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How to Get Car Wax Off Rubber or Black Plastic Trim

You may have heard that you shouldn’t get car wax (specifically that yellow carnauba paste) on any type of trim, but why? The simple answer I’ll cover later is that dried-on wax can be super difficult to remove once it dries on a porous surface like vinyl trim.

But it’s there…so now what? In this post, I’ll break down a few common products you can use to remove wax from black trim or plastic.

Option 1: Magic Rub white pencil eraser

Ideal for

Small areas of dried-on wax


Pro tip: square white pencil erasers are one of the most effective and affordable ways to remove wax from black trim or plastic. It’s easy (I’ve tried it) and safe…as opposed to heat guns or other methods that tend to discolor or fade the plastic.

You can use a pink gummy eraser if you already have one, I just prefer these white erasers because they just seem to work 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.

Gummy erasers I’ve found are great for dried wax, but use a spray-on product for the fresh stuff (like liquid waxes).

Option 2: Trim Clean by Chemical Guys

Ideal for

Removing wax overspray on vinyl (as you wax)


If you wax a lot and want need something for fresh wax, this product by Chemical Guys is a good one to have around simply to remove wax or oils…nothing else. This type of product is good to use if you wax regularly…not if you have old, dried wax to remove.

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

Option 3: Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

Ideal for

Removing dried on wax on small to medium trim pieces


Ahh..the Magic Eraser. This product does a pretty good job at removing 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.

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 4: McKee’s 37 Wax Remover

Ideal for

Removing wax without a ton of scrubbing, for pros


McKee’s 37 is  great spray-on wax remover for plastic and trim, and a brand many detailers prefer to use for this use case.. 

You can find this product in a two-pack with a brush. It’s similar to the Chemical Guys product, but more potent and a bit better (and expensive).

Option 5: Meguiar’s M39 Mirror Glaze Heavy-Duty Vinyl Cleaner

Ideal for

Cleaning and removing wax, multipurpose use


M39 is a heavy-duty vinyl cleaner that does a good job of removing wax, and is a cleaner that works great on all vinyl, plastic, or rubber surfaces. One of my personal favorites, I use this stuff to clean trim all the time. 

You can also follow this up with M40 Mirror Glaze product Meguiar’s makes, which is a cleaner/conditioner. Both are similar, this one just acts more as a dressing to enhance the shine of your trim or molding.

Check out this post where I clean my Jeep’s vinyl interior to see this product in action.

Frequently asked questions

Can trim restorers or trim detailers remove wax?

Many of the trim restoration products you typically will find on store shelves aren’t designed to remove wax from black trim areas of your vehicle. What they do is restore the appearance of this white or faded-looking plastic; trim restorers cover up wax without removing it.

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 using a trim restorer remove any trapped wax, pollen, or other particles using one of the products mentioned above.

Quick tip!

There are some spray waxes designed for 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.

Why is car wax so hard to remove from plastic and vinyl?

Some plastic trim pieces are textured to the touch and porous, which allows wax particles to get lodged inside these pores. Soap and 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.

Will wax damage trim?

A bit of 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 either.

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.

Should you tape off trim before waxing?

It’s not a bad idea to use painter’s tape when waxing around trim, especially when using a polisher that can sling wax on trim.  It comes down to personal preference. For the average joe who waxes by hand it’s not really necessary…just be careful. So there you have it.

For more car cleaning tips like this one, check out my post 17 Interior Detailing Secrets Used by the Pros.

This post was updated on January 17, 2023.

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