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Removing Polish and Wax from Rubber Trim


Shown below is the perfect reason to tape off trim on your car!  We have all seen it, but may not know how to fix it…I am talking about the stained rubber trim around windows, lights, door seals, etc.  “Forgetting” to mask off these areas leaves an unsightly sight…white trim!

Here you can see what I am talking about.  This is from a Mercedes that just came from a body shop.  I had previously detailed this car prior to the accident so I know it wasn’t like this before getting treatment done at the body shop.  By NOT taping this section off, staining occurs and requires more work to remove the damage.  It takes about 20 seconds to tape off the window trim with some Meguiar’s masking tape.  I would much rather do that than spend 5-10 minutes cleaning up the mess left behind!


In order to remove the polish from the rubber trim, I took a bit of Meguiar’s all purpose cleaner plus and a microfiber towel to it.  What I did to prevent APC from spraying all over the car was spray the towel itself away from the car.  Then I ran the towel over the whole area to get it pre-soaked.  I reapplied some more APC to the towel and began wiping and scrubbing.  I used my other free hand on the backside for support since without holding the back, the rubber would just come out of the plug holes and fold over.  After this step, I washed the area with ONR to remove the APC from the door and rubber.  Sometimes, you will have to take a tooth brush and APC and work a small section at a time for stains that have been there for a long time, or the use of a steamer might come in handy as well!  I wouldn’t leave the steam in one spot too long, but a few quick passes might loosen from the polish/wax enough to make the cleaning much easier.


Once the rubber was cleaned up and looking fresh, I added some 303 Aerospace Protectant to it in order to protect against UVrays and the outside elements.  This also adds a matte finish completing the look of the car!

So there you go!  The steps to clearing up stained trim are: wash, APC clean, wash, protect.  Step to prevent yourself from having to do this, TAPE IT OFF!!!

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Eric Schuster Envious Detailing
Eric Schuster
Envious Detailing
Orange County, CA

12 comments on Removing Polish and Wax from Rubber Trim

  1. Joseph Scarver says:

    Good and useful advice for those of us weekend warriors who are lazy or forgetful ( I fit in both categories ) and start polishing and/or waxing before preparing properly. Thanks for the good tip.

  2. irfan says:

    I used apc+ as well for this when I got wax on my trim! worked great. other things that also worked for me was meguiars #39 and a regular pink eraser:)

  3. Bob says:

    Alternatively if it’s wax that stained your trim believe it or not Peaut Butter will remove the wax stains from trim. I have fond memories of back in the day (the 70’s) when my dad paid me to wax his car monthly and then got upset when I got good old Turtle Wax Hard shell on the trim and giving me a jar of peanut butter to get it off. Of course follow up with a wash.

  4. Eric Schuster Eric says:

    you know what, I have always heard that PB works, but have yet to try it out…maybe thats because if there is PB, there better be some bread and jelly close by as well because Im always HUNGRY!!!! hahaha,

  5. Danny R. says:

    Peanut butter does work ok, a pink eraser will really do the trick on black textured or not textured trim. Follow that up with an APC of your choice like Meguiars mentioned above. I personally use Zep Citrus at 4:1 (using an APC at full strength is not necessary so diluting it with distilled water will make it cost effective and safe for the trim and paint) agitating with a Swissvax Detail Brush then followed up with by snow foaming the vehicle and washing via TBM with Gritguards. Then protecting with on of the following 303, Blackwow, PB World Trim Restorer, or Cquartz.

    Danny R.

  6. Arief says:

    An alternative is to use wax that doesn’t stain trim like Optimum’s. 🙂

  7. Mike says:

    Hi Eric,

    How about that plastic or some type of material used on Honda Civic. It starts from the windshield and goes all the way back. It’s about one inch in length.
    Will 303 AeroSpace work?

  8. Kasey says:

    What about using trim dye?

  9. Kim Smith says:

    Hi Eric. This may seem like a silly question, but why did you wash the rubber trim with ONR after cleaning it with the APC? I thought I could just apply 303 after the APC?

  10. Eric Schuster Eric says:

    I like to “rinse/wash” after using APC on anything. I am sure you would be fine, but I like to take the cautious route. 303 has some light cleaning ability to it, but I am not 100% certain it cleans APC.

  11. I use soft sponge sprayed lightly with 3 in 1 oil, does the job in 2 minutes, light oil discolours the white marks easy, try it.

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