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The Best Rubbing Compound 2019

A rubbing compound uses an abrasive formula that will remove more of the paint than a standard car polish. This is required to help remove larger scratches and other tough defects that a polishing compound will not remove.

The best rubbing compound is the 3M 39060 Perfect-It, which effortlessly removes scratches, light defects and 1,200 grit sand markings.

Before choosing a rubbing compound, it is important that you have tried a less abrasive polish beforehand. Rubbing compound is not a product that you are meant to use on a regular basis otherwise it will remove too much of the paint.

Best Rubbing Compound

Rubbing CompoundSand MarkingsBottle Sizes
3M 39060 Perfect-It1,200 Grit16 to 128 oz
Menzerna Fast Gloss 4001,200 Grit20 to 32 oz
3M 05954 Super Duty1,000 Grit16 to 128 oz
The Wax Shop Rebuild2,000 Grit16 to 32 oz
Meguiars Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut1,200 Grit8 to 128 oz

Rubbing compound for car scratches are the key to success but in the wrong hands, it can cause further damage. To effectively work the product into your paintwork, it is highly advised to use a car polisher rather than hand application.

Before apply a rubbing compound to your paintwork, its crucial that its completely clean beforehand. Failing this could result in dirt or debris becoming trapped within the applicator or pad thus 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 will effectively remove scratches, swirl marks and other tough defects.

3M 39060 Perfect-It Rubbing Compound

3M is a brand used by professional detailers around the world and they produce a wide variety of detailing products. The 3M 39060 Perfect-It compound is not the most abrasive of formulas they offer but its perfect for removing car scratches.

Other features of the 3M 39060 Perfect-It rubbing compound includes:

  • 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 is slightly more expensive than the alternatives. However, it produces excellent paint correction results that is smooth and suitable for waxing. It is the best rubbing compound on the market that is easy to use and wipe off, which is great for beginners.

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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 a 1,200 grit sanding mark and leave a high-gloss finish in one step.

Other features of the Menzerna Fast Gloss rubbing compound includes:

  • 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 is another great rubbing compound for car scratches that cannot be removed with a strong polish. It also provides a high gloss shine along with the removal of scratches in one step too. It is a very similar compound to the 3M Perfect-It as both provide similar results.

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3M 05954 Super Duty Compound

For tackling deep scratches and tough defects, 3M offer a stronger rubbing compound. The 05954 Super Duty is able to remove 1,000 grit sanding marks thanks to an economical liquid compound formula, which delivers a high rate of cut.

Other features of the 3M 05954 Super Duty Compound includes:

  • Removes oxidation and deep scratches
  • Can be applied via hand or polisher
  • Remains wet for a long time during application
  • Contains no silicone
  • Suitable for all paint types and gelcoat
  • Wipes off without any mess

Overall, it is the best rubbing compound for oxidation and tough defects that are refusing to remove with other lighter compounds. If you are new to paint correction, we strongly recommend choosing the less abrasive alternatives beforehand.  This is a strong rubbing compound that can cause damage in the wrong hands.

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The Wax Shop Rebuild Medium Cut Compound

For those 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 that require attention.

Other features of the Wax Shop 50957 Rebuild Medium Cut Compound 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

Not everyone will want to use a strong rubbing compound on their paintwork straight away. The Wax Shop compound is perfect for tackling light defects such as swirl marks, holograms, buffing marks and much more.

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Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut Compound

For those looking for a low cost option, Meguiar’s offers an affordable rubbing compound. It will effortlessly remove 1,200 grit or finer sanding marks thanks to an exclusive micro-abrasive formula that is safe for clear coats.

Other features of the Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut Compound includes:

  • 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

Overall, the Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra-Cut rubbing compound is a great all-rounder that provides excellent value for money. It can also be applied via hand, which is great for those looking to tackle their paintwork without having to purchase a polisher.

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Rubbing Compound Buying Guide

Rubbing compound is an essential detailing product that you will require to effective remove scratches and other defects from your paintwork. Unlike a standard car polish, the rubbing compound is far more abrasive and it will remove a larger layer of the paintwork in order to smooth it out.

Using such a strong compound should only be used when required and not on a regular basis. You do not want to remove too many layers as this could be a costly mistake. Many professionals will use a paint measuring device prior to performing paint correction.

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.

Rubbing Compound For Car Scratches

Defects That Can Be Removed

Rubbing compound is a premium product that is able to remove more defects that the standard car polish. Such defects include oxidation, scratches, hologram/buffing marks, water spots, orange peel effect and much more.

After using a rubbing compound, you will be left with a smooth surface that is ready for waxing. It is 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.

Sanding Markings

You are able to see the strength of the compound by the level of sanding markings it is able to remove. The detailing brand 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 suited to professional detailers and enthusiasts and not something that you should undertake as a beginner.

How Strong?

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 will usually be able to correct 1,200 to 1,500 grit sanding markings.

For removing lighter defects, rubbing compounds between 1,500 to 2,000 grit will be able to safely remove the defects with ease.

Application – Hand or Polisher?

When it comes to the application of a rubbing compound, the majority of brand will recommend using a polisher. There are some exceptions that state you can apply the compound via hand application 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.

Rubbing Compound For Oxidation

Components of a Rubbing Compound

You may notice that on some bottles, the brands 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 not provide the best results.

Silicone is the main component to avoid as it can cause paint adhesion, which results in smears appearing on the paintwork.

Trusted Brand

Due to the cutting qualities of a rubbing compound, you want to be sure it does not cause damage. Spending the little bit extra to remain with a trusted detailing brand is highly recommended. Trusted brands include 3M, Meguiars, The Was Shop, Turtle Wax, Menzerna, Chemical Guys and a few others.

Bottle Size

Compared with other detailing products, rubbing compound is fairly expensive by the ounce. Therefore, to get the best bang for your buck, it is recommended to purchase a larger bottle size in order to get better value for money. 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.

Proper Usage

The best rubbing compound will be able to remove the majority of defects effortlessly. Some manufacturers suggest specific directions of use and its 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 is 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.

Check Thickness

You will want to check the thickness of the paint before using a rubbing compound. This can be achieved with a coating thickness gauge, which will provide 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 steps to make the process easier. For example, when it comes to paint correction, you should always avoid direct sunlight and heated surfaces. This can cause further defects to appear on the paintwork.

We highly recommend that you use detailing tape to cover edges or plastic trim. These compounds can cause permanent marks to trim, which may require a plastic restorer in order to rectify the markings.


When the sun shines on your paintwork, it can often bring out all the defects and flaws, thus ruin its appearance. However, investing in a quality rubbing compound can effortlessly remove these defect and provide the perfect surface ready for waxing.

All of our recommendations cover a range of different abrasive formulas, budgets and brands that will provide great results when performing paint correction on your car. They will all remove car scratches, swirl marks, water spots and other defects.

For tackling deep scratches in small areas, you may want to check out some car scratch remover kits. They will provide you with everything need to tackle deeper scratches that the rubbing compound was not able to correct.

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