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Rubbing alcohol is an affordable and effective cleaning agent that helps us get rid of tough stains and spots thanks to its disinfectant properties. It’s commonly used to eliminate stains on the bathroom floor, kitchen wall, and even on the vehicle.
Rubbing alcohol has been proven to be very powerful, especially when used in its concentrated form. So, before you use it on your car, it’s important to consider whether or not it’s even safe to use.
The last thing you want to do is dissolve your car paint or clear coat.
In this article, we’ll look at the possible effects rubbing alcohol may have on your car’s paint.
Let’s get right into it!
Does Rubbing alcohol damage car paint?
Rubbing alcohol can damage car paint if not used in diluted form. It is a safe and effective cleaning solution to use on car paint, provided it has been diluted in the right ratio.
Specifically, a mixture of 10 – 15% rubbing alcohol and 85 – 90% water doesn’t damage car paint.
A diluted solution of rubbing alcohol is safe to use on the car’s body for various tasks like removing oil, grease, and other persistent stains.
I can’t stress enough that using concentrated rubbing alcohol on car paint can damage it in various ways. For instance, 99% isopropyl alcohol can dissolve the clear coat or cause discoloration of the car paint.
So, if you’re planning to use rubbing alcohol to clean your car, make sure you dilute it with water to the right proportion. It’s also a good idea to keep rubbing alcohol away from fresh paint jobs, even if you dilute it to the right proportion.
Various ways to use rubbing alcohol on your car
Now that you know rubbing alcohol is safe to use on car paint when properly diluted, you’ll be surprised that the solution has many other applications in the car detailing industry.
Some of these applications include:
Rubbing alcohol is a great degreaser that many people use to easily wipe off grease stains on their car’s surface instead of soapy water. It can cut through oils much faster.
Dissolving old layers of car wax or sealant
Car owners usually apply car wax or sealant to protect the car paint from the harmful effects of UV rays like fading and discoloration. Moreover, the best car waxes or sealants give the paint job a mirror-like finish.
As you would expect though, these layers tend to wear out over time, making it necessary to apply a new layer of wax or sealant from time to time. Before adding more, you have to remove the old layer of wax or sealant before you apply the new layer.
This a task you can easily achieve by rubbing the car surface with a small amount of concentrated isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
Cleaning the upholstery
Diluted rubbing alcohol is also a great solution for wiping down your car’s upholstery or carpet to get rid of tougher stains.
Remove adhesive residues on your car’s surface
If you are detailing a car with an old bumper sticker or decal, you can use isopropyl alcohol to remove the sticky adhesive residues. Alternatively, you can use other commercial products like Goo Gone to get rid of the adhesive residues.
However, isopropyl alcohol is much safer than Goo Gone as it doesn’t contain acetone and other stronger chemicals that may strip paint from vinyl or rubber surfaces and areas that don’t have a clear coat.
Restore the headlight lens
You’ll also find rubbing alcohol to be a good solution to use in-between stages when restoring the headlight lens. Thanks to its ability to remove the dust generated during the sanding process as you try to get rid of the hazy headlights.
Sanding the hazy headlights with 300 – 400 grit sandpaper leaves dusty, white chalk on the headlight lens. Interestingly, spraying the surface with rubbing alcohol between stages and after the sanding process helps to get rid of the produced dust.
Remove the windshield haze
Lastly, rubbing alcohol can be an effective way to clean up any waxy or oily products instead of applying products that just don’t work well.
Plus, it doesn’t leave a streak on the windshield and it’s great for cutting through leftover oil to provide a cleaner windshield.
How to safely use rubbing alcohol on car paint
Here are some tips that will help you use isopropyl rubbing alcohol safely on your car without damaging the paintwork:
- Always dilute rubbing alcohol to the right ratio. As mentioned earlier, undiluted concentrated isopropyl alcohol dissolves the clear coat over time, exposing the base coat to various harsh elements.
- Only use rubbing alcohol on car paint on an as-needed basis instead of using it after every wash.
- Avoid applying pressure on painted surfaces when wiping off the surface with rubbing alcohol.
- Buy a spray bottle and distilled water that you can use to dilute and apply the rubbing alcohol on the car’s surface.
To sum up, diluted isopropyl alcohol is safe to use on car paint and has many other uses for detailing autos.
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