What Are Swirl Marks & How To Remove Them

Swirl marks are ultra fine scratches upon the surface of the clear coat that’s caused by improper washing and drying techniques. They’re an eyesore to any detailing enthusiasts but are easily removed with the correct products and technique.

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How To Remove Swirl Marks
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Although hard to see in low light conditions, any swirl marks upon your paint will become apparent as soon as the sun shines on it. It’s also bad news for owners of black or dark coloured cars because swirl marks are even more visible.

Whether you have just purchased a second hand car or have been washing your car incorrectly for years, removing swirl marks is relatively easy. However, it’s important that you understand how they are caused in the first place and how to prevent further swirl marks appearing on your paint once rectified.

What Causes Swirl Marks?

  • Using a dirty wash mitt
  • Putting your car through automated car washes
  • Wiping a dirty or dusty car with a drying towel
  • Using a highly abrasive polish incorrectly
  • Incorrect usage of a polishing machine
  • Covering the car with a dirty cover
  • Driving through bushes or tight lanes

How To Remove Swirl Marks

Whether you caused the swirl marks or the previous owner did, they can be easily removed using the correct detailing products. To begin with, you will want to get your hands upon a suitable abrasive car polish that’s able to remove a microscopic layer of the clear coat. It’s important that you choose a proper polish or compound and not a product that simply masks or fills in the swirl marks temporarily.

Although it’s possible to correct the paintwork by hand, the best method to remove swirl marks is to use a car polishing machine. It’s far more effective and it allows you to achieve results more easily with the correct technique. Regardless to the technique you would prefer to use, Meguiar’s have a great tutorial for removing swirl marks by hand or machine.

How To Prevent it in the Future

Once you have gone to the effort of removing swirl marks, you will want to maintain the perfect finish to the paintwork. Adopting proper car washing techniques and investing into the latest car cleaning products is highly recommended.

When it comes to washing your car, depending upon the severity of dirt, you can use snow foam as a pre-wash. This helps to remove any loose dirt prior to washing your car with a mitt.

We also highly recommend using the “Two Bucket Method” of washing your car. This involves one bucket of car wash shampoo and the other bucket full of hot water for rinsing your mitt.


Swirl marks can completely ruin the appearance of a car and it puts many people off buying black or dark coloured cars. Luckily, they are easily removed using the correct paint correction products and technique. However, it’s important that you adjust your car washing technique in order to reduce further swirls appearing once corrected.

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