The Best Chrome Polish for 2022

A look at the best car chrome polish, how to use it, and the tools to get the job done right so your chrome will look bright and shiny

When you want your car to look its best, you want all the shiny parts to be bright and well… shiny. If you have found that your chrome wheels, bumpers, or trim doesn’t have the same luster and shine it used to, you may need to reach for a can of chrome polish. But, do you know which product is the best for the job? Did you know there are different types of chrome polish? What do you use to clean chrome rims? Do you have the right tools to get the job done?

We can help answer all these questions and more. We will educate you on the best products, techniques, and tools to get your chrome looking amazing and shiny again. We will also show you how to make your own chrome polish if you’re into the DIY thing. Amazingly, it works really well and can be made with household items.

By Maurice Rodriguez
January 15, 2022

Chrome is a very controversial divisive car accessory. We can all agree that it looks great on almost anything, trim, bumpers, engine bays, mufflers, rims, and motorcycles. However, most manufacturers have shied away from adding it to most modern cars because it decreases fuel economy (because of the added weight) and is expensive which makes the car more expensive to manufacture.

Nevertheless, if you still have chrome rims, bumpers, or chrome bits that have lost their shine due to oxidation, pitting, or are tarnished we have compiled an exhaustive guide to help you care for your chrome and get it looking shiny again.

Lots of rust. This could take a while.

What causes chrome surface rust?

To understand what causes surface rust in chrome you have to have an understanding of what chrome is, how it protects the metal underneath, and what causes it to fail. The most common form of chrome is decorative chrome and the technique used to make is nickel-chrome electroplating. Nickel Chrome electroplating works by being deposited in layers through an electrolysis process where the object is immersed in a solvent containing a dissolved metal (like nickel and chrome) and it’s applied via a strong electrical current.

Most car applications use a decorative plating process where a thin layer of nickel is applied first and then a layer of chrome is applied to give its signature shine. The final layer of chrome is only 5 to 8 micrometers thick, which is incredibly thin, the thickness of a human air spit 10 times. As the name implies decorative chrome is only for looks and is very delicate and car scratch or pit compare to hard chrome plating.

Now that we know how most decorative chrome is made, you can understand how fragile it is and how easily it can rust, pit, or corrode. Most manufacturers also apply a layer of clear coat to protect the surface of the chrome scratches and dents. If this layer of the clear coat becomes damaged from sun exposure, physical damage, or scratches it will leave the chrome exposed and could lead to pitting or pores to form.

If you look at the diagram below you can see that once small pits, pores, or blistering occurs the metal below begins to oxidize and you lose the protection from the chrome and the part might be beyond polishing and need to be re-plated. That is why it’s good practice to polish your chrome and keep it clean, polished, and protected from the elements.

SOURCE: Electroplating Installations – Pores, Spotting-out, Pits, Peeling & Blistering

Can surface rust be removed from chrome?

Depends. As you can see from the diagram above if the metal below the chrome is too rusted, cracked, or corroded you may be able to just clean and polish it out. Also, if the chrome is too thin, or scratched from repeated cleanings with harsh abrasive cleaners it might not be cleanable. When chrome begins to pit it cause the metal underneath to seep through like pores on your skin. That is why you see surface the orange rust or blue/green discoloration.

Is it surface rust or bust?

The first step is to determine if you have surface rust or if your chrome needs to be re-plated. If you have obvious damage like peeling, delamination, or cracking you will not be able to save the part and will need to have it re-plated which can be a costly project.

You can use the aluminum foil method to determine if your chrome is worth cleaning and polishing. This easy method involves household aluminum and a mixture of saltwater. Use a teaspoon of salt in a cup of warm water to dip the aluminum foil in and start rubbing the chrome to see if the rust starts to come off.

Keep on reading to learn about the 4 methods to remove surface rust from chrome and choose which method is easiest for you.

Is it chrome or chrome paint?

One last precaution to take before you begin attempting to polish or scrub your chrome is to make sure it’s not just chrome paint. Many manufacturers use cheap chrome paint to imitate the look of chrome without the expense. In an inconspicuous area rub #0000 steel wool or aluminum foil and see if the ‘chrome’ comes off. If it does, use WD-40 or PB Blaster and a clean rag to remove any surface rust.

Cleaning the chrome first.

4 Ways to Clean Chrome Easily


  • Safety glasses
  • Latex gloves
  • Steel wool
  • Scouring Pad
  • WD-40 or PB Blaster
  • Cola
  • Aluminum foil
  • Chrome polish
  • Microfiber Cloth
  • A bucket of water
  • Saltwater mixture – 1 teaspoon to 1 cup of warm water
  • Car wash soap
  • Clear Coat


Step 1. Clean – Using a microfiber cloth or rag, bucket of water, and car soap, clean the surface of the chrome to remove any scum, dirt, or stuck-on grime. Wipe the area clean and make sure it’s completely dry.

