Answered: How To Remove Scratches From Plastic Easily

Do you know how to remove sticker residue? How about lily pollen out of clothes? And what about scratches from your phone? Removing “something” from “something” is an art! Plastics play an essential role in our households. They are durable, solid, affordable, and lightweight. Unfortunately, these valuable items seem to work hand-in-hand with scratches. As you use your plastic over time, the scratches on it give it a dull and unattractive look.

Scratches in a car

Also, some plastic items react negatively to high temperatures and bad weather, making them develop some whitish blooms on their body, which eventually leads to scratches. Luckily, in this article, you’ll discover quick hacks that can help you make your plastics look dazzling and shiny once again. 

How often should you remove scratches from plastic?

The best strategy you can use to maintain your plastics is to constantly remove any potential scratches as soon as you notice them. They are more accessible and faster this way. But once the scratches accumulate over time, the task becomes more difficult or impossible.

Ensure you practice regular cleaning to help prevent this from happening. For example, clean your plastic at least twice a month with a cotton cloth. Also, you can keep small plastics in a dry box when they are not in use.

White plastic cutting board with scratches

What You’ll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Cotton cloth
  • Medium bowl
  • Cellulose sponge
  • Microfiber cloth or soft cloth

 Materials

  • Dish soap 
  • Rubbing compound (Isopropyl)
  • Baking soda
  • Non-gel toothpaste
  • Distilled white vinegar
  • Metal or plastic polishing compound
  • Cotton balls
  • 360, 500, 600, 800 micro-grit sandpapers

Before you begin

1. Check the extent of the scratches

Before you begin working on the scratches, you should check the extent of the damage. That will determine the abrasiveness of the cleaning agent to use. 

You can check the depth of a scratch by running your fingernail over the plastic. If your nail doesn’t hook on the scratch, it simply means it’s shallow enough to be successfully removed with light abrasive cleaning agents, such as baking soda and toothpaste.

But if your nail hooks, it means the plastic has gotten a deep mark that will require intense cleaning with products like wet sandpaper and super-fine grit.

When testing the abrasiveness of any cleaning agent, do that on a remote part of the plastic item. If you notice it’s causing any damage, stop the process immediately. Then continue with mild abrasive cleaning agents to not create additional scratches.

2. Remove the top layer

Whether you are looking to remove a shallow or deep scratch, before you begin the process, it’s essential to, first of all, remove any layer that may cause more blemishes

Use a soft cloth or damp cloth to wash the plastic in a solution of water and dish soap.  If you can’t submerge the plastic into the water, wipe down the area that’s scratched with a cotton ball or a clean cloth dipped in a rubbing compound to remove the surface grime.

If the plastic looks cloudy, mix distilled white vinegar in warm, soapy water to help restore the original look.

How to remove shallow scratches from plastic

After checking that the scratch is shallow, you need to either get a non-gel toothpaste or baking soda

Natural toothpaste,bakind sodaand ingredients

1. Remove Shallow Scratches With Toothpaste

A mild abrasive like toothpaste can remove slight scratches from plastics. This plastic scratch remover contains silica. A non-gel toothpaste formula is suitable for this process.  

Squeeze out enough to cover the area. Then use a dry cloth to work in small circles removing the scratches. Frequently rinse the area with warm water and check the result. Repeat the process until the scuff marks are no more.

2. Remove Light Scratches With a Baking Soda Paste

This product is also a gentle mineral cleaning agent suitable for removing light scratches from plastics. Create a thick paste with the soda and some water. Dip a cloth in the paste and apply it to the scratched area

Remove the fine scratches by cleaning in a circular motion. Rinse the area often to track your progress. Repeat until you get a clear plastic or your desired result. Rinse the plastic one last time and dry with a microfiber cloth.

How to remove deeper scratches from plastic 

Deep marks have often accumulated over a long period; thus, you will need a more aggressive option to remove the blemishes.

