A Guide To The Best Swirl Remover

Have you ever finished washing your ride and as you are drying it, you see those ugly swirl marks in the paint?

You might be scratching your head wondering how they got there because you take such good care of your ride.

Well, no need to worry.

Swirl marks aren’t that serious and they can be removed from the paint easier than you might think.

Have you ever run your finger over a swirl mark? Have you noticed that you can’t feel any ridges or bumps like other scratches?

Swirl marks are nothing more than micro-marring of the surface. They are not permanent damage.

How Do I Get Rid of Swirl Marks?

To remove swirl marks in your car’s paint, you need to use the best type of polish for your vehicle.

It will take some elbow grease to get these marks off your vehicle’s paint job, but it will be well worth it.

If you’re on the lookout for a good car polish, I’ve already done the homework for you.

Best Overall
Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze Ultra Finishing Polish

Anyone who knows me or my Dad knows that we are both long-time Meguiar’s fans. This finishing polish is our absolute favorite for removing swirl marks and other minor imperfections.

You can’t beat Meguiar’s for exceptional results. Especially when it comes to those ugly swirl marks. This isn’t only for swirls marks, but this also is one of the best scratch removers for your car.

This one of the best professional grade polishes that leaves a pretty shine. It also removes other minor factors that mar your beautiful paint. Those include swirl marks, holograms, and minor scratches.

I especially like this polisher/remover because you can use a hand buffer or use it by hand. I am an old-fashioned and like to get hands-on with my car. But there are days when I don’t have the energy or time that it takes to buff the car by hand. That makes this product easy to use

You can use Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze using a rotary buffer, or a dual-action polisher. The choice is entirely yours. It depends on how difficult or deep the spots are that you need to remove.

Meguiar’s has an entire car-care line of Mirror Glaze products. You can buy their car wash, finishing polish, sealing wax, and even a detailing clay to remove more stubborn scratches.

You can use Meguiar’s finishing polish on other painted surfaces as well, not just on your vehicle’s paint. This would include your motorcycle or off-road ATV.

In my opinion, this is the best paint polish you can buy. I love the glossy finish it leaves behind as a reward for hard work.

Let me offer one piece of firsthand advice. Avoid getting the polish on any plastic parts. It will discolor them or form a white haze that is difficult to remove. You might consider masking off some of those pieces if they are difficult to avoid.

Meguiar’s is perfectly safe for removing imperfections in the clear coat. It works wonders on dark-colored vehicles, including black cars.

In my opinion, this is the ultimate product when it comes to removing swirl marks from your car’s paint.

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Best Budget Option
TriNova Scratch Swirl Remover

After all the praise I just gave Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze, you probably won’t want to hear any of the rest of my suggestions.

But I do know the hard truth. Meguiar’s isn’t cheap.

If you can’t bear to pay a premium price for Meguiar’s, it doesn’t mean you will need to live with your swirl marks. You can still remove them with this kit from TriNova.

TriNova Scratch and Swirl Remover comes with its own sponge applicator. It’s designed to be applied by hand to the paint or using a dual action polisher, so it’s easy to use.

You don’t need an expensive buffer. You can apply this by hand. Work it in good using some elbow grease and then buff it off using a microfiber cloth.

This polish is safe for your clear coat and works on all paint colors, including black and navy-blue paint. If your car’s paint needs more attention, the TriNova company also sells clay bars for removing deeper scratches and swirl marks.

No polish, not even the best polish money can buy, will produce miracles. If you can feel the scratch when you run your finger over it, chances are that it is too deep to remove with polish.

TriNova polish can at least make these deeper paint scratches less visible.

Some users complained that their swirl and scuff marks returned immediately after washing. This is more likely due to deeper scratches in the paint that no polish will remove. The vehicle may have been washed in such a way that the swirl marks were put back on the car.

Don’t want to pay a premium price for an exceptionally good polish and scratch remover? This is the best budget option for those who want to keep their ride looking nice.

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Runner Up
Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover

As big a fan I am of Meguiar’s products, I want to mention Carfidant’s Scratch and Swirl Remover.

I usually never choose the most expensive option when I’m searching for a product. I go one or two notches down in price. I find that most of the time, these products are every bit as good as the most expensive brand. I also save some money by doing so.

It was my wife who found Carfidant at a store and decided to try it on the paint on her black ride. This comes with its own sponge applicator and can be used by hand or with a dual-action polisher. She simply applied it by hand, which made it easy to use.

She followed their instructions for polishing a black car. Even I must admit that this product worked very well.

