A rubbing compound uses an abrasive formula to remove more of the clear coat than a standard car polish. This abrasive formulation is required to remove larger scratches and other tough defects that standard polishes aren’t able to remove. Before choosing a compound, you should try a less abrasive polish beforehand. Rubbing compounds aren’t meant to be used on a regular basis otherwise it may remove too much of the clear coat.
If you require a quick answer, the best rubbing compound is the 3M 39060 Perfect-It, which effortlessly removes scratches, light defects and 1,200 grit sand markings. However, if you need to tackle deeper scratches or worse defects in the paint, the 3M 05954 Super Duty is the best alternative.
To rate the rubbing compounds within this article, we based the recommendations upon our own experience, research and multiple factors. The factors we considered included their ease of application, ability to remove defects, compatibility with paints, finish, residue left behind and value for money.
Table of Contents
Rubbing Compound Comparison
|Rubbing Compound||Sand Markings||Bottle Sizes|
|3M 39060 Perfect-It||1,200 Grit||16 to 128 oz|
|Menzerna Fast Gloss 400||1,200 Grit||20 to 32 oz|
|3M 05954 Super Duty||1,000 Grit||16 to 128 oz|
|The Wax Shop Rebuild||2,000 Grit||16 to 32 oz|
|Meguiars Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut||1,200 Grit||8 to 128 oz|
|Griot's Garage B110P||1,000 Grit||16 oz|
|Chemical Guys V Line Kit||1,000 - 3,000 Grit||16 oz|
|3D One Hybrid||1,500 Grit||8 to 32 oz|
|Turtle Wax T-415||1,500 Grit||18 oz|
|Niteo 08610 Paste||1,000 Grit||10 oz|
Rubbing compounds for car scratches are the key to success but in the wrong hands, they can cause further damage. To effectively work the product into the paintwork and achieve the best results, it’s highly advised that you apply the product via a car polishing machine.
Before applying a rubbing compound to your paintwork, it’s crucial that its completely clean. Failing to clean the car could result in dirt or debris becoming trapped within the applicator pad and causing further defects. Using a clay bar kit on the paintwork will provide you with the perfect base to begin your paint correction.
Below is a list of the best rubbing compounds that effectively remove scratches, swirl marks and other deep paint defects.
The Best Rubbing Compound
1. 3M 39060 Perfect-It Rubbing Compound
The 3M brand is favored by professional detailers around the world and they produce a wide variety of detailing products. The 3M 39060 Perfect-It is one of their most popular rubbing compounds that’s available as a 16 ounce, 1 quart or 1 gallon bottle.
Compared to other compounds, the Perfect-It isn’t the most abrasive of formulas but this makes it a great option for removing light to medium car scratches.
Other features of the 3M 39060 Perfect-It include:
- Engineered to work with newer clear coats
- Cuts fast without heating up the polishing pad
- Can be used as for headlight restoration
- Removes P1200 grade and finer sand scratches
- Easy wipe off formula without residue
The only drawback of this rubbing compound is that it’s slightly more expensive than the alternatives. However, it produces excellent paint correction results that leaves the paintwork feeling smooth and suitable for waxing. Overall, it’s the best rubbing compound on the market that’s easy to use and wipes clear, which is great for beginners.
2. Menzerna Fast Gloss 400 Compound
For those that require a strong rubbing compound to tackle tough defects, the Menzerna Fast Gloss is a great option. It has the ability to remove 1,200 grit sanding marks and leave a high-gloss finish in a single step.
According to the brand, it’s most effective when used with a rotary or DA polisher that’s using either a wool or foam compounding pad.
Other features of the Menzerna Fast Gloss include:
- Application via rotary or DA polisher
- Improved formula that eliminates dust
- Eliminates buffing marks, haze and holograms
- Can be used for marine products such as fiberglass
- Removes 1,200 grit sanding
- No silicone or fillers
- Made in the USA
Overall, it’s another great rubbing compound for car scratches and it also provides a high gloss shine in a single step too. It’s a similar compound to the 3M Perfect-It as they both provide similar results when used with a polishing machine.
