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How to Remove Dried-On Wax from Textured Black Plastic or Rubber Moldings?

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A common mistake owners make when waxing their vehicle is that they use too much wax, and sometimes they may have a tendency to be sloppy and excessive with the application. The end result is dried, hard to remove wax on moldings, in the cracks, edges of pin striping/decals, and around emblems. This unsightly wax can often be very difficult to remove for most owners, and more often than not they decide to just live with it. Luckily a lot of the newer waxes and sealants on the market today are safe from this and will not leave white residue behind. Optimum Opti-Seal is a very good example of such a product. Regardless, we still need to remove the dried wax which is currently detracting from the overall appearance of the car.

While there are several methods that can be used to remove this white residue, I find that the use of an All Purpose Cleaner (APC) and a good detail brush works best. I’ll do this by thoroughly washing the whole car first. Then I will spray an APC like P21S TAW on the affected areas and let it dwell for a few seconds and then gently agitate the areas using the detail brush. I also like to dip the brush into my wash bucket to get some soapy water on it too. Repeat if necessary.

Keep in mind however, that the cleaner will most likely remove wax from all painted areas it comes in contact with (areas where you WANT wax!), so you may want to re-apply wax to those areas in particular once you’re finished.

Hope this helps.

Chad Rskovich Rasky's Auto Detailing
Chad Raskovich
Rasky's Auto Detailing
Minneapolis, MN
RaskyAutoDetailing.com

7 comments on How to Remove Dried-On Wax from Textured Black Plastic or Rubber Moldings?

  1. Joe says:

    Great tips Rasky! Good timing too – a family member just took delivery of a new BMW and the dealer got wax residue all around the sunroof. Typical dealer hackjobs. I can’t wait to see what the paint looks like once the filling glaze wears off.

  2. Ray says:

    Rasky,

    Excellent post! After cleaning the exterior rubber seals, what would you suggest to seal/protect those? Would you seal with one product then top that with a product like 303? Also, how would you seal/protect portions of trim such as the rear diffuser area on many performance cars? Would you use a sealant such as BFWD or a vinyl/plastic protectant like 303?

    Thanks for your help!

    ~Ray

  3. Hello Ray,

    303 is normally my go to product for seals and protection of black plastic trim, but there are also many other good options. For the actual door seals, many of my fellow detailers and car enthusiasts seem to love the Einszett 1Z Gummi Pflege, so that would be another option for you.

    As far as using BFWD goes, I personally only use it for painted components of the car. While I have not noticed any kind of staining on plastic/rubber trim from BFWD, I usually try not to use products outside their intended purpose and I think 303 would be a better option IMO.

    Hope this helps,
    Rasky

  4. Ray says:

    Thanks for your insight, Rasky!

    I like your rationale for using BFWD on just the painted items. How often do you redress the items you’ve protected with 303? Each wash? Also, how do you protect clear pieces like the headlights, taillights, or quarter panel turn signals?

    Thanks again,

    ~Ray

    • Hey Ray,

      I’m fortunate not to have any trim that requires regular dressing on my car, but if it did I would likely reapply 303 each time I wash the vehicle since it’s water based. If your trim is already neglected and faded, there are more durable options for dressings too.

      For plastic headlights, tail lights, and side maker lamps I will usually just use any good sealant. Opti-Seal works especially well since it’s clear and you don’t have to worry about getting product in raised lettering or seams found on many of the light covers.

      Cheers,
      Rasky

  5. Mike Schubert says:

    After trying hot soapy wash, rubbing alcohol, and other mentioned remedies; the thing I found that worked the best (and did not damage adjacent waxed painted areas) was to use Turtle Wax Bug and Tar Remover applied with a cloth then brushed in using a toothbrush. Then remove the Turtle Wax Cleaner with a micro fiber cloth. I followed this with Mother’s Back to Black to help shine and restore the black color. I have pictures showing the results and they were very good.

  6. Hirantha says:

    Does anyone know wether the Turtle Wax Bug & Tar Remover leave a white residue on black plastic trims??

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