10 Best Rubbing Compounds of 2021

Jerry Wilson
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Since we know that not many people know how to remove scratches from car paint, we’ve compiled a list of the best rubbing compounds 2019 to teach you everything you need to know.

Not all rubbing compounds are made the same. Nor do they all work the same.

What’s even more surprising is the fact that you can actually make your own rubbing compound by simply mixing up a few ingredients in your kitchen!

This guide is perfect for newbies at paint correction who need a little DIY help. It’s also great for those of you who are trying to decide whether to buy a rubbing compound or head to Home Depot for ingredients.

The list below will give you a nice overview of the most popular rubbing compounds on the market today!

In this guide, I’ve compiled 4 different types of rubbing compounds to remove scratches from paintwork. However, before you start shopping for the best rubbing compound for your vehicle, you should first determine the type of surface you will be working with.

NameCategoryProduct
3M 05973 Rubbing CompoundBest Overall3M 05973 Rubbing Compound
Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing CompoundBudget PickTurtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound
Meguiar's M6732 Marine/RV One Step CompoundUpgrade PickMeguiar's M6732 Marine/RV One Step Compound

1. 3M 05973 Rubbing Compound

Our rating: 9 / 10

3M 05973 Rubbing Compound

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Pros:

  • Makes paint work look like new again
  • Low-odor
  • Water-based formula keeps the paint from drying or chipping
  • Removes scratches, swirls, and defects
  • Cleans and polishes in one step
  • Made from non-flammable ingredients
  • Suitable for all paints unlike other rubbing compounds
  • Can be used via machine or by hand
  • Can be used as a clay lube or as a paint cleaner
  • Can be applied by hand or with a machine

Cons:

  • A bit watery
  • In the wrong hands, this can cost you paint

The 3M 05973 Rubbing Compound, or 3M Perfect-It 3000 Rubbing Compound, depending on which of the two product numbers you refer to, is a paint sealant that makes paint look like new. It removes scratches and swirls, and even cleans paint at the same time. It is available in different sizes, and it not only works well on its own, but it can also work as a clay lube or a paint cleaner depending on what you need it for.

2. Griot's Garage 10862 Complete Compound 16oz

Our rating: 9 / 10

Griot's Garage 10862 Complete Compound 16oz

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Pros:

  • Not a greasy mess
  • Easy to apply and buff
  • Tackles scratches to deep scrapes
  • Easy on, easy off with the leather applicator pad
  • Affordable

Cons:

  • Doesn’t remove heavy scratches
  • Needs to be mixed with either water or the applicator pad, which can be messy

A compound should be your final option in the car detailing world. A compound is best used after polishing your car and before waxing it. Compound tends to remove and fill in deep scratches, and removes mild oxidation. Since it’s fairly aggressive, it’s possible to remove paint during application, so you have to be careful when applying it. It also tends to be the messiest of the detailing products so you’ll need to lay down newspaper to protect your work area from getting dirty.

Griot’s Garage offers the 10862 Complete Compound that’s a cleaner and finishing polish in one. It’s a mild compound that evens out the surface texture, and removes light scratches.

3. Meguiar's M6732 Marine/RV One Step Compound

Our rating: 9 / 10

Meguiar's M6732 Marine/RV One Step Compound

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Pros:

  • Works best on fiberglass and gelcoat
  • Great build quality
  • The best out there when it comes to removing oxidation, stains, etches, and oxidation.
  • Rubbing compound works best on fiberglass, but it can also be used on gel coat and paint
  • The inclusion of cleaner and wax makes this purchase a steal

Cons:

  • Doesn’t have the same hard working properties as some of the other compounds in this list
  • May require multiple passes for single applications

The Meguiar’s M6732 Marine/RV One Step Compound is one of the top options you can choose when purchasing your next compound. It’s great for fiberglass, gelcoat, and other areas that need some serious attention. Plus, it comes with a cleaner, kick-ass wax, and a buffer pad.

A great feature about this product is that the cleaner will break down oxidation and all automotive contaminants. While it may not be able to tackle the heavy stuff like scratches or acid rain, it’s great for everything else.