Step 2. Pick a method to remove the rust

  • Method #1 WD-40 or PB Blaster

Most home mechanics have a can of WD-40 or PB Blaster on hand. But, did you know that this versatile lubricant can also remove rust from chrome! WD-40 in Australia has a small guide on using the stuff.

WD-40 recommends you spray the area you would like to remove rust, leave for 10 minutes, and scrub with a scouring pad (avoid scratching the chrome with anything too abrasive). Once you have removed the surface rust, wipe clean with a rag or microfiber cloth.

This method is cheap, effective, and works on chrome paint if you aren’t sure if you have chrome or chrome paint.

  • Method #2 Aluminum foil and Salt Water

This method is very simple, effective, and uses commonly found items in your kitchen. Use a teaspoon of salt and warm water and dip the aluminum in the water and scrub the rust in a circular motion. The rust reacts with the aluminum and saltwater to quickly dissolve any surface rust.

  • Method #3 Chrome Metal Polish

Pick any of the many choices of Chrome or Metal polishes to clean surface rust with a microfiber cloth or a polishing wheel. The advantage of using a dedicated chrome metal polish is that most brands include a cleaner, rust protection, and a wax that seals the pores of the chrome to protect it from oxidations and moisture to prevent surface rust from returning.

  • Method #4 Cola

This method is somewhat of a novelty since it involves Coke (which has phosphoric acid which provides a mild acid to enhance cleaning) and aluminum foil. The aluminum foil is doing most of the work here and the Cola is just mild acid cleaner. I have found that saltwater is sufficient to clean and acts as an electrolyte to make cleaning easier. Plus, cola is sticky and isn’t worth the trouble. Also, you have to remember to neutralize the acid with some water unless you want the acid to stain your chrome. I would stick with the saltwater or make your own! Check our DIY Chrome Polish below.

Step 3. Polish. If you used the chrome metal polish you can skip this step. That’s the advantage of the all-in-one product. Quick, easy, effective, and provided all the protection you need to make sure rust doesn’t come back. To make your job even easier you may want to consider a polishing wheel attachment to cut down on the elbow grease you’re going to need. Of course, this all depends on the size of the amount of chrome you have to polish. I would highly recommend a chrome polishing kit if you have little tight spaces like on chrome rims.

Step 4. Re-Apply Clear Coat or Wax. Depending on the surface you are polishing you may want to consider applying a clear coat, traditional wax, or ceramic wax. The clear coat on chrome rims will provide the longest-lasting protection but you have to be careful when you spray you don’t get any runs or dirt in the clear coat. I would only recommend this method for the most experienced car enthusiast with painting experience. If you get it wrong you will have a mess on your hands.

The traditional waxes and ceramic coatings are easy to spray on and provide protection from UV, water, and dirt. Making cleaning your wheels much easier later.

Rust on a chrome dashboard. You’re going to need a lot elbow grease.

How to prevent surface rust from forming on chrome?

  • Clean Chrome Regularly – Keeping your chrome rims, engine bay, or bumpers clean free of dirt, debris, brake dust, and moisture will make your chrome last longer and keep it protected. You don’t have to go through the whole process of polishing and protecting if you did a decent job the first time. A simple bucket of car soap and water and a microfiber cloth is sufficient to keep your chrome clean.
  • Polish Chrome – When polishing chrome a good chrome polish or DIY solution should do most of the heavy lifting here. You shouldn’t need a lot of elbow grease to get a great shine from your chrome. But, if you are trying to get to small areas, awkward angles (like chrome rims), or have a large area to cover you may want to consider a chrome polishing kit. They are attachments you can put on a drill and makes polishing anything a breeze.
  • Apply Protection – To protect your hard work from being ruined by UV rays, oxidation, moisture, dirt, and grime don’t skip this last step. Applying a layer of wax, ceramic coating, or clear coat can make your chrome shine for months if properly stored.

