How To Remove Scratches From Car Door Handles

Scratches in Car Door Handle

For some of us, the scratches around, beneath, and behind our car’s door handles are a major pet peeve. Not only to they detract from the cleanliness of your car, they’re just flat ugly. After months of jiggling keys, and opening doors they are to be expected, but most drivers will just live with it. I’m here to end that. This article will show you that removing these fine scratches from the paintwork around your car’s door handles is much easier than you think.

What causes door handle scratches?

You are causing your door handle’s scratches with rings, keys, and fingernails. It’s not the environment and it’s not the car wash, it just happens over time. Think about how many times you go to open the car door; your fingernails hit the paint, maybe a key or two smacks against the finish… if you were to do this with any other part of your car’s paintwork the exact same thing would happen. You’re basically beating up the surface, and, without the proper protection, you’re going to wind up with scratches. Luckily removing them is almost as easy as causing them.

How to remove scratches around car door handles:

Step 1: Wash & Clay

It doesn’t matter if you’re polishing a door handle or the entire car, you always want to be sure you’ve removed any contaminants from the surface before you begin the procedure. The first step in doing so is washing your car with a pH balanced car wash soap. Once you’ve washed and dried, clay the area that you’ll be polishing. You may want to take this opportunity to clay the entire car (read our Clay Bar Guide to see if you have to).

TIP: after doing the plastic baggie test you may find you don’t need to clay. In this case I recommend using a paint cleanser to decontaminate the surface.

Step 2: Polish

As a rule of thumb, never jump into polishing with the heaviest polish or compound you can find. Whether it’s simply your door handles or the rest of your finish, over polishing can lead to premature clear coat deterioration (which is also why we recommend using an orbital buffer or polishing by hand with a foam applicator). To polish the handles and the areas beneath, behind, and around them, pour a dollop of a smoothing hand polish on a foam applicator and apply. Use a circular motion to ensure complete coverage. Some areas may need more attention, so repeat if necessary. If not and the surface looks great, continue to step 3.

Note: If you neglect your paintwork and let this go on, it can get to the point where you will need a machine to clean around the handles. In this case we recommend an orbital buffer (like the Cyclo) and not a high-speed machine. You’ll still need to do some polishing by hand to get behind the handle and in tight spots.

Step 3: Apply Glaze

Glazes are used after polishing to fill in any last remaining imperfections. Polishes do a great job of rounding edges and making scratches less apparent to the human eye, but they cannot remove scratches that have dug deep into or even passed your clear coat (read why). It’s the glaze’s job to cover up these tiny blemishes and ultimately leave your surface looking crystal clear. Apply the glaze just as you would a polish and make sure the entire area is covered completely. The surface should now look great, but you’re not done yet.

Step 4: Protect Finish

Arguably the most important step in any detailing procedure, you always want to make sure you’ve sealed in your hard work and have given your paint adequate protection against the elements. This, of course, finishes off the process by making sure your polishes and glazes don’t wear away in the coming weeks (polishes and glazes do quite a bit of “filling” while they smooth out the surface, so it’s important you seal them in). And if you weren’t going to protect? Well you’d be wasting your time with the detail because the same things you’re correcting are natural occurences – they will happen again if you’re not proactive.


To remove those hideous scratches beneath and behind your car’s door handles all you have to do is polish them (by hand). If you follow the steps above you’ll be able to successfully remove light scratches caused by your fingernails, keys, and the like. The most important takeaway from this article, however, can be summed up in one word: protection. You must protect after any polishing procedure, and if you protect regularly, stuff like this won’t happen (and if it does it will be much, much easier to take care of). All you have to do is apply a quality paint sealant and you’ll notice your car looking great for longer periods of time, and you won’t be riddled with unsightly scratches around your car’s door handles.

Gave it a try? Let us know how it goes in the comments and on facebook!