4. Turtle Wax T-230A Rubbing Compound & Heavy Duty Cleaner

Our rating: 9 / 10

Turtle Wax T-230A Rubbing Compound & Heavy Duty Cleaner

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Pros:

  • Gets the job done in less time
  • Gives a paint like finish
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Pump dispenser top doesn’t always work
  • No car wax included in the package

The T-230A Rubbing Compound & Heavy Duty Cleaner from Turtle wax has been my go-to product since I started detailing my own car in high school so I was greatly excited when I saw they had a product available for review. While this is a great starter detailing kit, I quickly discovered this kit won’t take care of many more than surface level dirt and grime. The kit also didn’t include a car wax which surprised me a bit but later on I found out that this was a kit for rubbing compound and not waxing.

The surface prep products included in the kit are what made it a great value. When removing wax, you can’t always take the compound directly to the surface or it will damage the paint job. The two-pack of clay bars and the 6-piece palm sanding kit were great additions to the kit.

5. Mothers 08612 Professional Rubbing Compound

Our rating: 8 / 10

Mothers 08612 Professional Rubbing Compound

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Pros:

  • Great price
  • Great for removing minor surface imperfections from paint and glass
  • Has a pleasant smell, It smells like citrus
  • It is extremely easy to apply

Cons:

  • Rubbing compound can remove some color from paint
  • Product has short shelf life

Mothers 08612 Professional Rubbing Compound is a great pick for individuals who are looking for a compound that is great for minor surface imperfections on your paint and windows. It is cheap, easy to apply, and removes just the right amount of imperfection without having to put in too much effort.

A note to keep in mind is that Mothers Rubbing Compound can remove some color from paint so if you don’t want any color loss, try out rubbing compound from another brand.

If you are looking for something that will last a long time, Mothers 08612 will not be ideal. It expires in two years, so to say you will have to purchase a new one once a year just to be safe.

6. Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound

Our rating: 8 / 10

Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound

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Pros:

  • Removes defects and scratches without harming the paint
  • Removes defects and minor scratches
  • Fine scratches are almost invisible again
  • Two-step process makes it easy to spread and remove scratches
  • It gives a professional paint job shine

Cons:

  • Cannot scratch in one pass
  • Does not last long

Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound is my top choice for buffing compounds. This product is easy to apply and when applied according to instruction it is very effective. The 18 oz. sold via Amazon is a good deal because it lasts a long time. And worth for the investment. This product is compatible for the use of both solvent and water-based paints.

This product can be used on any surface including glass, plastic, and metal. I used it on my gas tank and it worked really well. The multi-faceted swirl remover is the main ingredient that works very well to eliminate the scratches of any car. I will recommend this product to anybody who need to get rid of the rust and scratches on their car.

7. Meguiar's G18016 Clear Coat Safe Rubbing Compound

Our rating: 8 / 10

Meguiar's G18016 Clear Coat Safe Rubbing Compound

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Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Good performance
  • Easy to use
  • Safe for clearcoat

Meguiar’s Clear Coat Safe Rubbing Compound is the perfect balance between cutting power and gloss retention. Its fine abrasives remove light oxidation, swirls, light scratches, water spots, and minor imperfections while still maintaining the depth and gloss brought out by your buffer.

This compound is safe for clearcoat paint and will not leave any haze behind like other compounds. It is easy to apply and buff off and, most importantly, won’t make the problems it’s curing worse.

This compound works well with a wool pad and a high-speed buffer. Use the highest speeds your buffer can handle. However, if you are using a lower speed for finishing, you will be able to use this with Meguiar’s Microfiber Finishing Pad. If you are going to be applying with a rotary (two-wheel) buffer, you should use Meguiar’s Microfiber Correction Compound.

8. Niteo Products 08610-EACH Single Rubbing Compound

Our rating: 8 / 10

Niteo Products 08610-EACH Single Rubbing Compound

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Pros:

  • Easy to apply
  • Smells great
  • Won’t cloud the glass
  • Won’t foam
  • Amazing clarity
  • It gets the job done
  • Excellent value

Niteo Products 08610-EACH Single Rubbing Compound is the best thanks to its high customer satisfaction, very affordable price, and great performance and quality.

It’s easy to apply and won’t leave any residue behind as it’s a wax-free product. It comes in a one-gallon bottle, enough to clean many. After a thorough wash of your car you will be able to see the amazing clarity this compound leaves behind.

It doesn’t foam during application and it’s easy to rub in. It will also remove any swirl marks and road grim.

