How to Remove a Deep Car Scratch With Household Items

wiping a scratch on a car with a cloth
What You'll Need
Shoe polish
Cold water
2000-3000 grit sandpaper
Liquid dish detergent
Soft brush
Soft cloths
Terry cloth towel
Rubbing compound
Car wax
Polishing wheel
Rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover

You may go to great lengths to avoid scratches, but sooner or later, your car will bear the unavoidable marks. Scratches can spoil the appearance of your car, and they reduce the resale value of your vehicle if not properly removed.

Fortunately, you need not take your car to a body shop for scratch removal. Use the following household items to do the job. It’ll save you some bucks and improve the appearance of your car with just a bit of effort.

Step 1 - Wash the Panel

hand sponge washing a car

Wash the panel with soapy water. Choose a soap that is gentle, yet strong enough to cut through any grime you have picked up from your travels. Rinse and dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. It's best to repair the scratch after the panel has been well cleaned.

Before you begin repairing a scratch on your car's paint, you should be sure it is really a scratch, not simply a mark. Often what appears to be a scratch may, in fact, may be only a removable mark. Washing the area allows you to make that important distinction.

Plus, washing the area can tell you a lot about the damage that exists on the vehicle. If you see the original color of the car under the scratch, it means it’s merely surface damage, which is easily remedied. If you see a white surface, that means it’s a deeper issue that'll take some more TLC to fix.

Additionally, cleaning a surface completely will remove any small particles which could get dragged across while polishing, resulting in more damage.

Step 2 - Shoe Polish

Use a soft cloth to apply some polish over the scratch. This will allow you to sand down the paint around the scratch. Try not to exceed the scratch level—if you do, you’ll cause more damage to the panel.

Step 3 - Sand the Scratch

Add two drops of liquid dish detergent into a bowl of cold water. Mix the solution well. Dip 2000-3000 grit sandpaper into the bowl, then gently sand the affected area. The slippery solution will enhance the action of the sandpaper. Use short, light strokes to sand until all the polish disappears. You’ll have to re-dip the sandpaper in the soapy water as you work for efficiency. Be sure to work over the entire length of the scratch.

Step 4 - Clean

Brush all sand particles from the affected area with a soft brush. A clean surface is vital before you proceed to the next stage.

Step 5 - Buff

Use a washcloth to apply some rubbing compound on the scratched area. Work in a circular motion. As you buff, a haze will be produced. Use a terry cloth towel to lift the haze.

Step 6 - Wash

Clean the mended area with plain water and a soft cloth.

Step 7 - Polish

Work the area with a polishing wheel and compound. Once you notice that the area has a uniform appearance with the rest of the panel, you can stop polishing. Wipe the area with a soft cloth to prepare the surface for paint or wax.

gloved hands buffing a car with a machine

Step 8 - Paint

In some cases, you may need to paint over the scratch to completely fix the appearance of your car. This step will likely require an item you don’t have on hand at your house—touch-up paint, which can come in several forms, including markers and pens, which make it easy to precisely touch up a mark. Careful application of touch-up paint can make car surfaces look like new. If the paint you get does not come in a marker form, use a very fine brush instead, and make sure the area is completely cleaned first.

If you need to get paint, ensure that it’s the exact shade of your car’s original paint. Use your vehicle identification number to figure out what paint you should buy from the automotive store. Let your work dry overnight.

Step 9 - Shine

When you're done polishing and/or painting, use a soft cloth to apply car wax over the area. Rub the wax in a circular motion to create a shine. Car wax acts as a protective layer, helping to prevent further scratches. This final step will leave your car in good shape.


If you’re dealing with more of a raised mark than a scratch, you can still use household items to get rid of the issue. Use a damp cloth dipped in a bit of rubbing alcohol or adhesive remover, applying the cloth in a circular motion. Once the mark is gone, repeat the process with a fresh cloth that has been dampened with only water.