Station Pride Articles

Can You Polish Black Plastic Trim with Peanut Butter?

600793_10151440009417075_2116068_nHow black plastic trim ever ended up on a fire truck I have no idea. Cost saving measure? Maybe. Traditional? Not even close. Sleek? I don’t think so. Stubborn to keep looking fresh? Absolutely.

You don’t see too many fire trucks with black plastic trim but the ones that do are usually engine forward. Numerous vehicle makes and models are coming off the line these days with this future eye sore. It should be a sin of all sins to trim something as majestic as a fire truck with black plastic.

I work in a desert environment where it’s dusty on a normal day, let alone the dirt roads. My poor fire engine was adorned with black plastic trim, of which takes a daily beating. Over the last several years I’ve battled to keep it looking restore-plastic-car-trim-800x800fresh. The sun beats on the plastic and then blowing sand pummels it into submission. The trim is porous which allows fine sand and sand dust to make its home there. Black plastic trim fades white with time when exposed to the elements because the oils within the trim are slowly drawn out and evacuated from the plastic.

As a member of Station-Pride I’m big on taking pride in my truck and my station. I’m constantly looking for improvements that can be made. Over the years I’ve tried several black trim restoration products which seem to work for a little while but it doesn’t quite solve the problem.

Some commercial products DO work but amount to nothing more than a paint-like substance that just coats the problem. I’ve also seen a heat gun used 269936_10151439979302075_1573402780_nto gently burn off contaminates and slightly melt the plastic back to looking new. I don’t have enough gumption to take a heat gun to my department’s apparatus.

Scrubbing, brushing, soaping, and washing the plastic doesn’t seem to remove the contaminants from the porousness. Nor does it restore the color of the plastic. I was at a loss until I discovered Peanut Butter! Skippy, Jiff, Peter Pan, Planters; as long as it’s creamy it’ll work great!. I know it sounds crazy but it’s effective.

Peanut butter works because of it’s physical characteristic. The sticky, thick, butter like 11281839_10152928886787075_2052045459_nconsistency adheres and binds to the contaminants in the porous areas, lifting the foreign crap from the plastic and into the peanut butter. Circular motions with a paper towel helps to work the dirt and dust out of the porous areas leaving behind the natural oil from the peanut butter. The oil left behind helps to re-hydrate the plastic giving it a nice natural, clean, glossy shine.

After working the peanut butter around for a few minutes, take a fresh terry-cloth towel or a fresh paper towel and wipe the trim clean. It’s good to go!

I never would have believed it possible until a good buddy of mine introduced me to the polishing magic of peanut butter. I thought he was crazy, but he may have been a bit of a genius.

Applied every month to two months will leave your black plastic fire truck abomination (trim) looking fresh and new.


Peanut Butter Shine

Top: Before – Bottom: After



About Jon Marr (35 Articles)
Jon Marr is a 23-year fire service veteran originally from the Rhode Island area. He currently works as the Deputy Director of Emergency Management in the Wichita Metro Area. He was previously a Station/Battalion Chief at a United States Air Force Base in Southern Spain and a Battalion Chief with the U.S. Army Garrison Kwajalein Atoll in support of the Space and Missile Defense Command. Prior to Kwajalein, Jon spent 8 years as a Fire Captain for the Area Support Group Kuwait Fire & Emergency Services Department supporting the U.S. Army Central Command throughout Kuwait. He was also a Fire Lieutenant at Forward Operating Base Falcon in Southern Baghdad, as well as 3 years working for AMR Seattle. Jon is a certified Fire Officer IV, Fire Instructor III, Fire Inspector II, Incident Safety Officer, Haz-Mat Tech/IC, holds a Bachelors degree in Fire Administration from Waldorf College and has been an EMT for 22 years. He is currently a Graduate Student. Jon enjoys scuba diving, adventure travel, and watching his 12-year-old son see the world in wonder. Jon is a firm believer in maintaining a healthy balance of pride, tradition, and safety within the fire service.

3 Comments on Can You Polish Black Plastic Trim with Peanut Butter?

  1. We use the flexible rubber fenders over metal because as soon as metal gets a dent it looks horrible. Basic tire shine works on it and doesn’t crack or fade. Rural nothern New Mexico here.


  2. Once you apply the peanut butter, just get the station Dalmatian to lick it clean. It’s a win/win.


  3. Not all that new. With work, it will take off sticky residue left after removing decals too.


2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Peanut butter’s not just for Jelly. Here are 15 other practical uses for peanut butter in your daily life
  2. Peanut butter’s not just for Jelly. Here are 15 other practical uses for peanut butter in your daily life – Capturing Moments

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