How To Remove Touch Up Paint From Car? Useful Tips And Advice

With time, your car will get its fair share of scratches and dents. Applying some touch-up paint is obviously the first thing that comes to any car owner’s mind who is facing such a problem.

Though an easy and affordable solution to ‘fixing’ scratches and chipped paint, it is not the best. Touch up paint when applied incorrectly, the results are often unsightly.

In most cases, the painted part will look uneven. To restore your car’s beautiful appearance, you will have to remove the touch-up paint.

There are many solutions that exist out there. In this piece, however, I am going to introduce you to the three most effective ways of removing touch-up paint from a car.

how to remove touch up paint from car

Method 1 – Picking Away Touch Up Paint with Your Fingernails

This is the oldest and most common method of removing touch paint from a car. Despite it not being a professional technique, it gets the work done.

And it doesn’t require the use of any tools or equipment. The only thing you will need is your fingernails and some toothpicks.

To pick away touch-up paint on your car with fingernails, you will need to evaluate if it is possible to achieve desired results with your fingernails.

For this procedure to work, the paint ought to be loose. And if the touch-up paint is loose, then it wasn’t applied well. Be as it may, try scrubbing off the paint with your fingernails.

Be very gentle and don’t apply a lot of pressure. This is to ensure you don’t hurt yourself and scratch your car paint. If your fingernails aren’t up for this task or you have recently got an expensive manicure, you can use a toothpick instead.

With a toothpick, pry the paint off gently. Slide it under the paint starting from one edge to another. Repeat this process several times until you remove as much touch paint as you can.

For touch-up paint that is very loose or was recently applied, fingernails or toothpicks will be sufficient. A pro tip you should follow when using this procedure is that you should be very careful and gentle.

If the reason why you applied touch-up paint was to correct a scratch or dent, you should avoid by all means adding more scratches. Scraping the touch-up paint too hard with a toothpick can damage car paint and make your finish look worse.

Method 2 – Using a Lacquer Thinner

Before using a lacquer thinner, your car should be sparkling clean. Alternatively, the part where you had applied the touch paint should be free of dirt, dust, and debris.

So, get your hands on some car wash soap and a bucket of water. Wash it thoroughly with soap and rinse it off with soap. Dry it with a microfiber cloth and then proceed to apply the lacquer thinner.

Advisably, the car should be allowed to dry for 20 to 30 minutes. That is if you are not in a hurry. But as long as you dry the area, you don’t have to worry about anything.

Dip a Q-tip into your lacquer thinner and rub it on the dried touch-up paint. Let the solvent sit on your car as advised on the packaging or instructions. The lacquer thinner will soften the car paint.

Lacquer thinners are available in most auto shops and can also be bought online from popular stores such as Amazon. Once it softens, rub off the loose paint with a microfiber cloth and rinse that area with some water.

Method 3 – Sanding Off

Dried touch-up paint can also be removed through sanding. Though not a commonly used technique, sanding does a commendable job at removing touch paint from your car.

But, it also requires the same level of gentleness and precision as picking away loose touch-up paint with a toothpick.

To remove touch-up paint from a car with sanding, get your hands on some masking tape. Mask the area surrounding the touch-up paint and prepare that surface for sanding.

Kindly note that the masking tape to be used on car paint should be specifically designed for automotive surfaces. So, ensure you get your masking tape from an auto shop. While you are still at the shop, you should purchase 150 grit sandpaper.

The reason why I am advising you to stick to sandpaper with a coarse not greater than 150 is to ensure it doesn’t damage your car paint. A 150 grit sandpaper is coarse enough to remove touch-up paint while remaining extremely gentle on car paint.

When sanding off touch up paint from your car, sand back and forth in the area surrounded by the masking tape. The strokes should be even so that you can uniformly remove the touch-up paint. The pressure should be gentle.

Repeat this process till all the touch-up paint has been removed from your car. Before wrapping up this DIY procedure, use a soft brush to wipe away paint chips or dust.

After brushing, confirm if the touch paint has been fully removed. If not, take another grit sandpaper and ensure all the paint has been removed. Brush once more and give that part a thorough rinse.

To smooth the surface that you had applied touch-up paint, a 600 grit sandpaper can do an excellent job. It will buff the area and make it super smooth.

A 600 grit sandpaper isn’t as coarse as a 150 grit sandpaper and won’t scratch your car paint or remove its clear coat. After sanding your car, the last thing should always be brushing off the remaining car dirt.

Tips on Removing Touch Up Paint from Cars

Removing touch-up paint from your car is not rocket science. As a matter of fact, it is one of the simplest DIY procedures that any car owner can use. To do it safely and efficiently, here are some pro tips on removing touch-up paint from your car.

  • You need to gather all essential equipment first. This includes car wash soap, water, soft rags, microfiber towels, masking tape, grit sandpaper, and solvents such as lacquer thinner.

 

  • You should be very careful and avoid scratching your car.

 

  • It is advisable to also be very gentle with the likes of sandpaper or toothpicks.

 

  • Before removing touch-up paint on your car, ensure that it is clean and free from debris.

Other than the above three recommended tips, there are others that are popularly shared in most car forums. I will try to discuss some of these methods and whether they are effective or not.

Will Nail Polish Remove Touch Up Car Paint?

Also known as acetone or paint thinner, nail polish can mask off touch-up car paint. The only problem is, it may also remove the entire touch up and you will have to redo it.

Therefore, not unless you cover the area you had initially applied touch-up paint with masking tape. Also, nail polish isn’t highly recommended as a touch-up paint remover for cars as it may eat through car paint.

What about Rubbing Alcohol?

Rubbing alcohol is another excellent alternative for removing touch-up paint. It’s easily available at home and it’s effective at cutting through paint.

The only problem with rubbing alcohol is that when used at full strength it can cause paint etching. Rubbing alcohol can also eat through your car’s clear coat.

And this will make it lose its shine. You need to be very careful when using this method to remove car paint. By all means, avoid using rubbing alcohol not unless it is the only ingredient you have.

What are Other Remedies Can I Use to Remove Touch Up Paint?

Though I haven’t tried these methods, a couple of car owners have recommended them on forums. Before you decide to use either of the products listed below, do enough research.

Because some ingredients might react differently on your car paint. And the objective here is to remove touch-up paint not to increase the damage.

Other remedies you might explore include;

  • Applying shoe polish of a contrasting color might remove touch-up paint. This will however depend on how loose the touch-up paint is.

 

  • Some car waxes have been known to have a strong formula that can remove touch-up paint.

 

  • Taking your car to a professional detailer for thorough paint correction. This is the most recommended method of not only removing touch-up paint but correcting scratch marks and dents on your car. If you have the resources to take your car for paint correction then please do so.

How to Touch Up Your Car Like a Pro?

To avoid instances where you are forced to remove touch-up paint from your car, it is crucial for you to know how to apply touch-up paint correctly.

This will ensure you don’t have to engage in unnecessary activities of removing car paint and risk damaging your car paint further.

Here are some tips on how to touch up your car professionally;

  • Buy and apply the right color

 

  • Before applying touch up, ensure the area is rust-free

 

 

  • Cover only a small area surrounding the spot

 

  • Give your paint enough time to dry before waxing and polishing