendation as it uses a highly advanced formula, and you can use it on almost any paint type or finish.

But, if you prefer not to spend a lot of cash on the rubbing compound, the Turtle Wax T-415 is a more budget-friendly option for you.

Sources

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