How to Clean Plastic Chrome on Your Car? (3 Ways)

Written by

Bruce Sonnier


Marcus Dutton

how to clean plastic chrome on your car

Modern car designs now allow vehicle consumers to have an added elegance of chrome through a more affordable, lightweight, and durable option of plastic chrome. However, compared to chrome-plated metals, they have a less durable finish, so cleaning them requires special care and products not to scratch and damage them.

So this article will educate vehicle owners on how to clean plastic chrome on your car safely and restore plastic chrome to pristine condition.

Below are some recommendable cleaning products best suited for the task, including homemade chrome cleaner options, commercial cleaners, etc.

Steps to Clean Plastic Chrome on Your Car

Before cleaning, there are some things you should avoid doing:

  1. Do not polish plastic chrome because it has a thin, delicate finish, and the polish is very abrasive and can cause scratches and micro-marring on the chrome plating.
  2. Clay bar is another highly abrasive cleaning product you should avoid.
  3. Harsh cleaners must also not be used, as they can etch and damage the chrome plating.
  4. Avoid using too much force on the surface so as not to damage the chrome plating.

Now that we have that cleared up let’s move on to the plastic chrome cleaning.

There are three cleaner choices: toothpaste, distilled white vinegar, and commercial cleaner.

Step 1: Surface Cleaning


What to Prepare:

  1. Car wash soap
  2. Water
  3. Wash mitt
  4. Microfiber cloth

Start with regular washing and drying on the entire car exterior or at least the chrome-plated plastic parts you will be working on. Surface cleaning first will ensure the cleanliness of your target areas.

Step 2: Clean the Plastic Chrome

#1 Toothpaste Method

Toothpaste can also be used as a car chrome trim cleaner. Because of its alkaline properties and mild abrasiveness, it can effectively clean plastic chrome, remove scratches, and overall make chrome shiny again.


  1. Prepare an opaque white toothpaste and some soft cloths.
  2. Apply a layer of toothpaste on the chrome surface.
  3. Using a soft cloth, gently work the opaque toothpaste in circular rubbing movements onto the chrome surface for about two to four minutes.
  4. With another cloth, gently wipe off the residues from cleaning.

Related: Best ways to clean chrome trim on a car.

#2 Distilled White Vinegar Method

As a slightly acidic substance, vinegar has excellent cleaning abilities. It can even clean tarnished chrome and reveal its original smooth, shiny surface.


Prepare the following:

  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Spray bottle
  • Cotton cloth or washcloth


  1. Fill a spray bottle with an adequate amount of distilled white vinegar for cleaning the plastic chrome. You don’t have to dilute it, as it should be used as is.
  2. Apply the vinegar spray on the chrome surface. Leave it on the surface for a few minutes, but don’t let it sit for too long.
  3. Using a cotton cloth or washcloth, wipe off the residues on the surface.

#3 Commercial Cleaner Method

If you’d instead go for commercial cleaners, some products from Bowden’s Own are highly recommended, particularly the Clean Detail spray and Paint Cleanse and Restore. It’s also advisable to use their specialized microfiber cloths called Big Softie cloths and these cleaners for best results.


What to Prepare:

  1. Commercial cleaners – Detail Clean spray and Paint Cleanse and Restore
  2. Microfiber cloths – Big Softie cloths

Steps to follow:

  1. First, use the Clean Detail spray. With this product, you can clean off stubborn dirt and grime that you couldn’t with regular washing.
  2. Apply the Clean Detail spray on the plastic chrome.
  3. Then, clean the chrome surface with a Big Softie cloth’s high pile or plush side.
  4. Next, deep-clean using the Paint Cleanse and Restore. This product will allow you to get rid of water spots, other stubborn marks, and even light pitting and plastic chrome oxidation.

Before applying the product, thoroughly shake the bottle first.Apply a 10-cent-sized amount of the product on another Big Softie cloth’s low pile side.

  1. Gently rub the product onto the plastic chrome.
  2. Buff the chrome surface using the Big Softie cloth’s high pile side.

Step 3: Apply Sealant on the Plastic Chrome


Finish it off with a sealant. It’s important to apply a sealant to protect and shine chrome.

  1. Prepare a good-quality sealant and some microfiber cloths.
  2. Apply four to six sprays of the sealant on the microfiber cloth’s low pile side.
  3. Wipe the sealant onto the plastic chrome.
  4. Finally, use the other cloth’s low pile side for removing residual moisture.


The key to getting the best, scratch and damage-free results in how to clean plastic chrome on your car is gentle cleaning, using the appropriate cleaning products that aren’t very abrasive and harsh, and providing protection and shine-enhancement with a sealant.

By taking good care of your car’s plastic chrome, its elegance and shine will be maintained and add to the overall aesthetic of your car.

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– Bruce Sonnier