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Does Rubbing Alcohol on Car Paint Damage Your Car?

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Rubbing alcohol on car paint is a solution that might come in handy when you want your car to look clean. However, using alcohol might not be a recommended method, even if it is popular. Does rubbing alcohol on the car damage the paint? When can this be used in cleaning a car? Here’s how you should strike the perfect balance if you plan to use alcohol to clean your car. 

Does Rubbing Alcohol on Car Paint Damage Your Car?

Can I use alcohol to clean my car? 

In addition to its disinfectant properties, rubbing alcohol is an affordable cleaning agent. However, it can be too strong on your car’s paint when used in its concentrated form. In other words, the possible effects of using 99% isopropyl alcohol include stained or discolored paint or dissolving the clear coat.  

Using rubbing alcohol in the right ratio on your car is an effective cleaning method. A mixture of 10%-15% rubbing alcohol to 85%-90% water will not damage the paint. This can remove grease, oil, and other persistent stains on your car’s body. Therefore, one can clean their car using alcohol diluted with water.  

When can I use rubbing alcohol on my car? 

There are instances where using alcohol is highly beneficial for both cleaning and disinfection.  

Removing grease 

Grease stains are the most common stains on a car. Alcohol can be used as a degreaser by applying the diluted alcohol on a cloth, consequently wiping the grease off.  

Cleaning the upholstery 

Wipe down any upholstery of your car with a diluted solution of alcohol. Meanwhile, if you are cleaning carpets, spray the solution on the carpet, followed by wiping and air drying it. In case of tough stains, use a cloth with alcohol to clean them.  

Dissolving old layers of wax 

A small amount of concentrated alcohol removes years of pent-up wax on the paint. Even though the wax ensures the longevity of the paint on the car, it can build up over the years and do the opposite of what it is meant to do. However, alcohol can come to the rescue in such situations. Its potency is strong enough to dissolve the wax on the paint.  

Clear off adhesive materials 

The adhesive remnants of the stickers that were once considered cool for your car but are not anymore can be easily removed using a microfiber cloth and alcohol solution.   

Get rid of water spots 

Water spots on glass may seem like an easier problem to resolve; however, it might also require some elbow grease in addition to alcohol to wipe it off.  

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Removing the windshield haze 

The haze on the windshield is a very common problem with continuous usage. This is mainly because of the oily residue that accumulates over time. The rubbing alcohol solution can cut through the haze and provide a cleaner windshield. 

Restoring headlight lens 

When you are cleaning the headlight using sandpaper, rubbing alcohol solution can be used to remove the dust that is generated during the process.  

How should I use rubbing alcohol on my car? 

Your car’s paint and the shine it gives it could be one reason why you love it. However, if not protected with a clear coat, the surface of your car certainly becomes an easy target for scratches and fading. Therefore, it is important to ensure you dilute your alcohol solution. Using a spray bottle and a microfiber cloth can help the process of cleaning when using a solution of rubbing alcohol. 

Here are a few tips that can be useful if you plan to use rubbing alcohol on your car’s surface.  

  • Dilute the rubbing alcohol with water.  
  • Run a patch test of the solution on a small area. 
  • Avoid using the solution on surfaces that are freshly waxed. 
  • Do not use it on hot surfaces. 
  • Avoid the application in direct sunlight as this can trigger fading of the paint.  
  • In the case of softer clear coats, use a lighter alcohol solution. 
  • If not for tough stains, avoid applying pressure. 

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Frequently Asked Questions 

Will rubbing alcohol damage my car window? 

A diluted solution of rubbing alcohol can be used to clean car windows. However, you should make sure you are using a microfiber cloth to avoid scratching the window.  

Can I use alcohol to clean my car dash? 

No. Do not use rubbing alcohol on your car’s dash since it can damage the sheen on the surface of the dashboard. However, you can use a mild cleaner or soap and water to clean the dashboard.  

Can I use alcohol to remove the paint peeling off my car? 

Do not use rubbing alcohol to remove paint peeling off your car. This is because the alcohol solution will damage the surface in addition to removing the paint.  

What should I do in case of an accidental alcohol spill on my car’s surface? 

If you have spilled alcohol on your car’s surface, then use a microfiber cloth to absorb the alcohol from the surface. Wash the surface with soap and water after this.  

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