Hand polish – manual car polish for a shiny automobile

To polish our vehicle we can use lacquer polish, which consists mainly of abrasives. This group of polishes also includes, for example, abrasive paste, which is used selectively to polish out scratches.

More common are hand polishes that contain not only abrasives but also substances for paint preservation (e.g. waxes and oils). Due to this composition, such polishes have simultaneously a polishing (sanding) and a preserving and shining effect.

Microfiber cloths for the demanding polisher: perfect for polishing off paint polishes that already contain paint preservative

The car varnish is polished with circular movements. Terry cloths (towels cut to the right size or washcloths that have already been through the washing machine several times) are ideal for polishing paintwork because they provide the ideal rough surface.

A decisive factor for the quality of hand polishing is the even pressure with which the polish is applied, otherwise – especially with dark paints – an unsatisfactory and spotty result is to be expected.

For information: structure of the car paint

Car polish without paint preservation

A polish of this type is used only for sanding the paintwork. But let’s keep in mind: sanding is in the range of 1/1000 of a millimeter – unless you are working with a large-grain sanding paste that quickly works its way to the paint primer.

With the hand polish – and ideally with a terry cloth – smaller scratches can be removed selectively and large areas of weathered paint can be removed. Here we go with circling movements under even pressure over the varnish surface.

To make car polishing easier, we use a terry cloth dampened with water – this spreads the polish more evenly and makes the polishing process less strenuous. And the best: This way of working saves polish.

If the car paint is slightly scratched/scuffed over large areas (for example, due to improperly maintained car washes), only an extremely sweaty polish can help to remove the paint over a large area: In this case, only the use of (professional) car polish without paint preservative can help!) polishing machines are recommended.

Any residues of polish remain on the vehicle. The residual polish is removed with the application of the paint sealant – this saves us a work step.

We now directly apply the paint preservative to protect the unprotected paint from weather and environmental influences.

Car polish with paint preservation

More common than polishes made purely from abrasives are combined products that contain substances for paint preservation – such as oils and waxes – in addition to the abrasives.

The procedure for polishing in is the same as for pure paint polishing.

A rough terry cloth (washcloth) is very suitable for polishing off – as it is for polishing in.a.).

A further increase in the quality of the work and the gloss can only be achieved with a microfiber cloth with a rough structure.

After polishing, all the small scratches and scratches have miraculously disappeared. The reason for this is usually the filling of the slight paint indentations – we are talking about thousandths of a millimeter here – with the paint preservatives and the gloss that results from this. Due to the light reflection, these paint damages are now no longer visible.

Scrape with paint preservative / wax o.a. filled and polished to a high gloss: scratch no longer visible due to reflection

That means: With a hand polish we are almost always subject to an optical illusion. With human power, we are hardly able to smooth the paint completely over a large area so that there are actually no more scratches (exception: original paintwork from classic cars).

This also applies to polishing with pure abrasive and subsequent paint preservation.

And so it’s no surprise that the damage to the paintwork only remains hidden until the shine has dissipated again due to weather and environmental influences – this process can be observed particularly drastically on dark paintwork.

Car polish – secret tip for even deep shine

Car hand polish with deep shine

Flawless deep shine thanks to skillful hand polishing

With many polishes, an annoying cloud formation occurs after polishing on dark paintwork – an uneven deep gloss. A nightmare for every ambitious car enthusiast, which quickly spoils the pleasure of a high-gloss automobile.

There is a simple and very effective trick to achieve a full and even deep shine: We apply water to the paint with a sponge and rub it dry again with a terrycloth towel.

And lo and behold: We have a cloud-free deep gloss!


Hand polishing is unreservedly recommended for as-new and/or less stressed paintwork. Hand polishing is also the perfect way to remove scratches in specific areas.

In the case of extensively damaged paint, the small scratches are often only concealed instead of actually polished out, so that the use of professional polishing equipment is recommended here.

Machine polish

If you have a polishing machine at your disposal and your car paint is heavily weathered or scratched, it is better to use machine polishing right away.

Paint sealing

If the vehicle was polished with a hand polish without a paint sealant, the car paint should be given a good paint sealant immediately afterwards.

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