3. 3M 05954 Super Duty Rubbing Compound
For tackling deep scratches and tough defects, 3M offer a stronger rubbing compound, which is known as the 05954 Super Duty. It’s able to remove 1,000 grit sanding marks and it uses an economical liquid compound formula, which delivers a high rate of cut.
Unlike other heavy duty formulas, the Super Duty remains wet for longer, which allows you to continue to cut whilst applying medium pressure.
Other features of the 3M 05954 Super Duty include:
- Removes oxidation and deep scratches
- Can be applied via hand or polisher
- Remains wet for a longer during application
- Contains no silicone
- Suitable for all paint types and gelcoat
- Wipes off without any mess
The Super Duty formula is the best rubbing compound for oxidation and tough defects that are refusing to clear with other compounds. If you are new to paint correction, we strongly recommend choosing the less abrasive alternatives beforehand. It’s important to note that this is a strong rubbing compound that can cause damage in the wrong hands.
4. The Wax Shop Rebuild Medium Cut Compound
For those requiring the least abrasive cut, the Wax Shop rubbing compound is suitable for 2,000 grit or finer sanding. This means you are able to tackle scratches, swirl marks and other light defects without cutting too much into the clear coat.
Not all scratches require a strong rubbing compound straightaway and using a less abrasive formula reduces the removal of the clear coat and this is where the Rebuild formula becomes very desirable.
Other features of the Wax Shop 50957 Rebuild Medium Cut include:
- Easy on and off formula
- No dusting
- Leaves a high gloss finish
- Best applied via DA polisher
- Silicone free
- Effectively removes swirls, scratches and other defects
The Wax Shop Rebuild 2000 is perfect for tackling light defects such as swirl marks, holograms, buffing marks and much more. For the best results using this formula, the brand recommend using a DA polisher and then a finishing compound afterwards.
5. Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut Compound
For those looking for a low cost option, Meguiar’s have an affordable rubbing compound. It’s able to effortlessly remove grit marks up to 1,200 grit or finer and this thanks to an exclusive micro-abrasive formula that’s safe for automotive clear coats.
Unlike many other rubbing compounds, the Mirror Glaze formula can be applied via a polishing machine or by hand if required.
Other features of the Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut include:
- Safe for all glossy paint surfaces
- Can be applied via hand or polisher
- Available in 8, 32 or 1 gallon bottle sizes
- Removes scratches, swirls and other defects
- Professional grade formula
The Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut is a great all-rounder that provides excellent value for money. It can also be applied by hand, which is great for those looking to tackle their paintwork without having to purchase a polisher.
6. Griot’s Garage B110P Fast Correcting Compound
Griot’s Garage are a highly reputable detailing brand in the US and they produce a range of compounds for cars. The Fast Correcting Cream formula is their most aggressive compound that includes no silicone or fillers.
According to the brand, their Fast Correcting formula is engineered to tackle even the most severe of paint defects that other formulas struggle with.
Other features of the Griot’s Garage B110P include:
- Easy wipe on and off formula
- High loads of sub-micron abrasives
- Fast paint correcting results
- Dust-free formula
- Removes 1,000 sand markings
- Pleasant scent during application
- Only available in a 16 oz bottle
The Griot’s Garage Fast Correcting Cream is a highly rated rubbing compound for removing a range of paint defects. As the name suggests, it has a fast removal process due to the aggressiveness and it needs to be used with the correct pads to achieve the best results.
7. Chemical Guys V Line Compound Kit
The Chemical Guys V Line is a complete kit of compounds and polishes that help you achieve the best possible finish. The kit includes formulas that can tackle 1,200 to 3,000 grit sanding markings, which covers most types of paint correction.
Included within the kit is the Extreme, Gradehybrid, Cutting and Final polishing compounds, which can also be purchased separately if required.