Benefits of chrome polish

  • Restores shine – Chrome polish makes restoring your chromes very easy since it’s an ‘all-in-one’ solution in a can. Since most formulas include a cleaner, some sort of wax protection from UV and moisture, and a sealer to protect your shine from the elements. Chrome polishes are fairly cheap and easy to use.
  • Cleans – Chrome polishes biggest visible benefit is that they can quickly remove rust blooms, water spots, stains, and oxidation. Removing oxidation contaminants from causing further corrosion to the metal they are protecting underneath is the primary benefit of a good chrome polish.
  • Added Protection – Most chrome polishes will include a wax, sealer, or ceramic coating to seal any pinholes in your chrome. This creates a barrier on your chrome from UV light, moisture, and the elements from causing more damage to your chrome.
  • Reduces the need for touch-ups – If you have ever come across chrome that has been neglected you know that it requires a significant amount of work to get clean. But, if you maintain the chrome with a decent chrome polish it cuts down on the need to do any touch-ups and makes the shine last for months.
Lots of shiny chrome.

Types of chrome polish

  • Paste – Paste is by far the most ‘old school’ solution. Products like Flitz have been around for 40 years are headquartered in Waterford, Michigan, and have been providing car guys with a concentrated product that is non-abrasive and works well on heavily oxidized chrome to thoroughly clean and protect. It requires more work to spread on but gives you a deep shine that will last.
  • Cream – Cream chrome polishes are a great middle-ground between the heavy-duty cleaning abilities of the past but are much easier to work with and apply, spread, and polish with using a polishing cone or wheel. Products like Quick-Glo have been making a classic American product in Baton Rouge, LA since 1954. Quick-Glo comes in three formulas Original, Fine, and P3 Ultra. Check out our product review to get more details on each one.
  • Liquid Spray – This form of chrome polish is the easiest to apply evenly over large areas and on chrome rims. These product types are generally best for maintaining a chrome shine once you’ve achieved a deep mirror-like shine using a cream or paste. Make no mistake though liquid sprays have been around for a long time and have a proven track record of giving you a fantastic shine. You may be surprised to know that manufacturers like Meguiar’s have been around for 110 years making cleaning products before the invention of the car. They actually got started making cleaning products for horse and buggy carriages. Meguiar’s Hot Chrome Wheel cleaner easily removes brake dust, grime, and dirt from your chrome wheels. It’s convenient to use and gives you a “mirror-like” shine.

Things to consider when choosing a chrome polish

  • Abrasiveness – Some manufacturers have different levels of abrasiveness like Quick-Glo. They have an original formula, fine, and P3 Ultra, which gives you options depending on how tough your job is and allows you to pick a paste the works best for you.
  • Type of Job – Cleaning bumpers are easy and all you need is a chrome polish and microfiber towel. But, if you are trying to tackle chrome rims you may want to consider a cone buffer or wheel to get into all the crevices and awkward angles.
  • Amount of surface rust – If there is a significant amount of surface rust a paste chrome polish like Flitz is more effective because it is a concentrated formula that can go deeper into the chrome and remove any oxidations that have formed deep on the metal.
  • Level of protection needed – All chrome polishes will provide some form of protection and some include sealants for added protection. Initially, when treating chrome that has surface rust you want to start with a cream or paste to remove any oxidation. But to maintain that shine, spray polishes give you quick shine without having to spend hours polishing.

What is the best way to polish chrome?

If your chrome has water spots and needs to be touched up, follow along with the detailing experts at Chemical Guys for a quick lesson on how to properly care for your car’s chrome.



Step 1. Wash your car. Use a product like Chemical guys Mr. Pink car wash soap to get your car nice and clean before you begin. Removing any large dirt debris from your chrome rims and bumpers will make polishing easier and less likely to cause unwanted scratches.

Step 2. Take precautions. Tape off around the area you plan to polish. If the area of chrome you’re planning on polishing is next to plastic, paint, or trim you should consider taping the area off to avoid any discoloration or removing any waxes or seals.

Step 3. Apply a small amount of chrome metal polish on your microfiber applicator pad and gently work the product back and forth.

Step 4. Sealant. Apply a sealant and wax all in one step. The brilliant Chemical Guys have formulated HydroSlick, a hyperwax product that gives you the protection of a ceramic coating and high-gloss wax all in one bottle. It’s hydrophobic (so it repels water) and gives you the long-lasting shine of a ceramic coating.

Chemical Guys Hydroslick

What is the best chrome polishing kit?

Here are the right tools you need to get any chrome polishing job done quickly, efficiently, and looking its best.

Best Chrome Rim Polishing Ball

Mother’s PowerCone 360°

This is a precision polisher that gives you 360° of polishing power to clean in small, hard-to-reach areas like chrome rims. It has a quick connector that makes it really easy to connect and disconnect.

Best Chrome Power Ball

Mothers PowerBall 2

Another great product from Mother’s that lets you clean large areas all at once and clean deep dish rims without having to break a sweat. It also includes a quick connector to make it easy to attach to any drill.