9. STAR BRITE Liquid Rubbing Compound 16 oz. Oxidation & Scratch Remover

Our rating: 7 / 10

STAR BRITE Liquid Rubbing Compound 16 oz. Oxidation & Scratch Remover

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Pros:

  • Excellent for removing surface rust and buffing out minor paint imperfections
  • Can also be used on glass and windshields
  • Non-abrasive, non-acidic
  • Virtually odorless and colorless
  • Can be washed off with water

Cons:

  • May not work well if your scratches are deep or you’ve also got oxidation to deal with
  • Rubbing compounds may aggravate some skin conditions like eczema in some people
  • Lasts for only a narrow time window once exposed to air

10. 3M Perfect-It Rubbing Compound

Our rating: 7 / 10

3M Perfect-It Rubbing Compound

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Pros:

  • Easy on your budget
  • Removes 1200 grit and finer scratches
  • Imparts a deep gloss shine
  • Formulated for acrylic and polyurethane paints and clear coats

Cons:

  • Can leave a cloudy residue at the end
  • Contains high VOC

This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering. This product is made with the latest technology and engineering.

It features a blend of professional-grade ingredients with defect inhibitors that provide less dusting and cling-ups for easier machine cleanup. It is great for use on all paints and varnishes. It can take the place of expensive finishers like rubbing compound and finishing polishes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is the best rubbing compound?

The best rubbing compound listed below is Meguiar's Ultimate Compound. Along with Meguiar's Ultimate Compound, the products listed below are great choices if you have light scratches, swirls, and oxidation.

There is a lot of debate over which rubbing compound is the best amongst car enthusiasts. The key is that the correct compound should be matched with the job at hand. For beginners, and even car professionals, there are two formulas, namely, the Meguiar's Professional Compound and Meguiar's Ultimate Compound.

The best, and most popular is Meguiar's Ultimate Compound. It can handle almost everything from oxidation, swirl marks, scratches, and even light scratches. What’s more, it can remove water spots too. This compound can be applied by hand or machine.

What is the best buffing compound for clear coat?

This compound is what your detailing professional will likely use to remove scratches and oxidation from your clear coat. It takes a bit longer to rub out and can’t be used as frequently as some of the others, but can be much more effective and should be used whenever you notice clear coat scratches or oxidation developing.

This product is usually safe to use on all types of clear coats, but you should always check for specific product labels for this information.

What is rubbing compound good for?

Rubbing compound is a handy product that can quickly remove scuffs and scratches from exterior paints, windshields and porcelain surfaces. Plus, it’s commonly used in car restoration projects and can therefore give a well-used vehicle a fresh new look.

Rubbing compound is almost always composed of a gritty material, like walnut shells, that chemically smooths over rough or shiny surfaces, creating a nice luster for your project.

Although the name is rubbing compound, it doesn’t actually have to be rubbed on it can be applied with a brush as well.

Should I use rubbing compound or polishing compound?

Can I use both?

The two compounds are designed for very different purposes. Rubbing compound is meant to remove scratches and minor blemishes in paint. Polishing compound, however, will bring back shine and luster and is best used to restore factory paint or remove deep-seated scratches from surfaces.

The two are designed for two totally different purposes, but there is absolutely no reason you can’t use both. After using rubbing compound on a damaged area, follow with some polishing compound to restore luster and shine.

Rubbing compounds are commonly used with applicator pads, but you can also use them with sandpaper. Use 120-220 grit paper to remove deep-seated scratches and then follow with 400-800 grit paper to restore lost shine. For light scratches and smaller blemishes, you can simply use the rubbing compound by hand.

Conclusion

Of all the manual labor I've done, I don't know why I didn't have a buffer until a few years ago. It's amazing how many things you can do with a buffer! From taking out scratches and scuffs, to buffing and waxing, to restoring a car's finish, to polishing old furniture and more, a buffer is a great tool to have on hand. Honestly, I keep asking myself, "How did I get by without one for so long?" My restorative buffing kit is indispensable. And after testing a lot of different buffers, I'm confident that there is something for almost every budget. Here is the list of our favorite 10.

Our Recommendation

NameCategoryProduct
3M 05973 Rubbing CompoundBest Overall3M 05973 Rubbing Compound
Turtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing CompoundBudget PickTurtle Wax T-415 Premium Grade Rubbing Compound
Meguiar's M6732 Marine/RV One Step CompoundUpgrade PickMeguiar's M6732 Marine/RV One Step Compound