Can You Polish a Ceramic Coating? Everything You Should Know

Getting your car ceramic coated is a great way to protect it, but you need to make sure you maintain it properly to get the best out of it. Some car owners wonder if they can polish a vehicle once it has been ceramic coated, so in this article I’ll explain why this is a bad idea and what you should do instead.

The Quick Answer

A ceramic coated car cannot be polished unless the intention is to remove it. Polishes contain abrasives which will damage the ceramic coating. To fix minor scratches and swirl marks in the coating, use a non-abrasive solution such as CarPro Essence Plus to repair the coating.

Polishes Will Remove or Degrade the Coating

Car polishes contain abrasives which are designed to cut away a layer of paint. Polishing is done to refine the paint finish by removing light scratches and swirl marks in the clear coat (top layer of paint) and enhancing the gloss levels.

It’s important that we’re clear on this function of a polish before moving on. There is often confusion between the function of a wax and polish, however these products do not do the same thing. Waxes add a layer of protection, and polishes remove a layer of paint. So both are totally different!

Check out my comparison of waxes and polishes if you’re looking for some more information.

Due to it’s abrasive nature, a polish should not be used on a ceramic coating. The abrasive particles will remove or at the very least massively degrade the coating itself. If this happens, the coating will need to be removed entirely (by machine polishing) and re-applied. It should not be patched up by layering more coating on top as this will lead to sub-par results.

This rule applies to hand polishing as well as machine polishing. It also extends to products like cleaner waxes and clay bars (since these are also abrasive). Any product that contains abrasives should not be used on a ceramic coated car unless the intention is to completely remove it.

Polish BEFORE Applying the Coating (Not Afterwards)

Whilst polishing a car after applying the coating is a bad idea, polishing before using the coating is pretty much always necessary.

Polishing the paint before applying a ceramic coating serves two purposes:

  • Removal of scratches and swirl marks
  • Ensuring the coating has a clean surface to bond to

You should use a polish before using a coating to ensure the surface is free from clear coat imperfections such as minor scratches and swirls. If the coating is applied without removing this damage, then it will essentially be “locked in” by the coating.

The only way to remove the swirls at this point would be to remove the coating and then the damaged layer of clear coat by machine polishing.

Before polishing
After polishing

It’s also essential that the coating is applied to completely clean and bare paint. Using a light polish will clean the surface so it is free from old protection.

The paint should then be wiped with a panel wipe solution to remove the polishing oils. This ensures the ceramic coating has the best surface to adhere to, which maximises its durability.

If you want to learn more about the essential preparation steps for a coating then check out my complete guide to applying a ceramic coating at home.

Check out my article explaining why polishing is required before applying a ceramic coating.

Can You Remove Scratches from a Ceramic Coating?

The reason why you might be looking at this article is because you may have noticed some minor scratches and swirl marks in the coating itself that you want to remove. Unfortunately, polishing is not an option unless you are prepared to completely reapply the coating. Luckily, there is an option though.

If you want to fix minor scratches and swirls in a ceramic coating then you can use a product like CarPro Essence Plus. It is non-abrasive, so will not remove the coating, but contains ceramic coating repair agents to fix minor swirls and scratches.

This product is specifically formulated for use on ceramic coated cars and will improve the gloss level and add some extra protection to the paintwork.

To use the product it is recommended to:

  • Wash with a shampoo designed for ceramic coating.
  • Chemically decontaminate the paintwork using an iron fallout and tar remover if necessary.
  • Dry and wipe down the car with a panel wipe solution to remove any oils from the surface.
  • Apply via DA polisher or by hand using a CarPro Gloss Pad only.
  • Allow to dry to a haze and wipe off.

Keep in mind that this product is only a solution for scratches and swirls in the coating itself and not in the paintwork underneath. In this case, your only option would be to remove the coating.

Preventing Scratches in a Ceramic Coating

If you are noticing scratches and swirl marks in your ceramic coating then it’s likely due to poor wash or drying technique. Ceramic coatings are very hard and have some level of scratch-resistance, however they are far from scratch-proof and will get marred and swirled if washed improperly.

Here are the steps involved in washing a ceramic coating without inflicting scratches:

  • Wash the wheels of the car first.
  • Pre-wash the paintwork using either a snow foam or pre-wash spray. Allow it to dwell for the recommended time (usually around 5 minutes) and then rinse away.
  • Fill two 20 litre buckets with water. Add the recommended amount of a good quality pH neutral, pure shampoo to one of the buckets.
  • Wash the car using a clean and soft microfiber wash mitt using the shampoo for lubrication.
  • Clean one section of the car at a time and rinse the mitt in between in the bucket with clean water.
  • Rinse the car thoroughly.
  • Dry the car using either a car dryer, or a clean microfiber towel and a patting technique. Avoid swiping at the panel with your towel.

Want to know how to get the best performance out of your coating? Check out my complete guide to washing and maintaining a ceramic coated car for everything you need to know.

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Heather is a professional car detailer & valeter based in Cheshire and the owner of Auto Care HQ. A familiar face in the car detailing community, she has written over 200 car detailing guides on and has produced over 165 videos on the Auto Care HQ YouTube channel.

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