Other features of the Chemical Guys V Line include:
- Optical grade micro abrasive technology
- Suitable for use with a DA or rotary polisher
- More aggressive bottles contain no silicone or filers
- Removes heavy to light paint defects
- Easy to use and buff off
- Nice scent during application
If you require a complete kit of compounds and polishes to tackle your car’s paintwork, the V Line by Chemical Guys is the best option. The kit includes everything you need to completely transform your paintwork but you will require a car polisher to apply the compounds.
8. 3D One Hybrid Compound For Car Scratches
The 3D One is a high quality 3-in-1 compound that delivers true paint correction in one application. According to the brand, the rubbing compound is suitable for tackling heavy scratches that are equivalent to 1,500 grit sand markings.
In order to achieve the best results, the brand state that it should be applied in shaded areas and using either a dual action or rotary polishing machine.
Other features of the 3D One Hybrid include:
- Removes 1,500 grit sand markings
- Water based and all natural
- Uses nano ceramic alumina abrasives
- Application via rotary or DA polisher
- Cutting and finishing compound combined
- Available in 8, 16 or 32 oz bottles
Many professionals may not like the idea of an all-in-one product when compared to other specialized formulas. However, if you don’t have hours to spend correcting the paint work, the 3D One rubbing compound is an excellent choice.
9. Turtle Wax T-415 Rubbing Compound
Turtle Wax are a reputable brand that are well-known for their affordable detailing products and the T-415 follows that great reputation. It’s a premium grade formula that’s designed to remove heavy swirl marks and scratches by hand or polisher.
The brand state that their rubbing compound is safe to use on all finishes and its able to remove 1,500 or finer grit markings with ease.
Other features of the Turtle Wax T-415 include:
- Application by cotton, microfiber or foam pads
- Removed 1,500 grit sand markings
- Restores gloss and prepares the surface for waxing
- Medium cut formula that uses nanotechnology polishing agents
- Silicone free formula that’s safe on all surfaces
- Only available in a 18 oz bottle
The Turtle Wax T-415 is an excellent all-round rubbing compound that combines performance with value for money. The brand also offer a variety of detailing products that are ideal for following up after the application of this formula too.
10. Niteo 08610 Rubbing Compound
The Niteo 08610 is a unique rubbing compound as the formula isn’t in a liquid but instead a paste, which is stored in a 10 ounce container. It’s a heavy duty option that cleans and restores the paintwork to remove deep scratches.
Other features of the Niteo 08610 include:
- Heavy duty cutting qualities
- Easy to use formula
- Application via a polisher
- Cleans and restores the paint
- Suitable for all automotive finishes
- Only available as a 10 ounce paste
Overall, it’s an affordable rubbing compound that delivers excellent cutting qualities. The Niteo formula also cleans and removes a range of deep scratches or stains in a single application.
How We Picked
After years of performing paint correction upon a number of cars, we have plenty of experience to rate the rubbing compounds available on the market. Therefore, along with our experience, we also based the recommendations upon hours of research and multiple factors. The factors that we considered included their ease of application, ability to remove defects, compatibility with paints, finish, residue left behind and value.
Rubbing Compound Buying Guide
Rubbing compounds are an essential detailing product that’s required to effectively remove scratches and other defects from your paintwork. Unlike a standard car polish, the rubbing compound is far more abrasive and it removes a larger layer of the clear coat.
Using rubbing compounds should only be used when required and not on a regular basis. You don’t want to remove too many layers of the clear coat as this could be a costly mistake. Many professionals will use a paint measuring device prior to performing paint correction to prevent this from happening.
The results from using a quality rubbing compound for scratches or swirl marks are pretty impressive. You can find many people showing off their 50/50 photographs of their paintwork as shown below.
Defects That Can Be Removed
Rubbing compounds are a premium product that’s able to remove more defects than a standard car polish. Such defects include oxidation, scratches, hologram/buffing marks, water spots, the orange peel effect and much more.
