How to Clean Plastic Chrome

Plastic chrome pieces add flair to a car.
Plastic chrome pieces add flair to a car. (Image: work of art headlight image by Jorge Moro from <a href=''></a>)

Plastic chrome is a vacuum-metallized chrome finish applied to many auto and motorcycle parts to create the appearance of real chrome. Plastic chrome can be detected by lightly tapping your fingernail against the chrome surface. Metal will have a ringing sound, while plastic will have a dull sound. You cannot clean plastic chrome with cleaning techniques used for real chrome as it will destroy the finish. Use an aerosol cleanser designed specifically for cleaning plastic surfaces and plastic chrome. These products usually contain a pore-filling wax to help protect the plastic chrome from dirt and debris.

Things You'll Need

  • Plastic chrome cleanser
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Soft rag

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Spray a plastic cleaner product directly on your plastic chrome surface.

Agitate the surface lightly with a soft-bristle brush to loosen material stuck to the plastic. Be careful not to scrub as this may leave scratch marks.

Wipe the plastic chrome clean with a soft rag. Try to wipe in one direction since swirling motions may leave marks on the surface. You don't have to buff with these products.

Tips & Warnings

  • Wash your car normally to keep dirt and debris to a minimum. Use only a soft mitt and gentle automotive-grade soap over all exposed plastic surfaces. Rinse well before applying your plastic chrome-specific cleaner.
  • Avoid scratching the plastic chrome with any type of rubbing.


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