Set of grit sandpaper on wooden background view

1. Use Wet Micro-Grit Sandpaper For Deeper Scratches

Regular grit sandpaper is too aggressive for plastics, so the best option is a micro-grit one. However, even when using one, ensure you don’t use dry sandpaper. Instead, get it wet, so it becomes softer and does not create new scratches on the plastic. 

Soak the 360 micro-grit paper in a bowl of water for a couple of minutes until the grit paper is well-saturated. Then, apply gentle pressure and rub the scratched area in a circular motion. Once you have covered the surface, rinse it with warm water and check the extent of your work.

If there are still traces of scratch, move to the higher grit paper, maybe 800 grit sandpaper and ensure it is very wet. Then, repeat the same process. 

Rinse the plastic after every phase of using the sandpaper and keep moving to the next finer sandpaper until the scratch is gone. Once you have achieved a clean and smooth surface, rinse the plastic one last time and dry with a microfiber cloth.

2. Use a  Heat Gun for Deep Scratches

Besides micro-grit sandpaper, a heat gun is another material you can use to remove the deep mark on your items, especially lawnmowers or patio sets. It works by smoothening and brightening the dull or cloudy look on your plastic material.

The logic behind using a heat gun is to heat the plastic, but not to the point of melting or smoking. Put your heat gun to its lowest setting, and move across the entire surface evenly. Ensure you don’t stay on one spot for long. Before you know it, you will achieve a smoother and more polished surface.

3. Shine With Polishing Compound

After the surface has been evenly cleaned and the scratches have disappeared, you may notice that the plastic has lost its gloss and brightness, especially around the affected area. This sign is typical, considering the amount of buffing expended on it.

A man ompounding a car

Even though we call anything made of polymers plastic, they are all produced differently. Modern plastic surfaces, for instance, come with different types of polish, made with an anti-glare coat on top, making them more transparent, softer, and even more prone to scratches. 

The skin gives off a purple tint, and if you use the regular store-bought polish, it could remove the shining plastic cover, making it less reflective. To reduce the development of new scratches, use the right products and techniques to polish the plastic. 

Refrain from using harsh chemicals. Instead, apply a detailing spray or an anti-static cleaning product designed for cleaning computer monitors.

To bring back the sheen, apply enough plastic or metal polishing compound on a clean, dry cloth to cover the dull spot. Rub evenly in circular motions across the plastic surface. You may need to repeat the polishing a few times to achieve the desired result. Eventually, the plastic will show its glowy radiance, giving a new look.

General ways to remove stains from plastic

If your plastic is looking dull as a result of stains, try the following tips:

Baking soda,soap,vinegar and lemon on wooden table

1. Vinegar

Vinegar is often used in cooking but can act as a cleaning agent when cleaning plastic. To use, mix a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar per one cup of water and soak your plastic items for two hours until the stain has lifted. If you can’t submerge the item in water, gently spray the solution on the stained part directly and give it time to soak. Then, wipe down with gentle pressure.

2. Rubbing alcohol

You may also use a hand sanitiser if you can’t find rubbing alcohol. First, apply enough to cover the blemish and rub it in. Then, wash the area with warm water and add additional liquid soap to remove the stain entirely.

3. Lemons

Cut a whole lemon into halves and rub the stain with one of them. Let it dry by the window or leave it in the sun if possible. The solution is effective in removing discolouration and sanitising your items.

Preventive Measures

Even though removing scratches from your plastics is achievable,  it’s even better to know how to prevent them from forming in the first place.

1. Cover them

This strategy will keep them in good condition for many years without a scratch. To avoid discolouration or wear and tear on your plastic, keep them away from harsh weather or any object capable of damaging it. 

2. Clean plastic regularly

A build of dust and debris can lead to deep scratches which take extreme measures and more time to remove. Please do not use a hard sponge or soap with strong chemicals that can cause scratches rather than prevent them.

Generally, plastic has vast importance in most households. They come in handy as furniture, for storing items, for serving dishes. Having scratches on a plastic often spoils its beauty. With the tips in this article, you can now remove these scratches with simple measures that involve only a few items from your home.

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