Best Orbital Polisher

Chemical Guys TORQX Random Polisher Kit

We love this orbital polisher from Torqx. They have partnered up with Chemical Guys to bring you a great starter polisher kit that won’t break the bank. They include the 700w polisher (with adjustable speeds), 3 buffing pads, and Chemical Guys V-line 4 stage buffing compounds. This is a complete beginner kit that will help you get the best shine out of your paint and chrome.

Best Buffing Wheel for Drills

Benavvy 11pcs Buffing Wheel

These 11 piece buffing wheels are made from 100% premium cotton and come in a variety of sizes to take on any job. They will fit any drill that accepts a 6mm end and is great for small places. Remember that these are meant to buff and polish while dry. They are not meant to apply chrome polish. Use Mother’s polishing cone or ball to apply polish to chrome and buff with the buffing wheels.

How to use an orbital polisher?

Buffing and polishing is not hard but if you’ve never had any experience you can quickly ruin the paint and chrome of your vehicle if you aren’t careful. Here are some tips to bring the shine of your ride without destroying the finish.

Step 1. Make sure you start with a clean surface.

Step 2. Choose a cutting pad that if you heavy oxidation or a polishing pad if you are just trying to bring out the shine.

Step 3. Start with a clean pad and apply dime size dots of chrome polish directly to your orbital pad.

Step 4. Dab the orbital polisher on the surface that you intend to polish to apply the product in an even amount.

Step 5. Next, apply even pressure with both hands and move the DA in a circular motion and continue to buff to the desired level of shine.

Step 6. Remove the residue or grime with a clean microfiber cloth and a waterless car cleaner.

Step 7. Seal and protect your work with a ceramic coating or spray wax.

How to clean a buffing wheel?

If you are using 100% cotton buffing wheels you can put them in a pillowcase and wash them in your washing machine. Any buffing pads that have had polish on them should not be reused after heavy use. Reusing them can lead to more scratches and be less effective.

How much does chrome polish cost?

Take a look at our chrome polish comparison guide to get the best price on chrome polish.

ProductAmazonWalmart Home DepotAdvanced Autoparts
Chemical Guys Metal$17.99

Buy Now

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Meguiar’s Hot Chrome$6.58

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DIY – Make your own chrome polish

We found this video on Youtube from Ichiban Moto and found it to be very concise and helpful if you want to make your chrome polish at home with commonly found items. Ichiban does a side-by-side comparison and it shows that it really works without much effort. If you have a DIY itch to make your own chrome polish this formula is a good place to start.


  • Aluminum powder
  • Diamond sandpaper
  • Mason Jar or small bowl
  • 5 tbsps. of Distilled Vinegar
  • ½ tsp of Table Salt
  • 2 tbsps. of flour
  • Cloth towel
  • Microfiber towel


Step 1. Make the powdered aluminum by sanding any block of aluminum on a sheet of diamond sandpaper.

Step 2. Place the powder in a mason jar or small bowl

Step 3. Add your distilled vinegar, table salt, and flour to your bowl

Step 4. Mix together. Apply more or less flour to thicken to your preferred consistency

Step 5. Use the compound as you would any other chrome polish and apply with a polishing wheel

Step 6. Wipe any residue with a cloth towel

Step 7. Polish with a microfiber cloth

BMW M3. The chrome rims are looking great.

Best Chrome Polish Product Review

Best Pro Polish – Chemical Guys Metal Polishes

We love all the products from Chemical Guys! They always have the best quality products with ingredients that actually work. Chemical Guys have two products to meet any of your chrome polishing needs. The light metal polish and heavy metal polish both include Natural Diatomaceous Earth as an abrasive, Aluminum Oxide as a polishing agent, and Isoakanes is a petroleum product that protects and repels moisture.

The light metal polish is great for quick touch-ups that have water staining or have lost their luster. The heavy metal polish is for tougher jobs with surface rust or staining that requires an orbital polisher.

Chemical Guys Light Metal Polish

Chemical Heavy Metal Polish


  • Come in two formulas for light or heavy jobs
  • Includes natural ingredients that polish
  • Natural Diatomaceous Earth
  • Aluminum Oxide


  • None we could find

Best Cream Chrome Polish – Quick-Glo

Quick-Glo is an American making an excellent product line to meet any chrome polishing need. They have 3 formulas the original Quick-Glo, Fine, and P3 Ultra.

The original formula uses a combination of silica and pumice to clean surface rust. Since this is the most abrasive of the three, much care needs to be taken as an excessive amount of pressure may leave surface scratches. But, if you have lots of surface rust this series of three pastes are super concentrated and can tackle any job from beginning to end.

