How to soften rubber auto trim

Updated March 23, 2017

Rubber trim that is subject to the sun, heat, wind and rain can often become tough, hardened and dull-looking. Silicone protectants do not allow the rubber to breathe, and can dry trim, while waxes merely coat the rubber and will not penetrate damaged surfaces. To properly restore trim, you will need to lift trapped-in dirt, salts and debris, and then cleanse and protect it in order to soften black rubber trim.

Use your hands to massage a generous amount of Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil into the rubber trim. Apply amply in order to allow it to fully absorb into the trim. You may also apply with a paint brush or sea sponge.

Cover the trim with cling film and allow it to sit in a warm area for several hours. If the weather is cool, you can use a warm hair dryer directly on the trim to help the solution to soak in.

Wait until the Leatherique has completely permeated into the rubber, which should result in the surface being tacky, gritty or displaying a white haze from contaminants that have risen to the surface.

Apply Pristine Clean with a soft towel or by hand and massage out the remaining dirt and debris. For heavy grime, use a soft-bristled brush to scrub the trim. Allow the cleaner to sit on the surface for three minutes, then remove with a clean cloth until dirt is removed.

Use a detailing cloth to gently buff the surface of the trim until you achieve a soft lustre.

Apply a vinyl and rubber protectant such as 303 Aerospace or Pinnacle Vinyl & Rubber Protectant to the rubber trim with a microfiber pad. (Apply at least every two months in hot climates.)


Avoid using stiff-bristle brushes on smooth black plastic; it will scratch.

Things You'll Need

  • Leatherique Rejuvenator Oil
  • Pristine Clean
  • Terry cloth towel
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Microfiber cloth
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About the Author

Abaigeal Quinn works as an international entertainment broker in the United States. She is a former news editor and insurance agent who began writing for a daily newspaper in 1995.