How to Remove Scratches from Chrome-Plated Plastic

Chrome is a common sight on classic cars, motorcycles and vintage bicycles. Though chrome plating is usually applied to metal surfaces, it is sometimes used to coat plastic trim for decorative effect. Electroplated plastic adds the look of metal without adding its weight, making it desirable for car and motorcycle manufacturers. Once applied, chrome adds a mirror-like coating, which produces a brilliant luster under natural and artificial light. Because of the thinness of chrome plating, it is susceptible to scratching and gouging. Minor scratches can be polished away using a light abrasive.

Vintage Car Closeup
credit: AlexPapp/iStock/GettyImages
On modern cars, decorative trim pieces like this one are sometimes made of chrome-plated plastic to save weight.

Step 1

Vacuum the chrome with your vacuum's brush attachment. To avoid further scratching, the chrome should be free of any surface dirt, dust or other residue.

Step 2

Clean the chrome with a microfiber or cotton cloth, and a solution of warm water and several drops of mild dish soap. Wipe the chrome completely dry with a second microfiber cloth.

Step 3

Scoop up a dab of chrome polish with a synthetic steel wool pad. A little polish goes a long way. For best results, use pads rated extra fine (#0000).

Step 4

Spread the polish over the scratched area of the chrome with the steel wool pad. Rub the pad in a circular motion, using light pressure.

Step 5

Apply more polish to the area as needed, and continue buffing. Most scratches will buff out in 10 to 20 minutes. As you buff, apply more polish as needed every two to four minutes to keep the steel wool gliding easily over the chrome surface.

Step 6

Wipe the chrome clean using a dry microfiber cloth. While wiping, rub the cloth in a circular motion to increase the chrome's shine.