When it’s time to clean your car, which parts do you focus on the most? Definitely the surface of the car. Most likely the headlights and windows. But what about the black rubber trim around car windows? If you’re like most people, it barely crosses your mind even when you’re doing a thorough cleaning.
And yet, the rubber trim isn’t nearly as unimportant as it may seem. Though it might never become your priority, you should pay attention to it and clean it regularly. And in this guide, I’ll show you exactly how to do that.
Why Is There Rubber Trim on Car Windows?
Nothing on your car is there by accident, so even something seemingly insignificant, like rubber trim, serves an important purpose. Namely, it’s there to protect and seal your car’s windows.
Dirt, moisture, and insects are only some of the contaminants that your car is exposed to every day. If there was no rubber trim, these particles would fall into the tiny space between the windowpane and the door. Once there, they could cause corrosion and rust within the door, which is extremely difficult to deal with.
Moisture is a particularly dangerous contaminant — mostly because of the electronic window controls that it can damage. Rubber trim successfully keeps the moisture away and your windows safe.
Unfortunately, the trim doesn’t last forever. Though rubber is quite durable, it’s not completely resistant to damage. Over time, the sun’s radiation dulls the rubber and makes it hard and brittle. Heat, rain, and wind have similar effects on it. Eventually, cracks appear on the rubber, letting the contaminants in.
In addition, a worn-out rubber trim doesn’t look that great. Even though it’s only a small detail, it can ruin the overall impression of your car, especially if everything else looks sleek and polished. And obviously, that’s something you want to avoid.
How to Clean Black Rubber Trim Around Car Windows
Now that you know how important the rubber trim is, you might be asking yourself how to make sure it doesn’t wear out. The best way to slow down the process is to regularly clean it and maintain it — just like you do with all other car parts. So here is how to take care of your rubber trim and get the best possible results!
What You’ll Need
- Car shampoo. Good car shampoos are not hard to find — every automotive shop should offer some, and there are plenty online. They are affordable and specifically made for cleaning cars, so you can’t go wrong with them. But you can also make a car shampoo on your own simply by using baking soda and dishwashing soap.
- A soft brush. Rubber is a soft material, so using a brush with stiff bristles is a bad idea. It could leave scratches that would be much more difficult to deal with than some dirt. If you don’t want to buy a whole new brush just for your car, use a toothbrush. It’s soft and small enough for detailed work, and also easy to handle.
- Microfiber cloths or towels. Microfiber towels are softer than regular ones, so they are perfect for the sensitive area around the window. They won’t leave any scratches on the trim, but they’ll also be gentle on the car polish and the window itself.
- Rubber trim protectant. Applying rubber trim protectant will extend the life of your trim and make it more resistant to the sun, dust, and elements. Make sure to buy a protectant that’s strictly for rubber as it will give you the best results. In addition, always check if it has UV protection.
Now that you have all the necessary products and tools, it’s time to get to the main event. Cleaning the rubber trim isn’t that difficult, and it doesn’t take long — but here is exactly what you need to do.
First, roll the windows down completely. If you see any dust or debris on the rubber trim, wipe it away with your microfiber cloth. The trim should be as clean as possible before you start.
Next, apply the car shampoo that you bought or made to the rubber trim. Don’t start scrubbing right away — make sure to cover all window trims first. That way, the shampoo will have enough time to really work its way into the rubber. Then take a soft brush or toothbrush and begin scrubbing. Focus on the areas with more dirt.
Take a damp microfiber towel and begin wiping off the shampoo. Rinse it off thoroughly — you don’t want any shampoo residue left on the trim. It could also transfer to your window or car paint, and that wouldn’t look great.
Before you move forward, inspect the trim. If you find any dirt, apply the shampoo again, and repeat the process until it’s all gone.
Once you’re sure there are no stains, take the microfiber towel and dry the trim. You’ll also need to let it air-dry for a while, so use that time to check on the interior rubber trim.
Because it’s not directly exposed to the sun, the interior trim probably won’t be as damaged or stained as the exterior one. Still, it’s good to touch it up once in a while. Usually, using a damp microfiber towel will do the trick.
Finally, apply a rubber protectant to the exterior trim by simply following instructions on the bottle.
How Often You Should Clean the Trim
There are no rules about rubber trim cleaning — you can do it whenever you feel it’s necessary. However, keep in mind that the trim will wear down much faster in sunnier climates due to the frequent exposure to UV rays.
So if you live somewhere sunny, you might want to treat your rubber trim at least once a month. But if you’re in a place that gets more cloudy days, cleaning it once or twice a year will be just enough.
How to Restore Black Rubber Trim Around Car Windows
Cleaning the rubber trim is important — but it won’t do much good if it is already cracked and damaged. If that’s the case, you need to take a few extra steps and restore the trim first. After you do, clean it and maintain it as described above!
What You’ll Need
- Car shampoo. Instead of a shampoo, you can use a simple soap solution mixed with warm water. Dishwasher liquid works just as well.
- Lint-free towels. Microfiber towels are lint-free, so they are perfect to use for restoring rubber trim. But you can use other kinds of towels and cloths as well — as long as there is no lint.
- A sponge. Choose a gentle sponge that won’t damage the trim further or leave scratches on the car surface.
- A rubber conditioning product. That’s right; cars use both shampoos and conditioners. You’ll find conditioning products in most automotive shops or online, but you can also use vegetable-based cooking oil or almond oil.
- UV protecting spray. The sun causes most of the cracks on the rubber trim, so you should make sure to protect it. UV protecting sprays are your best option.
First, mix equal parts of soap or dishwasher liquid and warm water. Lower down the windows as you would if you were simply cleaning the rubber trim. Then wash the dirt and stains from the trim with your mixture and carefully scrub with a microfiber towel.
Once that’s done, put some rubber conditioner onto a soft sponge. The sponge works best because it absorbs the product well, and it’s gentle enough on the car. On top of that, you won’t have much trouble reaching any nooks and crannies.
Apply the conditioner onto the trim and rub it in. After that, let it sit there for 10 to 15 minutes, and then put another coat on top. This time, let it stay there for four hours.
And finally, once you’ve rinsed off the conditioner, apply the UV protectant. That way, you won’t have to worry about rubber trim damage for quite some time. In fact, you should spray the trim with UV protectants even when it’s not cracked to extend its life.
If you need more tips on how to restore rubber trim around the car windows, the video below will help you.
Can Rubber Trim Always Be Restored?
Unfortunately, if you let the rubber trim on your car windows sustain too much damage, no amount of product will help. You’ll easily figure out when it’s past the restoration point — the trim will literally flake off when you touch it. At that point, it’s best to get a new one installed.
Clean rubber trim around your car windows makes the car look sharp and stylish. But that’s not all it does — it also protects it from contaminants that can lead to corrosion and rust, or seriously damage its electronic systems. Now you know how to maintain the trim properly, so you won’t overlook its cleaning ever again!