Will Acetone Damage Car Paint? Things You Need To Know

Over the years, acetone has been one of the most commonly used DIY products. It can be used to clean windows, remove stains, scuff marks, and a bunch of other applications.

Are you considering using acetone on your car paint? Well, before you proceed, there are a couple of things that you need to know.

Acetone is harmful to car paint, especially if it is used excessively and left on the paint for long periods.

Most experts wouldn’t recommend the use of acetone on car paint as it removes wax and can eat through the clear coat. However, most car owners use it to remove stubborn stains or clean touch-up paint.

If you must use acetone, use it sparingly and wash it off with water right away. You should also re-wax the area where you have applied acetone because it will have been left raw.

The reason you need to be careful with acetone is that it’s a strong solvent. Despite being very effective at removing unwanted particles on your car surface, it can etch paint if left on for a long.

Failure to remove acetone immediately, the chemicals found in it will dissolve your paint to the base in a couple of hours.

will acetone damage car paint
“Acetone” by Evan P. Cordes, Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Other than Acetone, What Other Liquids Can Damage Car Paint?

Before we can continue with our review on the effects of acetone on car paint, it’s good that I also share with you other products that can damage car paint.

Most of the time, we damage our car paint without even knowing it. A good number of motorists usually think that their car paint is bulletproof and don’t give it much care or consideration.

Contrary to that opinion, car paint is very delicate. And it’s not just acetone that can damage it. Plenty of other liquids can harm the car paint. They include;

• Egg yolk – If you or someone else throws an egg on your car paint, you should wash it right away. Though eggs may seem harmless, their yolk can form a permanent stain on your car paint.

From the moment it touches your car paint, the yolk eats through the clear coat and if not washed immediately, it leaves a permanent stain on the paint.

• Shaving cream – Not unless you live in your car, I don’t know how shaving cream will find its way to your car paint.

But anyway, for the sake of accidents, should shaving cream come in contact with your car paint, wash it off right away. Shaving cream causes paint discoloration when left to dry.

• Vehicle fluids – Though formulated to ensure your car runs perfectly, vehicle fluids should be kept off car paint.

Vehicle fluids such as coolant and brake fluid soften your paint and make it more vulnerable to damage and discoloration. Therefore, when pouring either of these liquids into your car, be very keen and gentle to avoid spilling.

The Effects of Acetone on Paint

Back to today’s culprit, acetone, as mentioned earlier is a popular solvent that has a wide range of applications. It’s a common ingredient in nail polish remover and other products.

The main reason behind acetone’s popularity is its strong degreasing effects. You can use it to wipe off the most stubborn stains and grease on your car paint.

Acetone is so powerful to the point that it can damage nearly all surfaces when used extensively. If you use it on your car paint, it will strip off the wax and then proceed to the clear coat.

Later on, acetone will penetrate your car paint and start dissolving it. It’s not just your car paint that is at risk of damage, other plastic substances can also get dissolved. So, if you must use acetone, do so carefully.

What are the Uses of Acetone?

Thanks to acetone’s degreasing effects, it has many uses in the auto industry. For starters, it can be used to remove all types of contaminants from your car’s surface.

It can also be used to remove stubborn dirt and mud. If you have some adhesive stuck on your car paint, then acetone can strip it off easily.

When using acetone for any purpose, there is something you should know. It evaporates faster but it does leave behind some residue.

The components left behind often dissolve into your car paint and that’s when the damage starts happening.

How Does Acetone Damage Car Paint?

Picking up from where we have left above when acetone evaporates and leaves behind the residue, it dissolves your wax, then the clear coat before penetrating the paint.

The longer acetone is left on a surface, the deeper it penetrates the layers of your car paint.

On surfaces such as plastic, the damage can be so extensive to the point that the affected part has to be replaced.

The only positive thing about acetone damage on car paint is that repainting that part can restore your car’s appearance and finish.

When using acetone to remove grease, dirt, tar, or adhesive remains, you need to be fast so that the acetone doesn’t get to your paint. The sooner you clean that area, the lesser the damage acetone will cause to your car paint.

How Can I Prevent Acetone from Damaging Car Paint?

The only foolproof method of preventing acetone from damaging car paint is by avoiding this product completely. No matter how little acetone you use on your car paint, you risk etching your car paint.

But, if you must use it, make sure that you don’t let it dry on your car paint. Wash the affected area with some shampoo and rinse it off thoroughly with water.

Can You Repair Paint Damaged by Acetone?

Your ability to repair damage caused by acetone heavily depends on how long it has been on your car paint. If left on your car paint for more than a day, the damage will be permanent and there will be no easy fix.

Your paint will be heavily corroded and the only option you have is to repaint it.

On the other hand, if acetone is washed off after a couple of hours, then it may not have eaten past your clear coat. And with some light waxing and polishing, you can restore your car paint’s original look and finish.

When it comes to repairing paint damaged by acetone, how quickly you are matters a lot. Washing acetone right away stops further damage.

And if your car is fairly new, the clear coat can protect your paint from damage. If acetone has already reached the plastic components of your car, the damage may be irreversible.

Before you repair acetone damage on car paint, make sure that you know what you are doing. If you are unsure, leave the paint correction and detailing to the experts.

Is Diluted Acetone Less Aggressive on Car Paint?

For those DIY lovers out there, you are probably used to using acetone to clean your car. Reading this article has changed your perspective on this product.

Understandably, you may be reluctant towards avoiding acetone, so you are probably wondering; can I dilute acetone to make it less aggressive?

Similar to other solvents, when diluted in water, acetone will become less aggressive. But here is the catch, the traces of chemicals will still be left on your car.

And they are equally as capable of damaging your car paint if left on too long. Diluted acetone won’t damage your car right away.

That however is not an excuse for you not to wash it off. After using it to clean your car, wash it off with soap and water to avoid ruining your car paint.

Can Acetone Eat through My Car’s Clear Coat?

If you have read this review keenly then you should have an answer to this question. Acetone eats through a clear coat very fast.

Let me catch you up to speed, acetone is a super solvent. Therefore it’s very strong and won’t struggle to find its way through your clear coat.

As a car owner who appreciates the role played in their car’s clear coat, you need to avoid using acetone. Because your clear coat won’t stand a chance.

What about Nail Polish Remover? Will it Damage Your Car Paint?

Earlier, we talked about how acetone is a key ingredient found in nail polish removers. If you are wondering whether nail polish remover will damage car paint, here is the ugly truth.

Nail polish remover whether it contains acetone or not, can dissolve your car’s clear coat and paint. Therefore, you need to categorize it with acetone and other liquids that are harsh on your car paint.

Can Acetone Remove Tree Sap and Bug Residue From Car Paint?

I know that ordinary car wash shampoo and water may not fully get rid of stubborn stains such as tree sap and bug residue. And you may be tempted to use acetone instead.

Despite acetone being strong enough to dissolve bug residue and tree sap, using it puts your car paint at risk. The chances of damaging your car paint are very high with acetone. So, you are better off using other alternatives.

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