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RV Metal Polishing Guide

Polish metal to a mirror shine! Here are our top tips and techniques to polish metal, including chrome, aluminum, and stainless steel. We’ve included some of the best RV metal polish and RV metal cleaner recommendations, all tested and approved by our staff. There’s nothing like the gleam of just-polished metal on your RV and we’ll tell you how to get it.

Aluminum

Aluminum is a relatively soft metal and its one of the easier metals to polish and get a bright shine. Aluminum, usually an aluminum alloy, is used to make wheels, trailers – including the vintage Air Stream trailers, diamond plate, engine components, and so on.

McKee RV Metal Brightening Soap is all natrual and doesn't contain any harsh chemicals
Rub the included sponge over the soap to create a thick lather that polishes all metals to a mirror finish.

For all its great qualities, aluminum oxidizes very easily. It’s actually a defense mechanism of the metal: a light layer of aluminum oxide protects the underlying metal from corrosion. This aluminum oxide is functional but it’s not attractive, and that’s why factory-polished aluminum is usually coated. (In this case, you need a metal polish that is safe on coatings, unless you plan to remove the coating. For stripping the coating, consult a professional.)

If your aluminum is uncoated, you’re ready to get started with an aluminum polish. McKee’s RV Metal Brightening Soap is formulated for use with all uncoated metals, including aluminum.  This product is incredibly effective at removing oxidation, tarnish, stains, and water spots.  If the surface is heavily oxidized, then you’ll want to pre-treat it first using McKee’s RV Aluminum & Metal Restoring Spray.  This acid-based cleaner dissolves the top layer of oxidation, creating less work for the polishing step.

Cleaning and polishing your RV’s bright work doesn’t have to be a messy, laborious task thanks to McKee’s RV Metal Brightening Soap. If you are like a lot of people that have sensitivity to chemicals, rest assured the metal polish you’ve been waiting for is finally here. This non-toxic soap relies on smart chemistry instead of high-octane cleaners like ammonia, a common ingredient in other metal polishes. McKee’s RV Metal Brightening Soap cleans, shines and restores the appearance to stainless steel, aluminum and diamond plate surfaces

McKee’s RV Metal Brightening Soap is arguably the easiest RV detailing product you’ll ever use. Simply wet the included sponge and rub it back and forth across the soap until a thick lather is produced. Then, take the sponge and polish your RV’s bright work to a mirror finish. Treated surfaces will be clean, shiny and well protected thanks to the anti-corrosive agent found in Metal Brightening Soap.

McKee RV Metal Brightening  Soap removes oxidation and staining from metal surfaces Works great on wheels!

Anodized Aluminum

Anodized Aluminum is a unique material in that it’s meant to be oxidized. Remember when I said aluminum oxidizes as a defense mechanism against deeper corrosion? Anodizing increases the thickness of the aluminum oxide layer to strengthen the underlying aluminum’s natural resistance to corrosion. The resulting finish is very porous and is therefore usually sealed or dyed. That’s why many metal polishes cannot be used on anodized aluminum. McKee’s RV Waterless Wheel Wash & Polish is one of the few that can be used with excellent results.

Chrome

McKee RV Aluminum and Metal Restoring Spray removes oxidation and road grime

Chrome is actually a plated metal. Chromium, the metal used in chrome-plating, is highly resistant to tarnish and retains a reflective shine better than any other metal. However, chrome will rust without regular maintenance. The best way to keep small rust spots from becoming a big problem is to remove them ASAP. The sooner you catch the damage and correct it, the better your chances are of saving the chrome.  A routing cleaning of your RV’s chrome surfaces using McKee’s RV Final Step Detail Wax goes a long way in preventing long-term damage from environmental contaminants. 

There are a lot of great products on the market for cleaning and polishing chrome. If the chrome has heavy oxidation, calcium or lime scale, or green tarnish, use McKee’s RV Aluminum & Metal Restoring Spray first. Despite its name, it can safely be used to clean chrome. This product is an intense cleaner that removes the bulk of the oxidation so the metal polish can get to the source of the problem. It saves you elbow grease and gets you results faster. Spray it on, wait 1-2 minutes, use a sturdy nylon brush to gently scrub the metal, and then rinse well. Quick, easy, and effective.

Apply Liquid Chrome Metal Polish with a microfiber applicator pad

Next, use a metal polish that states on the label that it is safe on chrome. McKee’s RV Liquid Chrome Metal Polish is a very safe but very effective metal polish. It removes rust, tar, water spots, and bugs on all types of metal, aluminum and chrome surfaces. The application will be the same for most metal polishes: wipe it on with a soft cloth, rub briskly (not hard), and buff off with a clean cloth

Hand polishing can be tedious. If you have an electric drill, you will save yourself a lot of work by using a Lake Country Wool Polishing Ball. This tool improves the performance of the metal polish by polishing faster than you can by hand. Wipe the polish onto the chrome with a cloth or applicator. Start your drill at a low speed and gradually increase it to 3000 RPM. Work until the polish starts to disappear. Stains and rust should be gone; if not, try again. Metal polishing isn’t always easy but the rewards are pure bliss to an RV enthusiast.