How To Get Water Spots Off Plastic Chrome Trim? (Detailed Answer)

A chrome finish, whether it’s on metal or plastic, should always look bright and shiny. Water spots can prevent this from happening.

And if not dealt with urgently, water spots can lead to oxidation, making the plastic chrome trim look dull. If you have seen some water spots on your plastic chrome trim and are wondering how to get rid of them.

Below, we will explore various methods of cleaning plastic chrome trim and highlight those that are safe and effective.

plastic chrome trim

What is the Best Method of Removing Water Spots from Plastic Chrome Trim?

If you have water spots on plastic chrome trim, the best products to use are cleaning polishes explicitly made for chromed plastics and a microfiber cloth.

There is a brand known as Autosol that makes a cleaning polish made for such a surface. This polish contains aluminum oxide with minimal abrasion that will be effective but gentle on the plastic chrome trim.

Autosol isn’t the only brand. There are many others. You have to do some research. Another example is Meguiar’s PlastX.

Even though you can use typical polishes for chromed metal, these are usually slightly harsh on plastic chrome. It’s why you have to find a polish that has minimal abrasive in the ingredients.

That will ensure the delicate chromed plastic isn’t damaged during the polishing. Microfiber cloth, on the other hand, is highly absorbent yet very gentle. This combination makes it the best cleaning product to use on plastic chrome trim.

Is Plastic Chrome Delicate?

As you may have guessed, there is more than one method of removing water spots from plastic chrome. The above is the safest and most effective. However, it’s not always when you will have access to chromed plastic polish.

There are times when you will have to improvise. But before you use a particular product on this surface, you must know how delicate plastic chrome is.

In most modern cars, you will come across a plastic chrome trim. It’s more common around the grills and body of the car. Chromed plastic is more lightweight and affordable than chromed metal.

No wonder many manufacturers are incorporating this trim into their cars. When it comes to chroming plastic, manufacturers often use a vacuum-metalized method.

This process is a bit inferior compared to the electrolytic method of chroming metal. That’s why plastic chrome trim is more delicate and less durable than the one on metal.

Because of plastic chrome’s delicacy, car owners must be mindful of the products they use to remove water spots on such a surface.

Even if you don’t have a polish made specifically for chrome plastic, it’s advisable to go for the least aggressive cleaner.

Please keep off cleaners that have many abrasives. These can scratch the chrome from the plastic. And since the chrome layer is fragile, it’s something that would occur pretty fast.

On the other hand, acidic and strong cleaners can etch the plastic chrome. And this may lead to irreversible damage. Even though water spots make your plastic chrome trim look bad, it’s not advisable to use a harsh cleaner that can damage the finish.

Fortunately, besides chromed plastic polish, there are plenty of other cleaners that are safe and will get rid of water spots from the surface.

What Products are Safe to Use in Removing Water Spots from Plastic Chrome Trim?

1. Ordinary Car Wash Shampoo

For non-stubborn water spots, you can quickly get rid of them using ordinary car wash shampoo. Most car wash shampoos are designed to remove stubborn stains while being gentle on paint and other surfaces such as plastic.

Therefore, if you come across some water spots on the chrome plastic trim, spray some shampoo and then use a little elbow grease to wipe the spots off. This is the product most car owners use to get rid of water spots.

2. A Mild Chrome Polish

For stubborn water spots, a mild chrome polish from any reputable brand such as Mothers should get the job done. However, when it comes to metal chrome polishes, this is a grey area.

We have already explained how plastic chrome trims are delicate. Therefore, using a polish made for metal may have adverse effects on the plastic chrome trim.

Before polishing a plastic chrome trim with a regular metal polish, go through the ingredients and check the abrasive content. If it’s high, don’t use such a product as it will scratch the plastic chrome trim.

3. Clay Bar

When everything else fails, a clay bar is always the solution. Water spots usually form on plastic chrome trim when the water evaporates, and the minerals are left behind.

If left for too long on chrome, these stains can prove to be pretty stubborn to remove. However, they will be no match for a clay bar. A clay bar will eliminate water spots and other impurities on your plastic chrome trim.

To restore the shine of the plastic chrome trim, you can apply some chromed plastic polish once you are done with the clay bar.

Why Is It Hard to Get Water Spots from Plastic Chrome Trim?

Chromed plastic is one of the most challenging surfaces to remove water stains from. There are several reasons why that’s the case. First, chrome plastic is pretty delicate.

If you had water stains on another area, you would spray the strongest solution you can find, which would immediately eliminate the spots.

However, when you spray harsh cleaners on chromed plastic, you damage it further. This makes it very hard for car owners to eliminate water spots from a plastic chrome trim.

The other reason it isn’t easy to get water spots from plastic chrome trim is that there are very few chromed plastic polishes in the market.

Most chrome polishes are designed for use on metal. Therefore, if you have plastic chrome trim, getting access to a polish made explicitly for plastic chrome trim can be a challenge.

Can Polishes Wear Out Chrome Plastic?

Yes, they can. If you look at most plastic chrome trims, such as grills, you will see scratches or even wear on some sections. That’s because the owners made the mistake of using ordinary polishes.

On chromed metal surfaces, polishes restore the shine of chrome. But on plastic, the effects are harsh. Polishes wear out the chrome on a plastic surface. And since the layers of chrome on plastic are usually thin, if you scratch too hard, you can reveal the plastic beneath.

When choosing a polish for plastic chrome trim, stick to those made specifically for plastic. This ensures you avoid the problems mentioned above.

Will Vinegar Damage Chromed Plastic?

Vinegar is one of the most effective ingredients that can remove water spots from plastic chrome trim. However, it’s not the safest.

A lot of car owners love using vinegar because it works immediately in removing stains. But you should know that vinegar is acidic. Even when mixed with water, it still has some acidic properties.

When you make a habit of cleaning chrome plastic trim with vinegar, this ingredient will eat up the finish gradually. After a year or two, the chrome finish will be dull, and that part would have to be re-chromed.

No matter how effective vinegar is at removing water spots, it would be best if you refrained from using it on the plastic chrome trim.

Can You Remove Water Spots on Plastic Chrome with Toothpaste?

If you ever run out of options for cleaning water spots on plastic chrome trim, you can always use toothpaste. For those who don’t know, toothpaste is a mild abrasive.

When you dab some on the plastic chrome trim and rub it with a microfiber cloth, it removes any spots. Some people recommend using toothpaste with vinegar to make it more effective.

But that’s not advisable because we have already explained the harmful effects of vinegar on the plastic chrome trim. Just use toothpaste and microfiber clothe.

Re-chroming Is Also an Option for Hard to Remove Water Spots

Most of these recommended methods will remove water spots on the plastic chrome trim. However, getting rid of water spots from plastic chrome trim can be almost impossible for a car that has been grounded for a while.

The longer the spots are left on the chrome, the more oxidation occurs around the stain. If it seems that the stains don’t want to come off, you can always re-chrome the plastic component.

If it’s the grill or trims on your windows, it can be taken apart and re-chromed for less than $50. This may be an additional expense. But it will ensure the chrome looks brand new. And you won’t have to waste time and money trying different products.

Should I Hire an Expert Detailer to Remove Water Spots from Chromed Plastic?

In most cases, cleaning water spots is a task that can be carried out in your garage with simple tools. However, if a car has been sitting for too long and the water spots are proving hard to remove, you can take it to an expert detailer.

This will also cost more than cleaning the spots yourself. But you are assured of a professional cleanse that will get rid of all stubborn hard water stains.