Will Acetone Damage Car Paint?

A car with damaged paint is something normal to hate. When the paint looks sloppy and half-destroyed – the car becomes just another tool for transportation – instead of being a means of expressing yourself.

Unfortunately, many things can harm your car paint. This article answers the question, “Will Acetone Damage Car Paint”.

In short, yes. Acetone can damage car paints when used repeatedly. This is a very strong chemical that is best used to remove hard stains. So, to be safe it’s best not to use acetone without following proper guidelines.

So, “Is Acetone Safe to use on car paint?” The short answer is no. But the rest of the article looks at it in greater detail so that you can get a more comprehensive picture and know about the alternatives.

Will Acetone Damage Car Paint? What Are the Aftereffects of Applying Acetone?

Yes, as mentioned before, Acetone will damage car paint if left on the surface of the car for a long time. Even if you wipe it off every time, it will still be able to damage the paint of the car with repeated use.

Now, to understand why acetone damages car paint we need to know what is acetone made of. The chemical symbol of Acetone is (CH3)2CO. That means Acetone is composed of Carbon, Hydrogen, and Oxygen.

Because of this structure, Acetone is an excellent dissolver. It can dissolve a great number of things – including paint.

In cars, the paint is usually protected by a layer and even by wax. All of these layers protect the car paint against UV rays, rain, wind, and other natural elements. However, Acetone is so strong that it can also dissolve these protective layers.

And this is what actually happens. When acetone is applied to any unwanted color stain, the color dissolves. However, kept long enough, the protective layer and wax beneath the unwanted color also get damaged. This leaves the original color of the car vulnerable.

Eventually, the original paint of the car also gets damaged.

This is why it is vitally important to use acetone in smaller amounts and to wipe the car properly after each use. If you do this then your car paint will be safe. Otherwise, acetone will seriously damage your car paint.

What Else Can Damage Car Paint Other Than Acetone?

Other than this, what liquids damage car paint? You may only know about Acetone. Car paints also have many other enemies. The most common are coffee and soda.

Coffee stains on your car are enough to ruin your day. The chemicals present in coffee and soda are corrosive in nature. So, if you do not clean it immediately, it might destroy the protective layer of the paint.

The same is true for brake fluid. Although modern and tougher paints are designed to withstand brake fluids, you should be aware that brake fluids harm the protective coating of the paint to some extent. Especially the non-silicone brake fluids make your car paint vulnerable to UV rays.

Another very common enemy of every car owner is bird droppings. In the heat of the car, bird droppings harden. So, never let bird droppings dry on your car. Wipe it immediately. If you delay, it will leave hard to remove and disgusting stains.

Another surprising substance that hurts your car paint is salt.

Now, how will your car come in contact with salt you ask? People use it in winter on the roads to melt snow. Driving on these roads might expose your car to an increased amount of salt. The salt due to its chemical properties will harm the protective coating. So, regularly wash your car in the winter.

Can I Prevent Acetone From Damaging Car Paint?

As you already know Acetone can damage your car paint. By following proper instructions you can limit this risk. So, let’s have a look at these prevention methods. 

The first thing you must do to prevent acetone from damaging your car paint is to use it in a less concentrated manner. So adding a little water with the acetone is a good idea. Plus, use it in small amounts. If you use less than you need to remove the paint stain, you can always add more later. But if you use more than you need, it will damage the car paint.

Also, limit the places in your car that get exposed to acetone. So, if you want to remove small paint stains then dab a cotton bud with acetone and use this cotton bud to get rid of the stain.

Now, the most important thing to do is to wipe off the acetone from the surface of the car. Never let it stay in the car for a couple of hours. Because the chemicals that form acetone will eat through your paint. So, always wipe the place clean after you use acetone.

By following these instructions you can prevent acetone from damaging your car paint.

Acetone or Paint Thinner?- What Would Be Better?

The two most common paint removers are Acetone and Paint Thinners. While many people use them interchangeably, there are some differences between them.

Acetone is a special liquid chemical made from a reaction between carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It is primarily used as a paint and strong stain remover. Paint thinner on the other hand is basically mineral spirits. However, some levels of acetone can be found in certain brands of paint thinners.

Paint thinners are primarily used, as the name suggests, to thin paints so that paint can be spread more easily. However, this form of mineral spirit can also be used to remove paint – just like acetone.

So acetone vs paint thinner – which one is better suited to removing unwanted paint from the surface of your car? 

