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How to Use Rubbing Compound

What is Rubbing Compound and How Should I Use it?

Difficulty: Easy


What is Rubbing Compound?

Rubbing compound, also known as cutting compound or abrasive compound, is a thick liquid containing fine abrasive particles which act as a very fine, fluid sandpaper. It is used to eliminate fine scratches and blemishes within the paintwork as it smooths down the edges of scratches and evens the surface. It can also be used to remove a very fine layer of old paint to reveal a newer looking layer of paint underneath. Rubbing compound will, however, also take wax off of the car, so it should be applied before any wax.


Step 1: Preparing Your Surface

The first step before you apply rubbing compound is to wash the surface in order to remove any dirt that might damage your paint. Wash your surface thoroughly with a sponge, clean water and mild car shampoo to remove any dirt or grime. This creates a clean, blank surface for you to work on.


Rinse and remove any excess water or moisture with a drying cloth.


If you're using the rubbing compound to fix scratches, you may want to use a guide coat to find the span of the area that you need to work on. For a tutorial on how to use guide coat, click here.


To remove scratches

Using a spray bottle, wet the area you're working on.


Sand the surface with a piece of 2000-3000 grit wet-or-dry paper wrapped around a block using a back and forth movement.


Wipe away any paint debris with a damp microfibre cloth in wide circular motions.


Step 2: Applying the Rubbing Compound


Before applying any of the compound, make sure your surface isn't in direct sunlight.


You can either use an orbital sander and wool pad or a hand-held compound pad.


Apply rubbing compound all over the scratches or weathered paint. Move the pad or sander with moderate pressure in small circular motions, pausing over any scratches for 10-20 seconds until the compound has completely disappeared. There shouldn't be any visible streaks or residue.


Rinse off with water, allow to dry and your car is ready to be polished and waxed.


Products Used In This Tutorial


Cellulose Vehicle Sponge


Car Shampoos

Farecla G3 Professional High Shine Shampoo 500ml


Meguiars Gold Class Car Wash Shampoo & Conditioner 532ml


Drying Cloth

Meguiars Water Magnet Microfibre Drying Towel


Guide Coat

3M Orange Dry Guide Coat, 50g


Spray Bottle

Concept Mini Water Spray Bottle 600ml


Wet-Or-Dry Paper

3M P2000, 138mm x 230mm, Wetordry Sheet 401Q, Qty of 50


Sanding Block

Fast Mover Dense Rubber Red Sanding Block 125 x 70mm


Microfibre Cloth

Farecla Finishing Cloth (Pack of 3)


3M Microfibre Detailing Cloth


Orbital Sander

3M Elite Random Orbital Sander, 152 mm, 2.5 mm orbit


Wool Pad

3M Superbuff III Pad, 203 mm


Compounding Pad

3M Perfect-It Foam Compounding Pad, 75 mm