Car Wash Scratched My Car, What to Do? Here is Your Answer

car wash scratched my car what to do

So you just came from the car wash, and to your shock, you found yourself in a “car wash scratched my car, what to do?” kind of situation. You can always take your car to a professional for car polishing. But if you’d rather go DIY to avoid high expenses, just read this article to know what to do.

In a nutshell, to get rid of car wash scratches by yourself, you’ll need to polish your car either by hand or with an orbital buffer. But before car polishing, some preparatory steps must be done first, such as giving your car a thorough cleaning and inspecting it for scratches.

Preparatory Steps


Step 1: Prepare the following

  • Car Washing Tools and Products – The recommended methods for car washing are the touchless method or the two-bucket method.
  • For the touchless method, you’ll need a pressure washer, foam cannon, snow foam shampoo, water, and air compressor or blower.
  • While for the two-bucket method, you’ll need two buckets, car wash shampoo, water, a microfiber wash mitt, and a microfiber cloth.
  • Clay Bar – Contaminants that can’t be cleaned off simply by car washing can be removed with a clay bar.
  • Clay Bar Lubricant – You would need to use a clay bar lubricant along with the clay bar to slide smoothly on the paintwork and not cause more scratches.
  • Tar or Bug Remover – Tar or bug remover may be necessary for cleaning off stubborn stains.
  • Bright Flash Light – A bright flashlight would help you better see the scratches on car from car wash if you’re working indoors or in a shaded area. Some lights are specifically designed for inspecting paintwork. But a regular flashlight would also be fine, as long as the light it emits is bright.

Step 2: Wash Your Car

Wash your car first for you to be able to remove car wash scratches. To avoid causing any more scratches to your car, it would be best to use either the touchless or two-bucket methods.

  • In the touchless method, you’ll only make use of a pressure washer, foam cannon, snow foam shampoo, water, and air compressor or blower to wash your car. Thus the possibility of grinding particles on the surface is eliminated, which prevents further scratching.
  • In the two-bucket car method, use one bucket for the soapy water and another bucket containing water for rinsing off particles from the wash mitt.

Step 3: Rub off the Stubborn Contaminants With a Clay Bar

Remove stubborn contaminants left behind after car washing using a clay bar and clay bar lubricant. Spray clay bar lubricant on the surface, then gently glide the clay bar on it in straight lines or crisscross patterns to remove the stubborn contaminants.

Step 4: Get Rid of Stubborn Stains With a Tar or Bug Remover

For stubborn stains on your car, you can clean them off using a tar or bug remover. Just follow the instructions on the product label on how to use it.

Step 5: Inspect the Paintwork for Scratches

Go around your car to thoroughly inspect it for car wash scratches that need polishing. If you’re working outdoors with natural bright light from the sun, then it will be easy to spot scratches.

But if you’re working indoors or in a shaded area, it would help to use a bright flashlight to shine a light over the paintwork to see the scratches.

How to Hand Polish to Remove Scratches


Step 1: Prepare the following

  • Compound – Suppose you’re dealing with scratches on black car after car wash. Then, it’s advisable to use a specialized compound for black cars, especially as scratches on black cars are more noticeable.
  • Refining Polish
  • Hex Grip Applicators – Hex grip applicators would help make car wash scratch removal easier. You’ll need two of them, one for working the compound onto the paintwork and the other for finishing with a refining polish.
  • Microfiber Towels

Step 2: Work the Compound Onto the Paintwork Using a Hex Grip Applicator

Shake the compound bottle first to ensure that all its ingredients get mixed, and put a small amount of the compound on the hex grip applicator.

Then spread it with the hex grip applicator, working in circular motions starting from the middle going out to avoid loading the products into the car’s cracks.

Work the compound repeatedly in circular motions, mimicking the rotations of an orbital buffer. You may also use linear motions in between. After working the compound onto the paintwork, wipe away the excess product from the surface using a microfiber towel.

Step 3: Work the Refining Polish Onto the Paintwork Using a Hex Grip Applicator

Like the compound, you would first have to shake the bottle of refining polish before putting some of it on a hex grip applicator.

Then take the other unused hex grip applicator and put a small refining polish on it.

You’re also going to work the refining polish on the paintwork the same way as the compound. Finally, use a microfiber towel to wipe away the excess refining polish from the surface.

Polishing With an Orbital Buffer


Step 1: Prepare the following items

  • Orbital Buffer – Polishing car scratches from car wash would be much faster, easier, and more effective with the use of an orbital buffer.
  • Compound – You’ll need a compound to use along with the orbital buffer to get car wash scratches out.
  • Polishing Pad – Two polishing pads would be needed, one for working the compound onto the paintwork and another for working the finishing polish onto the paintwork.
  • Finishing Polish – After working the compound onto the paintwork, you’ll be applying finishing polish as a final touch for best polishing results.
  • Microfiber Towels

Step 2: Apply the Compound Onto the Paintwork

To start, shake the compound bottle and put dime-sized amounts of the compound scattered around the buffing pad.

Then, without turning the orbital buffer on, transfer some of the compound applied on the buffing pad onto the surface by pressing the pad onto different spots around the area. Apply the compound evenly to prevent the product from flinging off when the orbital buffer is turned on.

Step 3: Work the Compound Onto the Paintwork With the Orbital Buffer

Turn the polisher on, put it into the medium setting and start polishing. It’s advisable to work with just the right amount of pressure to notice a change of pitch from the applied pressure.

Work in one small area at a time, gently moving the orbital buffer back and forth. And when moving on to another side, significantly overlap with the side you previously worked on. This technique ensures that the polishing is well-blended and that there are no spaces left unpolished.

After polishing the surface with an orbital buffer, wipe away the excess product using a microfiber towel.

Step 4: Work the Finishing Polish Onto the Paintwork With the Orbital Buffer

First, replace the polishing pad with a new one. Then shake the bottle of finishing polish and apply the finishing polish on the orbital buffer the same way you did the compound.

You’re also going to apply and work the finishing polish with the orbital buffer on the paintwork in the same way as the compound. Lastly, wipe the excess product off with a microfiber towel.

Protecting Your Car’s Paintwork

After your unfortunate car wash experience, you should be more cautious and avoid automatic car washes to prevent scratches from car wash brushes.

But there’s still another safer option for quick, effortless car washing, which is the touchless car wash that doesn’t use brushes.

Moreover, an extra step you can do for your paintwork’s protection is to apply wax, sealant, or ceramic coating to it after polishing it.

Among the protection options, the longest-lasting is the ceramic coating, which could last as long as two years. Next is the sealant, which can last for five to six months. While the wax can last for a couple of weeks to a few months.

Bringing Your Car to a Professional Service

If you fail to repair the scratches yourself, you might want to rely on professional and reliable service to make it right:

  • Car detailing – They will clean and polish the whole car, including the top and bottom using professional tools and cleaning products. They can also do some color corrections upon request.
  • Car polishing: This service can smoothen surface defects, including scuffs and scratches on your car.
  • Auto-body painting – If the scratches are severe and your self-polishing does not repair most parts of the car, you might want to try the drastic method of painting. As the old layer is sanded down completely, new paint and protective coating will be applied.


Now that the “Car wash scratched my car, what to do?” scenario has been sorted out for you. Hopefully, you’ll be able to polish your car successfully. We’d also like to know your thoughts on this article, so kindly tell us in the comments. Kindly also share this article to help educate more car owners.

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