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I get a lot of PMs about how I clean my car, and differences between glaze, polish and compounds.... Well here is a full description of all of them. I hope it helps :)

The difference between compounds, polishes and glazes can best be described as the amount of cleaning power or abrasiveness in the product. The most abrasive products are called compounds. These products are designed to remove (abrade away) a portion of the top paint or clear coat layer which contain sanding swirls, scratches, water spots or blemishes. They are available in many different grades of abrasiveness or "cut" depending on the severity of the problem to be corrected. Compounds are best used with a circular polisher but can produce acceptable results with dual-action polishers if the defect is minor. Compounds typically leave the surface dull. This surface dullness is called haze or compounding lines and is removed by polishing with increasingly less abrasive polishes. Unfortunately, there is no industry standard to quantify when a "polish" becomes a "compound" and one manufacturer's polish may have the same cutting ability (abrasiveness) as another manufacturer's compound.

Products that contain solvent cleaners or very mild abrasives are called polishes, pre-wax cleaners or paintwork cleaners. They can vary from having very mild natural solvents to quite strong petroleum solvents and may or may not contain fine abrasives, silicones, fillers and waxes. Polishes prepare the surface for waxing, remove old wax or paint sealants, visually reduce swirls and minor blemishes (usually through the use of fillers) and restore surface gloss. They do not have the "cut" of compounds and typically burnish the surface to a mirror-like gloss rather than abrade away paint. Polishes can be applied by circular polishers, dual-action polishers or by hand. Unfortunately, there is no industry standard on what constitutes a polish and some manufacturers use the word "Polish" to describe their paint sealant which adds to consumer confusion. In the strictest sense a polish is a gloss-enhancing, cleaner not a protectant but some "polishes" do contain wax or sealants which blurs the line between polishes and protective coatings.

"Glazes" are typically used at automotive manufacturing plants and by paint and body shops on freshly painted surfaces. Their primary function is to improve the brilliance and clarity of the paint. They may contain fillers to hide very minor imperfections (swirls) and may or may not offer any protective qualities. Glazes revitalize the look of all paint finishes through oils and "wetting agents". Glazes are almost always body-shop safe which means they do not contain any silicones. After a vehicle is painted or touched up it may be compounded to remove minor defects, polished to remove compounding haze or surface dullness and a glaze applied to create a uniform, deep, "wet" shine before it is delivered to the consumer. Because glazes tend to create a "wet-look" shine they have come to be used by enthusiasts to maximize shine on show cars, historic and exotic vehicles and even daily drivers. Glazing does not replace polishing with a polish. A vehicle should always be polished first, a glaze applied and usually finished with some type of wax or paint sealant (on cured paint).
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