How to Remove Scratches From Plastic Bumpers

by Contributing WriterUpdated August 16, 2023
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Photo by the author.

Items you will need

  • Dish soap and clean rag

  • Paper towels

  • Buffing compound

  • Clear coat

  • Buffing pad and drill

  • Car wax

  • Paint touch-up pen (matching your vehicle)

  • Fine-tipped artist's paint brush

Removing scratches from plastic bumpers can be very expensive if you take it into an auto repair shop. There is a way, however, to remove these bumper scratches without taking the car into a bodyshop or buying an expensive repair kit. Follow this step-by-step guide for quick and painless car bumper repair.

Clean the area around the scratch with dish soap to remove any dirt, car paint scuffs or surface wax. You may have to use a microfiber cloth wrapped around a finger to get into the scratch. Rinse the soap off completely. Blot the surface dry with paper towels before continuing. You can also use an automotive scratch remover or toothpaste on any affected areas if you wish, but they may not work on deep scratches.


Dish soap can damage your finish or the paint (if it is in poor condition). Make sure that the paint is applied in a properly ventilated location. Wear goggles. Read and follow all instructions that come with the tools, compound(s), and liquids that you use.

Examine the scratched area of your auto body. If you run the tip of your fingernail across the scratch and your fingernail catches in the groove as you scrape it across, the scratch is deep. If your fingernail does not catch, it’s a light scratch.

Fix minor scratches by simply buffing it out with a buffing compound. Attach the buffer pad to the end of your drill at the post that comes on the buffer pad. Apply the buffing compound to the buffer pad and then evenly buff out the scratch. Paint on some clear coat if there is a white line around the scratch. Once the clear coat dries, buff and wax the car as usual.

Fix deeper scratches on plastic trim by applying a thin basecoat of paint from a touch-up pen to the scratch. If using the paintbrush applicator instead of the pen, buy a fine paint brush to guide the paint. Press the pen inwards on a location other than the car so that the paint starts to come out. Make sure to purchase the correct paint color by looking for the color code on your vehicle and matching the code to the proper paint pen.


For best results, keep the paint out of the sun until it cures. Work on the car in a location that is protected from dirt and dust.

You can also use a 3000 grit sandpaper to sand off a deeper scratch. Simply sand the area until the scratch disappears and the area around it looks hazy. Feather out the area with a higher grit paper, then paint over the scratch liberally with a clear topcoat.

Make sure that the scratch is completely covered by the paint. Use rubbing compound to smooth the paint job after it dries. Add a layer of clear coat and buff it after it dries. Use a polishing compound to buff and wax as usual.


Consider using a bumper cover for future incidents.

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