After using a rubbing compound, you will be left with a smooth surface that’s ready for waxing. It’s important that you use the best car wax you can get your hands on because all the wax would have been removed along with the defects.
You are able to see the strength of the compound by the level of sanding markings its able to remove. Most detailing brands offer a wide range of rubbing compounds that are able to tackle anything from 1,000 to 3,000 grit. Wet sanding your vehicle is only suited to professional detailers and enthusiasts and not something that you should undertake as a beginner.
Depending upon the type of defect that you are tackling, you may require a strong formula. For example, if you require a rubbing compound for car scratches or heavy swirl marks, you will want a medium cut compound, which can remove 1,200 to 1,500 grit sanding markings. For removing lighter defects, rubbing compounds between 1,500 to 2,000 grit are more than ideal.
Application – Hand or Polisher?
When it comes to the application of a rubbing compound, most people will use a polisher. There are some formulas that state you can apply the compound by hand but we recommend sticking to a polisher. If you have gone to the effort of completely cleaning your car with a clay bar, you will want to achieve the best possible results.
Components of a Rubbing Compound
You may notice that on some bottles, the brand’s clearly state that they contain no toxic ingredients, silicone or fillers. The reason for this is that these components are known to cause issues during application and make it difficult to achieve the best results.
Silicone is the main component to avoid as it can cause paint adhesion, which results in smears appearing on the paintwork.
Due to the cutting qualities of a rubbing compound, you want to be sure it doesn’t cause damage. Spending the little bit extra for a formula by a trusted detailing brand is highly recommended. Trusted brands include 3M, Meguiars, The Wax Shop, Turtle Wax, Menzerna, Chemical Guys and a few others.
Compared with other detailing products, rubbing compound is fairly expensive by the ounce. Therefore, to get the best bang for your buck, it’s recommended that you purchase a larger bottle size. On top of this, the last thing you want to happen is to run out of product and not be able to complete the paint correction.
The best rubbing compound will be able to remove the majority of defects effortlessly. Some manufacturers suggest specific directions of use and it’s important that you follow them in order to get the best results. However, not all bottles will explain the steps you need to take, so below is a brief guide.
Prepare the Paintwork
Before using the compound on your paintwork, you must ensure that it’s completely clean. This means using a suitable car wash soap to remove loose debris and then a clay bar to remove further dirt clinging onto the paintwork.
You will want to check the thickness of the paint before using a rubbing compound. This can be achieved with a coating thickness gauge that provides you with an instant reading. If the reading is too low, you may want to ask a bodywork specialist for a second opinion.
Application of the Compound
Whether you are correcting a targeted car scratch or the whole car, you will firstly need to begin with a fine sand paper. Using the sand paper, you will want to lightly rub down the scratch until its level with the paintwork. Once it has reached this stage, you are then ready to apply a rubbing compound.
Using a rotary or DA polisher is our recommended form of applying a compound. You will want to use the correct pad and use a small amount of the compound and work it into the sanded area. Once complete, buff the area of any residue and check that the result meet your expectations.
Ease of Use
The preparation and methods described above are fairly brief and you should take further steps to make the process easier. For example, when it comes to paint correction, you should always avoid direct sunlight and heated surfaces.
We also highly recommend that you use detailing tape to cover edges or plastic trim. These compounds can cause permanent markings to the trim, which may require a plastic restorer in order to rectify the damage.
When the sun shines on your paintwork, it can often bring out all the defects and flaws, thus ruin its appearance. However, investing into a quality rubbing compound that can effortlessly remove these defects and provide the perfect surface that’s ready for waxing is highly recommended.
All of our recommendations cover a range of different abrasive formulas, budgets and brands. They also all remove car scratches, swirl marks, water spots and other defects. For tackling deeper scratches in small areas, you may want to check out some of the car scratch remover kits available. This is because they provide you with everything you need to tackle deeper scratches that the rubbing compound may not be able to correct.