How to Clean a Car License Plate

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Things You'll Need

  • WD-40

  • Towels

  • Q-Tips

If you are a license plate collector or just like to keep your car looking its best, you will need to occasionally clean your license plates. You have to be very careful not to use any products that are too abrasive as they may remove the paint from your license plate. A gentle waxing post cleaning will keep your plate looking good as new.


Step 1

Remove any obvious rust from the license plate. Spray WD-40 onto the rusty spots and then wipe dry with a clean cloth. Repeat if needed.

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Step 2

Fill a sink up with warm water and dish-washing soap such as Palmolive or Dawn. Place the license plate in the water and allow it to soak for five minutes to loosen any surface dirt.

Step 3

Remove the plate from water and lightly rub with a clean towel in a circular motion to remove dirt. Rinse.


Step 4

Moisten the Q-tip and use it to gentle remove any dirt that may have accumulated around the letters and numbers on your license plate. You will want to use a clean Q-tip for each letter or number.

Step 5

Give the license plate a final rinse in warm water and dry it thoroughly.


Waxing the license plate after cleaning it will ensure that it stays clean longer. The license plate can be cleaned while still on your car. You will not be able to soak the plate, but using the soapy water on a cloth will do the trick.


Do not use abrasive cleaners on your license plate. Products like comet or bar Keepers friend will remove rust, but they will also remove the paint on your license plate.