How to Get Car Wax Off Rubber or Black Plastic Trim

Most people know that you should avoid getting car wax (specifically that yellow carnauba paste) on any type of trim, but why? The answer really comes down to the fact that dried on wax can be super difficult to remove when it dries.

Why Wax Is Hard to Remove From Plastic

A lot of plastic trim pieces are textured to the touched and pretty porous, which allows wax particles to get lodged inside these pores. This is the main reason this type of wax is so hard to remove, since water and soap alone are unable to lift the particles out.

This causes the appearance of a white haze that can make it look like the plastic itself is fading when it’s really just trapped wax.

Below are a few products I have come across that do a pretty good job at this task. Most of these spray-on products are ideal for detailers that deal with removing wax from plastic on a regular basis.

However if you are just looking for a simple inexpensive solution for your personal vehicle, there are other options if you don’t want to purchase a more expensive spray or cleaner.

Option 1: Magic Rub White Pencil Erasers

Square white pencil erasers are one of the most effective ways I’ve seen to remove wax from black trim or plastic. Many people will use heat guns or other methods that tend to discolor or fade the plastic, but this is a safe method you can try that should do the trick.

You can try a pink gummy eraser if you already have one, I just prefer these white erasers since I think they work just a little bit better.

After trying this on my truck, I can say firsthand that it definitely does a great job in hard-to-reach areas and doesn’t require any chemicals or liquids.

Trim Clean by Chemical Guys

This product by Chemical Guys is one of the more expensive options I’ve seen for removing wax that can remove wax or oils from trim (depending on which one you have). This product I found on Amazon for 17 bucks, which was a little expensive for a spray-on trim cleaner.

If you are careful, you shouldn’t really ever need to use much of this stuff, but is nice to have in your toolbox of supplies.

Option 2: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

This product does a great job at helping to remove paint transfer from car bumpers, and is also pretty effective at removing wax on plastic trim. It is slightly abrasive, so it can help remove wax lodged in porous plastic trim pieces.

You want to avoid making contact with your vehicle’s paint, as it’s can potentially mar the paint and remove any wax or sealant you have (which you obviously don’t want). A great product, just not for painted surfaces.

Option 3: McKee’s 37 Wax Remover

This product does exactly what it’s formulated to do by dissolving wax that has dried on black trim. It really works for any surface, and it’s spray-on application makes it a little more convenient than other methods.

This product comes with a nylon brush for areas where a lot of old wax has built up, and is a top choice for detailers. It is also effective at removing polish or compound residue that may also be left behind.

Option 4: Meguiar’s M39 Mirror Glaze Heavy Duty Vinyl Cleaner

This is one product that does a good job at removing wax, and is a cleaner that works great on all vinyl, plastic, or rubber surfaces. This is really ideal for heavily soiled trim, since it will take everything off with a little scrubbing.

You can also follow this up with a the M40 Mirror Glaze product Meguiar’s makes, which is a dressing to enhance the shine of your trim or molding.

When using a detailing brush, this product is probably the best I’ve used. Check out this post where I clean my Jeep’s vinyl interior to see how the technique works.

Will Trim Restorers or Trim Detailers Work?

Many of the trim restoration products you typically will find on store shelves are really not effective at removing wax from black trim areas of your vehicle.

What they do is restore the appearance of this white or faded looking plastic, and basically just covers it up temporarily by applying an oil of some sort.

I have witnessed this problem firsthand after applying these ‘trim restore’ products, and while they definitely make everything look brand new for a few days, the dried white wax will begin to reappear.

Before applying these a trim restorer or any type of polisher, it’s best to remove any trapped wax, pollen, or other particles from plastic before protecting them. There are certain spray waxes that you can apply to trim that won’t leave behind this white discoloration. Most go on clear, and offer a basic level of protection since they are waxes.

For more information on car care products used to protect your car (or remove scratches) check out my post: Compound vs Clay, Polish & Glaze! 7 Products to Understand.

The Bottom Line

Overall, it really depends on what type of products you use on your paint, but wax is really nothing to worry about on trim since it won’t damage it. Synthetic waxes (as opposed or organic carnauba waxes) are generally safe for trim, so you don’t have much to worry about with those.

Nowadays, many waxes are formulated not to dry white, but if you prefer using paste waxes from time to time (like I do), it’s good to know what you can use to remove wax from these problem areas.

Some people choose to use painter’s tape when waxing (which you can certainly do depending on your vehicle), but for most people it’s just a good idea to be careful.  Just keep one of these cleaning products on hand throughout the waxing process.

Have any other products that you recommend for removing wax from trim? Leave a comment below.

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