Easy way to remove swirls from car paint

To completely remove swirls from your car’s paint you need to call in the professionals, but good results can also be achieved by the DIY enthusiast.

The most common cause of swirls are incorrect washing methods. Over time micro-scratches in a car’s clear coat becomes visible under direct sunlight, looking like spider webs. This is known as paint swirls.

Swirls in car paint

There are two methods of removing swirls from a car’s paint:

1. Machine Paint Correction

This is the best and most permanent way of fixing your car’s paint. Just like removing imperfections from wood with sanding paper, a car detailer will remove a very thin layer of clear coat (only a few microns) from your car’s paint with special machines and polishes. This is a very delicate process and should be done by a professional. The result is a finish which, in most cases, look better that what you received from the showroom floor.

2. Paint fillers

This is the method of choice for those that cannot afford the services of a professional detailer. Like wood filler, a special polish will fill the fine scratches in your car’s paint, hiding it from view. This is only a temporary solution and swirls will become more visible after every wash. This solution requires regular maintenance, but results can be prolonged by following the correct method.

In this article I will discuss the use of paint fillers to correct your car’s paint, using a method that will make your hard work last longer.

What do I need?

1. Paint cleansing shampoo OR dish washing liquid
2. Detailing Clay
3. Polish applicator sponge
4. Paint filler polish
5. Car Wax
6. Spray bottle filled with water (preferably distilled, to prevent spots)
7. Microfibre cloths

My preferred products:

1. Chemical Guys – Citrus Wash and Gloss
2. Clay Magic – Fine
3. Meguiars – Polish Applicator Sponge
4. AutoGlym – Super Resin Polish
5. Collinite – No.845 Insulator Wax

If you live in South Africa, all these products can be purchased from

swirls remove products

Step 1 – Wash your car

Using the two bucket method, thoroughly wash your car. Instead of using normal car shampoo, use a mild solution of dish washing liquid or, preferably, a citrus based car shampoo. This will remove any greasiness and/or previously applied waxes from your paint. You do not need to dry your car.

Step 2 – Clay your car

Detailing clay is specially formulated for use on cars. Mostly used by professional body shops, this miraculous product will leave you amazed. From stains to spray paint, detailing clay can be used to remove almost anything from your car’s paint.

Dirt and grime gets embedded in your car’s paint. Although your paint will look clean after a good wash, you will be surprised at how much dirt is still present and not visible to the naked eye. To completely fill the swirls in the paint, we want to make sure there are no dirt present that could cause bad results.

Using the spray bottle, spray a small area with water. This will act as a lubricant for the clay. You can also add a small amount of car shampoo to the water to make the clay glide easier. Using light pressure, rub the clay over your car’s paint. Do this until you feel the paint get smooth. Doing a small area at a time, proceed until you have done the whole car. Should you notice the clay getting dirty, simply fold it in half a few times before continuing.

VERY IMPORTANT: If you drop the clay, do not attempt to clean it. Even if it looks clean, throw it away immediately. The smallest sand particle will cause serious damage to your paint. Most clay bars are big enough to do a few cars, so break it into pieces, making sure you have spares if necessary.

Step 3 – Wash your car

Again, wash your car to remove any lubricant or clay residue. Dry your car completely.

Step 4 – Apply the filler polish

Using your polish applicator sponge, apply a small amount of filler polish to your car’s paint. Work with small, circular motions making sure the polish is worked into the paint thoroughly. Do small sections at a time until complete.

Once dry, wipe any residual product away with your microfibre towel and buff to a shine. Inspect your results and apply a second coat if necessary.

The easiest way of knowing when to remove the excess polish is by doing the “swipe test”. Using your finger, swipe over a polished area. If the polish is dry, it will leave a smooth, shiny line.

Remember, any product you have to wipe off is wasted. Always apply polishes and waxes in thin, even coats. This also makes it a lot easier to remove once dry. Contrary to popular belief, applying thicker coats will not improve your results.

Step 5 – Apply wax (optional)

To prolong the life of your filler, cover it with a layer of car wax. Using the same technique as in Step 4, apply and buff to a shine.

You are done!

If the correct washing methods are used, you can look forward to repeating the process in 4-5 months time. When washing your car, make sure you use a shampoo that will not remove the wax layer.

Stand back and admire your hard work!!