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Will Acetone Damage Car Paint?

Will Acetone Damage Car Paint?

Used in the removal of different chemicals and other composite products, acetone is used in a number of household cleaning products. 

You may be tempted to use one of these common cleaning products to wash your car, but the presence of acetone needs to be considered.

But should acetone be used to remove dirt or grime from your car? Or will it be more harmful to your paint than helpful?

Acetone can be very harmful to car paint if used excessively, very frequently, or if it’s not thoroughly rinsed from your car. However, if you use it in small amounts, clean it quickly and thoroughly, then you can safely use products that contain acetone on your car paint.

This article will explain when to use acetone to clean your car, the advantages and disadvantages of using acetone, how to clean it properly, and a whole lot of other things.

So, keep on reading till the end, so you don’t make a mistake and ruin your car!

Does Acetone hurt a car’s clear coat?

A car’s clear coat is the layer of clear paint or resin on top of the colored layer, and its sole job is to protect the colored layer underneath.

Since acetone is an extremely strong degreaser, using it and leaving it on your car for a long period of time will lead to the acetone eating through the clear coat, down to the colored layer of paint on your car. 

Acetone will also cut through the wax layer on your car if you’ve had your car waxed recently.

Should you ever use acetone on car paint?

Since acetone is a very strong paint thinner, it is advised that you only use this if you are experienced with it, since improper usage of acetone can lead to a whole plethora of different paint issues with your car.

If you have to use it, make sure that you apply a very small amount onto the required place, and quickly wipe it with water and a clean cloth. The water will neutralize the strong acidity of the acetone.

Whatever you do, do not let the acetone sit on the paint for even a small amount of time. This can lead to the car being discolored from that part, or lead to the wax layering being completely finished.

What else can hurt a car’s paint?

Acetone isn’t the only harmful thing for your paint. There are a ton of things that can permanently damage your car’s paint, and which you should watch out for!

Bird excrement

Be wary whenever you park your car under a tree, because when you come back, there’s a huge chance your car is covered with bird droppings.

The acidic content of bird droppings can cause harm to your car’s paint, and the best thing to do is to have it removed as soon as possible.

This can be achieved by using a cleaning solution, or household detergent with some soap and a clean rag. 

Gently scrub the area with the solution, and wipe it off.


Be careful of any gas spilling onto your car’s chassis when you’re filling up. 

Gas can be harmful in the form of long-lasting stains that are extremely hard to get rid of.

This can be prevented by wiping off the gas with a solution of soap or detergent and some water.

Soda or other carbonated drinks

The acidic content in carbonated drinks can be harmful to your car, so make sure not to spill any if you’re having a drink while sitting in the car.


Getting your morning coffee can also cost you if you accidentally spill some onto the exterior of your car. Coffee has a high acidity level and can ruin your car’s paint.

Tree sap

Although this is less heard of, tree sap can be harmful to your car’s paint as well. 

Tree sap can cause severe staining onto the exterior of the car, and if you live in a warmer climate, this process will be accelerated!

The trick to removing tree sap from your car is to use either rubbing alcohol or a homemade cleaning solution, preferably one that is acetone free.

Let the solution sit on the tree sap for about 30 seconds, then proceed to rub and gently wipe it off with a clean rag. You can repeat this process until the tree sap is completely removed from your car.

If the tree sap has hardened, try using a blade or a knife to gently scrape it off before applying the mixture. Make sure to do this very carefully, or you’ll accidentally scrape the paint off as well.


Bugs are bound to get stuck to your windshield and chassis, and not wiping them off can leave a disgusting mark on your car, and its best to clean these off as soon as possible.

Bug stains can be removed by using a mixture of detergent and water, and you can gently scrub the stain with a cloth until it’s completely removed.


You might think not cleaning your car and leaving a dust coat on it isn’t that harmful, but it actually is! Regularly wash your car to make sure that dust doesn’t leave a mark on your car!

The reason behind this is if you rub anything on the car with dust present, the dust particles scrape against the car’s paint.

This can leave lasting damage if not treated over a long period of time.

Final thoughts

We hope this article solved your query regarding acetone, and that you will use it wisely and not cause any lasting damage to your car.

Always remember to use very small amounts, and clean it as quickly as possible. 

The potential damage acetone can cause only increases the more you let it stay on the car’s exterior. 

Getting your car waxed is also a great option to preserve the color coating of the car.

Aside from acetone, we also highlighted several other substances that can harm a car’s exterior, so make sure that you regularly clean your car. 

It is advised to have your car washed weekly or once every two weeks.

Zach Reed

Hi, I'm the founder of! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!