The car had a variety of issues including some mild oxidation on the trunk. It also had some semi-permanent marks from some local birds who left their mark one weekend. And of course the usual water spots and swirls in the paint.

Everyone knows that black vehicles are notorious for showing every little thing. This car is no exception. I honestly didn’t expect this product to be much of a remover or polish.

The oxidation is still there if you look at the trunk at just the right angle, but you would have to look for it. All the swirl marks in the paint were removed. All of them!

As for the other marks in the paint, they are gone, including the water spots. I was shocked that even the bird poop stains were gone!

I don’t think any product is designed to provide removal of bird poop stains, but Carfidant did the job! I would recommend this as the best bird poop stain remover for car paint, hands down!

On a personal level, I do think that Meguiar’s leaves a better glossy finish. But who can knock a polish that removes swirl marks, scratches and more while leaving a neglected black car looking like it had justbeen detailed?!

For polishing any black vehicle, I would recommend the Carfidant brand to anyone. For the removal of swirls, water spots, even bird reminders, it did an excellent job. 

Now if I can just convince her to wax her ride more than once a decade.

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Honorable Mention
Chemical Guys Scratch and Swirl Remover

Who can do a review of car wax, scratch remover, and polish and not mention The Chemical Guys?

Chemical Guys remain one of the biggest companies in vehicle wash, wax, and polish products. Why? Because they work and they are reasonably priced!

Chemical Guys VSS Scratch and Swirl Remover works more like a light rubbing compound on the paint. It should remove minor to moderate scratches and swirl marks, even from the dreaded black car.

This product is wax and silicone-free, so it is safe for all paint colors and for the clear coat on your vehicle. The Chemical Guys recommend using a dual action polisher for this product. It will remove nearly all minor to moderate scratches, holograms, and swirl marks.

While you can apply this compound by hand, Chemical Guys knows what works best for their products. They recommend a dual action polisher to remove scratches and swirls.

Note that this compound will remove any wax, ceramic coating, or sealant on the car. That means you will need to reapply these products after this polish has been buffed and dried completely.

Some users complain that this product did nothing to remove the swirl marks and scratches in their paint. They felt like they had wasted their money.

Still, others say that VSS Scratch and Swirl Remover only made their swirls worse even when using The Chemical Guy’s own brand of polishing pads.

If you are new to car paint polishing, it might help to watch an instructional video first to ensure that you are handling the product correctly.

Once you are confident about your abilities to handle a rubbing compound product, I don’t think you can go wrong with anything from The Chemical Guys.

Can You Remove Swirl Marks by Hand?

Yes, you absolutely can! The truth is that most of the swirl marks on your car come from damage you do yourself! Doing a bit of polishing by hand is sometimes the best swirl remover ever!

Personally, I know that the swirl marks on my SUV are usually due to dusting my vehicle. I take out the duster and go over the car quickly. I forget to look at how dirty the duster is or if the SUV is more dirty than dusty.

The swirl marks I am making in the paint when I’m sweeping the dust and dirt off my ride are not that deep. Removing them by hand is totally possible.

I like to do my polishing and waxing by hand. I have had no problem removing the swirl marks just using some elbow grease.

Be sure you wash the car using clean, clean, super soft towels that don’t contain polyester.

I know you might see that some microfiber towels are made from polyester. As long as you don’t dry microfiber towels in the dryer, they should be fine.

If you have any doubts, use plain cotton towels or cotton shirts that have had the buttons removed. You can always use my dad’s favorite, cloth diapers. Clean, of course. He swore by them.

You start by washing the vehicle and drying it completely. Use a clean cloth or clean chamois. Be sure the car is out of direct sunlight and use the polishing product of your choice.

Use according to the product’s instructions on the problem areas. You can remove scratches and spots on the entire vehicle if you want.

Last, apply a good protector or wax to the vehicle. You can use a sealant, a ceramic coating, a hybrid wax, or whatever you prefer.

What Causes Swirl Marks?

Swirl Marks

The truth is that many people often cause swirl marks in the paint themselves when they wipe or wash the car. The most common causes of swirl marks include:

  • Harsh or abrasive polishing compounds and/or paint cleaners
  • Towels or other applicators that are made from polyester
  • Using a dry towel to wipe down a dusty vehicle
  • A car duster that has more dirt than dust
  • Polishers or buffers that have the wrong type of pad or inexperienced operators
  • Dirty towels, sponges, microfiber cloths, or chamois
  • Automated car washes
  • Not rinsing your vehicle before washing
  • Using a dirty car cover

You will find most swirl marks on the hood and trunk lid. But on very dark-colored vehicles, especially black cars, you will see them all over.