The original Quick-Glo cream is great for cutting through any oxidation, the second is great clean and polish, while the third is so fine it brings out the shine and buffs any imperfections.


  • Concentrated formula
  • Comes in Original, Fine, and P3 Ultra
  • Can polish heavily rusted or stained parts


  • Paste requires more effort to apply

Best Heavy-Duty Paste- Flitz

Flitz has been around for 40 years and is headquartered in Waterford, Michigan. This family-owned business makes a concentrated paste that is non-abrasive and works well on any heavily oxidized metal. Flitz recommends that for rust and corrosion removal to use #0000 steel wool, use a small amount, and DO NOT let dry.

Flitz paste is very effective for tough jobs and a small amount goes a long way. Flitz uses a high concentration of 30% Aluminum Oxide and Oleic Acid for long-lasting protection formula that works better than most commercial products with only 5% Aluminum Oxide.


  • Concentrated Paste
  • Only a small amount is needed for a great polish
  • Great Value
  • Safe on all metals
  • Protects up to 6 months


  • Not for quick touch-ups

Best Chrome Wheel Cleaner – Meguiar’s Hot Rims Cleaner

Meguiar’s is another American company making car products since 1901 making polishes for horse and carriages. Meguiar’s Hot Rims Chrome Wheel Cleaner is a favorite of ours since the quick spray is formulated with mild acids (cleaners), and surfactants (to repel water and dirt) to remove brake dust and road grime to keep your rims looking great.


  • Great for touch-ups
  • The spray makes it easy to apply
  • Cleans brake dust easily


  • Not a polish
  • Does not remove oxidation

Honorable Mention- Simichrome All Metal Polish Tube

Simichrome is a German company that’s been around since the 1960s making a chrome metal paste to polish parts they were manufacturing for Mercedes, BMW, and VW. Its non-abrasive formula is safe on all metals and uses aluminum oxide, mineral spirits, and fatty acids to clean and protect.

We found the product to be very effective and small amounts of the product were necessary to get a very nice shine.


  • Non-abrasive
  • Safe on all metals
  • Only a small amount is needed


  • Not as effective as Flitz for tougher jobs

Honorable Mention – 3M Chrome And Metal Polish

3M makes chrome polish that can be used on any metal surface to clean, remove staining, and protect from pitting. This is a cream polish and only requires a microfiber towel to apply and a clean towel to remove any residue.

Some buyers have mentioned that the product is ‘used’ or half full. This is normal as the product tends to settle.

3M’s chrome and metal polish use aluminum oxide, petroleum distillates (oil) to shine and protect from the elements. Since this product does not contain any abrasives it is only suitable for polishing chrome that is relatively clean and just needs a good polish. The product works great for chrome that is not heavily stained or has large amounts of surface rust. Works best to bring out the shine and protect.


  • Made by 3M
  • Works on all metals
  • Protects and shines
  • Non-abrasive formula
  • Gently on chrome


  • Not suitable for heavy-duty jobs with surface rust

Honorable Mention – Mother’s Mag & Aluminum Polish

Mothers Mag & Aluminum Polish is a cream-based chrome polish with 25% petroleum distillates (oils), Alumina (Aluminum Oxide), Tall oil fatty acids (oil), Triethanolamine (detergent), and polymers to protect. It is safe to use on all metals since it does not contain any abrasives. The aluminum, oils, and cleaners do a great job of protecting chrome and are best for bringing out the shine. I would look to other products for any tough jobs.


  • Cream-based chrome polish
  • Non-abrasive formula
  • Use aluminum oxide to clean
  • Brings out the shine
  • Mostly for polishing


  • Not effective on heavy-duty jobs with surface rust

Honorable Mention – Turtle Wax Chrome Polish

Turtle Wax’s Chrome polish is made up of mostly petroleum distillates (oil), and Mineral Spirits (solvent). I’m not sure you can call it a chrome polish. It does not have aluminum oxide to clean, or any silica abrasives to scrub impurities. It does have oils and solvents that would clean any chrome very superficially and is suited for quick touch-ups.


  • Good for touch-ups


  • Not for heavy-duty jobs
  • No abrasives – to scrub impurities
  • No aluminum oxide – to clean


We hope we’ve answered any and all questions related to chrome polish. If you are trying to maintain the shine on your chrome then Chemical Guys make a great set of products including an orbital polisher that allows you to increase your scrubbing power.

If you have a really tough job that has lots of pitting, surface rust, and staining we recommend Quick-Glo. They offer a great 3 part lineup that can help you go from tired and faded to beautiful shine in no time.

We are all things cars.

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