Can You Use Acetone On Car Paint?

Our content may have affiliate links that can result in commissions for qualifying purchases, full details in our privacy policy.

Due to a number of recent viral videos going over various tips and tricks for various tasks with car paint, we have noticed more and more people asking about if they should be using acetone on their car paint or not. Over the last few months, the number of people who have been asking about using acetone on car paint has been increasing so we have decided to publish this dedicated article going over the various ins and outs of it.

Our hope is that we will be able to explain the advantages and disadvantages (mainly disadvantages) of using acetone on car paint and hopefully help our readers avoid some of the more common mistakes that we have noticed people making time and time again recently. Although it should go without saying, just because you see a video online of someone using acetone with their car paint for a very specific task, this does not mean that you can expect the same results, especially if they have diluted the acetone as getting the same ratios as them can be a pain in itself.

As we see a few different questions all relating to the use of acetone on car paint, we have added a table of contents to our article below so you can skip to the specific sections you are interested in. If you are set on using acetone on your car paint for whatever reason then we would highly recommend that you read the whole article though as there are a number of risks associated with using acetone on paints of all types that you really should be aware of.

Can You Use Acetone On Car Paint?

Although you are able to use a heavily diluted acetone on car paint for some very niche use cases, there is a high chance that it will result in you having problems with your car paint that can quickly spiral out of control, especially if the acetone is not diluted at all. These problems range from the paint fading, feeling, and flaking to the car paint being fully removed where the acetone was applied.

Due to this, we highly recommend that our readers avoid using acetone on their car paint unless they are experienced with its use and know what they are doing. For the majority of people, something like Shine Armor will be a much better option and be easier to use to get rid of dirt, grime, and grease with minimal additional effort required on your part while avoiding the majority downsides of using acetone.

There is still a risk of you damaging your car paint if you do choose to use acetone on it when following tutorials on the exact process of exactly what to do too. It can be difficult to duplicate the exact ratios of acetone to water or other products that are used in the video and different aceton products can have different strengths too making it even harder to balance correctly. This is why we usually just recommend that you avoid using acetone completely and use a more suitable product with your car paint that won’t risk damaging it.

Does Acetone Damage Car Paint?

Acetone can cause a number of problems with your car paint ranging from damage such as the paint flaking, fading in color, or peeling off to the paint being totally removed from the car in the area that the acetone was applied. Acetone is essentially a very strong paint thinner and can even remove protective layers on car paint with ease to get to your car paint and potentially damage it.

There are also less common problems that acetone can cause such as weakening the bonds of the paint so that it may bubble and ruin the over all look of the car. This does tend to be less common in cooler areas though but if you do live in an area that is constantly hot or wam then this is another potential risk to keep in mind if you do use acetone on your car paint.

On the flipside of this, if you live in a cold area and use acetone on your car paint then there is a chance that it can cause the car paint to go cloudy. Depending on the extend of this, you may actually have to have large sections of the car repainted if the acetone does cause paint to be cloudy as the issues can rapidly spread to areas of the car paint that were not initially effected.

How To Remove Acetone From Car Paint!

The quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to remove acetone from car paint is to wipe the area down with some water on a cloth. This will neutralise the chemicals in the acetone to minimise the potential damage to your car paint while also neutralising the pH of the area of your car paint that had the acetone applied to it.

There are a number of different products on the market that people often recommend for removing acetone from your car paint but in reality, they tend to take too much time to get to in a hurry. If you have accidently spilled some acetone on your car paint then the most important thing is to get the bulk of it off as soon as possible so water is usually the quickest and easiest route to take.

Once the bulk of the acetone has been washed off your car paint with the water, then you can head out to your local auto parts store to pick up a specialist solution to deal with any of the left over acetone. Wasting time going to the auto parts before washing the bulk of the acetone off your car paint first may result in damage to your car paint as the acetone takes hold.

Why Are People Using Acetone On Car Paint?

Some people use acetone on their car paint to remove adhesive residue or tree sap that has fallen from a tree on their their car while parked. There is usually a better and safer option to use then acetone though and we would always recommend that our readers try to go with an alternative product first if possible.

We have a dedicated article going over how you are able to use products such as goo gone on your car paint to remove adhesive residue that may be helpful if this is one of the reasons you are considering using acetone. In many situations where people try acetone on their car paint, a homemade solution of warm water with a small amount of soap in it will often be a much better option and offer a safer way to clean your car paint.

One area where acetone does have a potential place on car paint is when used to fix scratches in the paint itself. This has become increasingly popular over the last year or two due to people sharing how easy it can look to use acetone to fix scratches on car paint but as you may guess, as with most things, there is more to it than initially meets the eye.

Will Acetone Fix Car Paint Scratches?

Although some people do use an acetone solution that is often diluted with water or other chemicals to remove scratches from their car paint, there is almost always a better product for the job. These specialist scratch remover products tend to be easier to use, quicker to fix the problem, and don’t have the potential downsides that acetone has when used on car paint.

There are a ton of excellent car paint scratch remover products on the market these days with some of them offering much better performance than others. If you do have some scratches in your car paint and you are a total beginner then going with one of those products will almost always be better than going with acetone or an acetone based solution.

As we touched on earlier in the article, different acetone products have a different strength of acetone so just because someone uses one acetone product diluted with water on their car paint does not mean you will get the same performance with another acetone product with the same amount of water. The two solutions could end up being totally different strengths to each other and offering totally different levels of performance.

Can You Use Acetone On Clear Coat?

Acetone does present a risk when used on clear coat and if left on the surface long enough, the acetone will often work its way through the clear coat and get to the car paint underneath. Although acetone does have its uses, we always recommend that you avoid trying to use it in situations where there is a better alternative and clear coat or car paint is definitely one of those situations.

There are some posts on social media reporting that they used acetone on their clear coat without issue but you have to realise that “clear coat” is not one single product with a set formula. Different brands have their own formulas of clear coat with some being low quality but even the higher quality ones can’t take prolonged exposure to acetone for an extended period of time without having problems.

Even the tougher, more robust clear coat formulas will still have issues with acetone, especially if the acetone is undiluted so it is best to just avoid mixing the two. There are plenty of products that you are able to use in place of acetone on your clear coat surfaces without you having to risk ruining everything in the process.


That brings our article going over using acetone on car paint and we hope that we have been able to explain why it is almost always a bad idea and that you should be looking at other substances for the vast majority of use cases. There are a huge number of reports on social media showing what can happen if you accently leave acetone on car paint and how it can strip it to the metal surprisingly quickly and there ae too many variables involved for most beginners to do it correctly so just avoid the process and go with a different cleaning agent.