How Do You Get Rid of Heavy Swirl Marks?

If you’ve tried removing the swirl marks on your car and found that polishing agents don’t get rid of them completely, you might need to take an extra step. You may need to use a slightly different product that is a superior swirl remover.

The Chemical Guys VSS product mentioned above is a good example of a rubbing and polishing compound that will remove heavier swirl marks and scratches.

You might also consider using a dual-action machine polisher with a polishing compound.

If you have read on social media that you can use toothpaste to remove swirl marks, it seems to make sense, right? Toothpaste is lightly abrasive to remove stains and gunk off your teeth so this could work for swirl marks or scratches, right? Uh…no.

Toothpaste is designed for your teeth. This is a vastly different surface than your car’s paint. Toothpaste might work on plastic surfaces such as the dashboard. But you can forget about using it on your car.

Besides, imagine how much it would cost you to cover the entire hood, roof, and trunk with toothpaste?!

Let’s stick to polishing compounds, scratch removers, and dual action polishers.

If you have used these products and you still have those ugly scratches and other unsightly marks, you will most likely need to apply a clay bar to the surface of your car.

I’ll go in to more detail about clay bars as swirl and scratcher removers below.

Will Spray Wax Remove Swirl Marks?

As a rule, no. The wax might make them less noticeable. But to remove swirl marks, the car needs to be polished first, then waxed.

Polish is what removes tiny imperfections in the paint such as swirl marks and minor scratches. Only after polishing should you apply a wax to protect the paint.

There are a few quick waxes or spray-on wax products that promise to hide swirl marks and other imperfections. If you are in a hurry, those might be a good choice to temporarily hide the swirl mark, but it won’t remove them.

These products are designed to fill in the scratches and swirl marks. They will only last a few washes at best. 

To truly remove mild swirl marks, holograms, and scratches, you need to polish the car properly.

In summary, a car polish removes swirls and imperfections from the paint. Wax products protect the paint.

Can a Clay Bar Remove Scratches?

Small scratches, yes. Clay bars are often one of the best removers of heavy swirl marks and scratches. They also help with other types of contaminants on the car paint. 

Clay bars aren’t what you might think they are. Modern clay bars are more like putty than reddish-brown blocks of clay. Most are made from synthetic materials. You will also need a clay lubricant. You don’t want to rub the dry surface of your car with a dry clay bar. Otherwise, you are going to end up having the car professionally painted.

Clean water isn’t enough of a lubricant when it comes to clay bar use. You can purchase a clay bar lubricant usually at the same place you purchased the clay bar.

How To Use A Clay Bar
  • After washing your car, use a small amount of the clay bar (about the size of your palm).
  • Knead it into the shape of a hamburger patty.
  • Working with one section at a time, spray the clay lube on the clay until it is very wet.
  • Then spray the paint liberally.
  • Now, gently wipe the surface you are working on using a left to right motion or an up and down motion.
  • DO NOT rub in a circular motion for obvious reasons.
  • You should rub the panel up and down.
  • The after you have covered the entire surface, go left to right.

If this is your first time using a clay bar, you would be wise to watch several videos on how to use one correctly. This will save you tons of time and headaches later.

When you really want to remove scratches from your ride, it’s hard to beat a clay bar. Keep in mind that you can’t remove scratches so deep that you can see bare metal. These cannot be removed by any home method and must be repainted.

Clay bars are not difficult once you are familiar with them. You might want to practice on an inconspicuous spot until you feel more comfortable. The inside of the door jamb is a perfect place to practice.

Once you get the hang of these little jewels, you will find that these are some of the best removers for deep or heavy swirls and scratches.

How To Use a Polisher from Chemical Guys

The Bottom Line

Nobody ever says that getting and keeping that sexy showroom shine is easy.

No matter how careful you are, scratches, swirls, water spots, and other things are bound to happen, marring that deep shine.

That mirror quality, lustrous, shine you are looking for is hidden away underneath some micro-scratches.

This can often be removed by hand when you pick the best polish for your vehicle’s paint.

Unless you have deep swirls and moderate scratches, you can remove most minor imperfections when you use the best polish and scratch remover.

While I favor Meguiar’s Mirror Glaze, you might find a difference of opinion.

Remember that, when it comes to cars, the right polish, the best oil, and the best beer, there are as many different opinions as there are products to choose from.

You know what? Everyone is right, too.

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Jason Caldwell

Jason Caldwell

Car Fanatic. Performance Geek. Flathead lover.

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