3 Effective Ways To Remove Swirl Marks On Your Car

3 Effective Ways To Remove Swirl Marks On Your Car


This post is all about removing swirl marks on your car’s paintwork. 

Aside from telling you about effective ways to remove swirl marks, I’ve also compiled answers to the most common questions when it comes to swirl marks like:

  • What are the causes of swirl marks?
  • Will automatic car washes cause swirl marks?
  • Can swirl marks be prevented or minimized?

If you want to keep your car’s paintwork in its best condition, this post is for you. 

Let’s get started. 

Causes Of Swirl Marks

Many people ask why their car’s finish has swirl marks. They also ask if automatic or drive-through car washes increase them. 

So let’s answer those right now. 

Swirl marks may not be instantly visible, but when light reflects on the paintwork, you just can’t ignore how unsightly it looks.

Swirl marks occur when: 

  1. Buffing your car with the wrong buffing pad type. 
  2. Waxing your car with too much pressure.
  3. Dusting it with rough fabrics and dirty chamois.
  4. Moving around the car cover you put over it. 
  5. Using abrasive polishers and paint cleaners.
  6. Using unrinsed wash mitts.
  7. Not rinsing the surface before washing with the car cleaner. 

What about drive-through car wash stations? Do they scratch your car’s paint? 

Sadly, yes. A drive-through car wash might be fast and cheap, but it will ruin your paintwork. 

In the long run, it will cost you more because you’ll need some paint correction. 

But why do automatic car washes cause scratches or swirl marks?

In Damon Lawrence’s words, the man who runs Auto Attention, a car detailing business, “automatic car washes… are abrading your paintwork because the brushes are not properly maintained”.

Just think about going after an extra muddy car in a drive-through car wash queue. The dust and other rough contaminants are removed from the car before you can get brushed in yours. 

It’s like slapping your car with a filthy and contaminated mop and brushing it all over. 

Just imagining it should cause your hair to stand on its ends. 

car swirl marks

How Do You Stop Swirl Marks?

Realistically, no matter how careful you are, you won’t be able to stop swirl marks completely. 

The better question is: how can you minimize them?

Here are 5 things you can do:

1. Use high-quality mitts and microfiber towels

These types will gently rid of sticky grime stuck on your car.

2. Use 2 buckets during a car wash

1 for clean water and car soap and another for pure water. You’ll use the bucket with water to rinse your mitt or towel to remove contaminants sticking to it before you dip it in the bucket with soap. 

To save on buckets, you can use a car cleaning gun. It cleans the surface efficiently and you’ll only need 1 bucket, for rinsing the nozzle. 

3. Less physical contact is better when drying your car

You can hose the water off and dry it with a clean microfiber towel. 

Or you can use the air-only option in the least air pressure possible of the car cleaning gun to remove most of the water. Using this will mean minimized use of drying towels.

4. Use minimum pressure on the towel when drying the car

5. Use gentle car cleaners

For cars with ceramic coats, use a cleaner with a neutral pH level. Here’s another blog to know what works best for ceramic coats. 

Since swirl marks are inevitable, how can you fix them? Here are some ways. 

3 Ways To Remove Swirl Marks

1. Use A Rubbing Compound

Swirl mark removers like Carfidant Scratch And Swirl Remover is a rubbing compound. This versatile product has a powerful formula to remove swirls, scratches, dirt, and even watermarks on your car’s finish. 

Carfidant Scratch And Swirl Remover


The downside is:

Rubbing compounds are abrasive material and it also requires extra rubbing. Doing so reveals the layer underneath thinning the paintwork layer. 

Other than that, rubbing compounds need to be applied frequently. 

Yes, it’s effective, but it thins out your paint fast. 

2. Use A Swirl Removing Polish

3D Speed All-In-One is one example of a swirl-removing polish. This product not just polishes, but also acts as a sealant and wax for the paintwork. 

After applying the product, the car finish’s shine is restored and it doesn’t require a lot of rubbing. 

3D Speed All-In-One Swirl Removing Polish


The downside is:

It only works for minor scratches, not big and deeper ones. 

What about pure wax, can it remove swirl marks?

No, it doesn’t.

Wax just hides the swirls, it doesn’t remove it. It fills micro-scratches so the paint looks even. Like rubbing compounds, it requires constant reapplication. 

3. Use Toothpaste

You read that right, toothpaste, the substance you brush your teeth with. It’s the home solution for swirl marks in your car. 

You might ask, “can toothpaste remove scratches?”. 

Here’s how toothpaste works:

Toothpaste acts like softer sandpaper. Gently rubbing it on the paintwork will catch the contaminants and sand them off. 

Just like when we brush our teeth, the toothpaste sands the teeth to remove plaque. 

Ever wonder why many kinds of toothpaste have a gritty feel? This is why. 

But wait, do you just apply the swirl mark remover directly on the car’s paint?

3 Steps In Removing Car Swirl Marks

Did you know? 

Applying a swirl mark remover is the 3rd step in removing swirl marks?

Here’s the process:

1. Wash Your Car

Washing your car first removes the contaminants stuck on the surface. It lessens the chances of developing more swirl marks. 

In this step, remember to use at least 2 buckets, one with soap and the other mainly for rinsing. And use high-quality mitts and towels too. 

For a more thorough clean, especially for nooks and crevices in the window trims, grilles, and bumper, use a car cleaning gun

2. Decontaminate Using Clay

The car wash removes the loose dirt, but using a detailing clay removes the more stubborn ones. 

There will be iron fallouts from brake dust and places you pass by like construction sites. If you want to remove these contaminants, spray iron fallout remover on the surface. 

As for the rest of the stubborn dirt, you’ll need the detailing clay. This glides effortlessly on the car’s finish while grabbing anything protruding from it by getting it stuck on the bar. 

To cover the large area efficiently, work in either 2x2 or 3x3 sections then lightly scrub the clay on the paintwork. 

3. Apply Swirl Mark Remover

This step finishes the job. When the contaminants are no longer on the surface, it’s time to treat them to remove or hide the swirl marks. (Depends on what product you’re using)

Like the clay bar, work in sections to be efficient. 

Just remember to use a good quality applicator when applying the product so it won’t defeat the purpose. 

Happy working on your swirl marks!

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