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What is rubbing polish

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Rubbing polish is the act of using ones hand or skin to apply the polish to the surface by hand, and creating a moving effect in order to get a polishing effect on the surface underneath. The method can be compared to applying wax by hand.

Why rubbing polish by hand

Polishing is usually done by machine or by moving a polishing pad with your arm. Like most other products used while detailing, it is most common to use a tool to apply the product. In many cases, this is a sponge type tool. However, just like you can apply wax by hand, it is possible to apply polish by hand. The hand itself is used as a type of polishing pad. Some have even experimented using there forearms because of the larger surface it gives you. The act of polishing by hand is not very common, and it is not generally accepted or approved. Although some claim to have achieved impressive results.

Different methods of rubbing polish

In general, there are 2 method for rubbing polish by hand. The main difference between these methods is the motion. Both method can be done by using your hands, or your forearms.

Method 1

  • Make sure the surface is washed, clayed and properly decontaminated
  • Apply polish to one hand, the amount of polish differs to the level of imperfections and your own preference
  • If you prefer, you can put your hands together to spread the polish to both hands
  • Spread the polish over the surface, but don’t use any pressure
  • While applying a moderate amount of pressure, make circular motions with both hands. The size of these circles depend on your own preference
  • It is advised to start out slow (spread the polish particles) and speed up from there, end in fast and small circles (to break down the polish)
  • Once the polish starts to dry up, you can add a mist of water to lubricate again. Don’t let it dry up completely
  • Once done, treat it like any other polish residue
  • The grade of polish still depend on the level of imperfections you are trying to correct

Method 2

  • Make sure the surface is washed, clayed and properly decontaminated
  • Apply polish to one hand, grab a clean MF buffing towel in the other hand
  • Apply the polish to the panel and spread it evenly without pressure
  • Work in big squares of roughly 50cm by 50cm
  • Spread the square into 4 smaller squares
  • Start at the edge opposite the hand you are polishing with (if your left hand is covered in polish, start at the right side of the square you are working on)
  • With the hand covered in polish, you make small and fast circular motions over 1 part of the 4 parts of the area you are working on. After a few quick swipes you lightly wipe off the area with the MF towel. Then you make circular motions over that same area again. After a few swipes you wipe it off with the MF towel (no pressure). You keep doing this till the polish is almost gone and you can only feel an oily smoothness on the surface
  • Once you’re done with the above, step over the the next part of the area you are working on
  • Repeat these steps till you’re done
  • Finish the surface like you would with any other polishing method

Downside of rubbing polish by hand

Although the method isn’t common, there are those who claim to have achieved very good results with it and swear by this technique. Other ridicule the idea of using ones hands to spread the polish by hand.
In general, the most common heard comments on this technique are:

  • There is no difference in grade between skin. So you can’t “finish” with a finishing polish pad while polishing by hand
  • The skin might not very smooth, creating imperfections
  • The skin is not very good at spreading liquid evenly, something an open-cell foam pad is much better at
  • The slow motion doesn’t break down the particles enough (which would also apply to polishing by hand)
  • The mechanical motion will tire you out, making it less easy to polish a whole car in 1 day
  • Keeping the pressure even is very difficult, which could result in an uneven finished surface
  • Rubbing polish is meant to remove imperfection, not fill them with too little abrasive effect

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