Well, it depends on the type of paint you want to remove from your car. If the unwanted paint in your car is dried up, then acetone will probably give you a better result. Acetone, due to its chemical structure, is better suited for dissolving and removing dried-up paint.

On the other hand, if the paint is still wet then you simply use paint thinner. Acetone-free paint thinners are also less hazardous to health. As a result, many people prefer Paint Thinner to acetone. However, always check the label as some paint thinners do contain acetone.

What Alternatives Can I Use to Remove Car Paint?

Now that you know the perils of using acetone, you might be wondering what else can you use to remove paint that is not as risky. Well, the good news is there are a couple of options you can choose from. 

Before doing anything else check if the paint has already dried up or not. If it is still wet you can use paint thinner as discussed earlier. However, an even safer approach, and the one we recommend, is using Car Shampoo, warm water, and a sponge. Using a sponge to apply car shampoo on wet unwanted paint is an easy and safe way to remove it.

If this does not work you can apply gasoline in the place of the unwanted paint splatter. Gasoline too can harm your car paint if left for too long. However, it is safer compared to acetone as gasoline needs to stay on your car for a couple of days before it can do any harm. So, it gives you more time to clean.

Now, if your paint has hardened a bit, then you can try to scratch it off. Remember that if you scratch too hard, you might end up discoloring the original paint. So we recommend using small Wooden Cuticle Sticks for precision and extra safety.

However, if the paint splatter still cannot be removed, then your only in-home option might be to use fine sandpaper. Using sandpaper is risky. So, at this stage, we think it’s better to take your car to a garage. 

What’s The Best Way to Remove Car Paint?

The best way to remove car paint depends on your particular situation. While this article does not instill much confidence in acetone, given a particular situation, even acetone might be the right choice. This shows that the best way is to pay attention to your particular case.

However, there are still some basic guidelines – some best practices if you will.

  • The first thing you should do before removing any unwanted paint is to cover the adjacent car surface. Otherwise, you might accidentally harm the good portion of your car. 
  • Secondly, whatever method you use, clean it up first with some car shampoo and warm water. Remember to use warm water as cold water can make the situation worse by hardening the paint further. After you are done cleaning the surface, gently rub the place with fine sandpaper.
  • If the paint is still there, then you can move on to the next steps. But always conduct these 3 actions first – cover, wash, and rub with sandpaper.
  • Now, you can either follow the mechanical paint removal or the chemical paint removal method.

In the mechanical paint remover method, the unwanted paint will be scrubbed off by fast-moving mechanical sandpaper. In most cases, to follow this approach, you will need to take the car to a garage. 

The other option is to follow the chemical paint removal approach. Applying acetone and paint thinners are examples of this. This is an easy and less time-consuming endeavor. However, as you already know there are some risks of discoloration. So, always wipe the car with water if you follow this approach.

As you can see there are options in your hand. No matter which option you choose be sure to follow the best practices to get the best result.

Questions That Might Stick In Your Head

Does Acetone Remove Car Scratches?

Surprisingly, yes. Acetone can be a viable solution to scratches on your car. Aceton removes moderate levels of scratches and scuff from your car. However, be sure not to let the chemical dry on the surface of the car for too long as that will harm the car paint.

However, if the scratches are not too deep then you can simply rub the wax in them. Rubbing wax also provides positive results.

Will Acetone Damage Car Windows?

If you follow proper instructions that, is wiping off the acetone quickly, then it will not harm the car window. However, it’s kinda overkilling and unnecessary given how many precautions you need to take while there are other viable alternatives.

Instead of Acetone, you can simply use vinegar to clean your window. You can also buy Car Window Cleaner online and avoid any hassle.

Is Acetone Bad for your Health?

Acetone in normal amounts is not dangerous for your health. Many substances found in nature contain this chemical. However, inhaling acetone in large amounts might irritate your skin, eyes, and throat and make you feel confused. So, when applying acetone in your car, it’s best for your health to work in a well-ventilated area. 


Will Acetone Damage Car Paint?” We believe after reading this article you have all the facts to answer it for yourself. While Acetone surely has its uses, it has the potential to damage your car paint if you do not follow the instructions properly. 

So, don’t choose acetone as your first option. Acetone is risky – a risk you should try to avoid whenever possible. There are many other alternatives easily available. Try them out first. If none of them work, then use acetone by taking all the necessary precautions.

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