How To Remove Spray Paint Without Damaging Paint Underneath

Spray paint is commonly used for graffiti, but what happens when some of that paint is sprayed on your car? Repainting a car can be expensive and time-consuming. This is why we have asked experts to teach us the best ways to get rid of spray paint without damaging the paint underneath. 

A general rule of thumb when cleaning stains off your car paint is to avoid using acidic liquids as they eat away at your car paint. You can safely remove spray paint from your car by using different materials, including: 

  • Detergent and water 
  • Rubbing compound 
  • Nail varnish remover 
  • Lacquer cleaner

Getting back the original luster of your car paint after it's been stained by paint can be challenging. Keep reading as we explain different materials you can use to remove spray paint off your car safely. 

Hand of mechanic worker with orbital polisher in car shop, How To Remove Spray Paint Without Damaging Paint Underneath

How Do You Get Spray Paint Off a Car Safely? 

Spray paint is a type of paint that is applied using a pressurized air hose. It can be used for painting cars, walls, fences, or any other surface. 

Male hand in a glove holds an aerosol spray can with white paint

While spray paint isn't harmful, it can disfigure the looks of your car when sprayed unintentionally. Removing it requires extra care to avoid damaging the paint underneath. Here are several removal methods you can try. 

Use Soapy Water

There are different brands and types of spray paint. Some can be more easily removed than others. When spraying paint damage on your car, you should first try to get it off with soap and water before anything else. 

Soap is a popular cleaning agent that removes stains from clothes, dishes, floors, etc. It also can dissolve oils and grease on surfaces such as paint or waxed linoleum floors.

Most homes have soaps in laundry rooms, so they are easily accessible. Plus, they are inexpensive and mild on your car's surface.

So they can remove the spray paint without affecting the car's main paint. If you're lucky, the spray paint on your car might come off with just a few scrubs with soap and warm water. 

Use Rubbing Compound

Rubbing compounds are used to remove paint, varnish, and other coatings from metal surfaces. They can be applied by hand with the aid of a rag. Rubbing compounds can also be used as an abrasive cleaner for removing rust and corrosion.

To clean spray paint off your car, apply a few drops of rubbing compound on a dry cloth. First, test the effect by cleaning a small hidden portion of your car.

If there is no adverse reaction in a few minutes, you can use it over the spray paint. Rubbing compound is best used for small patches of spray paint as they might slightly affect your car's paint underneath. 

Use Nail Varnish Remover

Plastic bottle with nail varnish remover

Nail polish remover is a solution that is primarily used to remove nail polish. It is made up of acetone, ethanol, and water. It is important to note that the nail polish remover you use should not contain acetone, a chemical found in most other nail polish removers.

This is because acetone can damage your car’s paint coating. Plus, it can be toxic to humans and animals. The main ingredient in nail polish remover is ethyl acetate. It has been used for decades as a solvent for paint and varnish removal.

Pour nail polisher remover into a towel. The amount you use will depend on how big the stain is. Gently rub it over the spray paint, wash it, and then see if it works. You can add an extra layer of wax to the affected surface after washing. 

Use Laquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is also known as thinner, and it can be used for cleaning, degreasing, and dissolving tar, tar cement, ink, and oil stains. Lacquer thinner can also clean glassware and remove paint from metal surfaces.

To clean off spray paint from the car, apply a little thinner to a lint-free rag and rub all over the stain gently. Wash it away after you're done. 

Call Maintenance Services

Auto mechanic is using chemical corrosion paint

It might be difficult for you to remove stubborn spray paint from car parts without damaging them. You might be in a situation where you need to get your car cleaned up quickly. Or perhaps you wouldn't want to risk ruining your car paint further, especially if you drive a luxury car.

This is where car maintenance services come in handy. They have specialized cleaning agents that can remove spray stain paints on your car as quickly as possible. 

How To Remove Spray Paint Overspray

Spray paint overspray is the extra coating on top of the main painted surface. It can happen when the spray paint is not applied correctly or when it comes in contact with a stain that is hard to clean.

Spray paint overspray occurs when the liquid part of spray paint dries before being entirely absorbed by the surface. This can happen if the surface has a low absorption rate and too many droplets of spray paint on the surface.

To remove paint overspray, use soap and water or rubbing alcohol to clean it gently. Then dry the surface with an absorbent cloth.

How Do You Remove Spray Paint From Car's Windshield? 

Car sale sign price painted on car windows

Spray paint on a car's windshield can look unsightly, but cleaning spray paint off this part of your car might be tricky as you can cause damage to the glass. Here are a few safe methods that you can try. 

Clean With Soap and Water

You can clean spray paint off with soap and water by following the steps below.

1. Use a spray bottle of water to wet your windshield

2. Apply a small amount of soap to the wet glass using your hands or a cloth.

3. Rub gently to create bubbles and work up a lather in the soap solution.

4. Rinse off all the soap residue with clean water from your spray bottle, making sure to rinse off any dirt that may have been left behind on the glass surface as well.

5. Dry off with paper towels or a cloth, then buff with a dry cloth to remove any remaining streaks or smudges.

While this might work on some spray paint stains, others can be more stubborn to remove. In that case, you can also try using other cleaning materials mentioned above like rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover, and lacquer cleaner. 

Does Vinegar Remove Spray Paint? 

White vinegar on the wooden table top

Yes, vinegar can be effective in removing light spray paint stains. First, heat it in a microwave or pan. Then, use a rag or brush to apply the liquid to the affected surface. Allow it to sit for about 15 minutes, then scrape the loosened painted surface with a paint scraper and wipe off with a damp cloth. 

Vinegar is an inexpensive and effective cleaning agent that can be used to clean many surfaces. It can also be used as a disinfectant, a preservative, or a stain remover.

Does Baking Soda Remove Spray Paint Stains on Cars?  

Jar and spoonful of baking soda on wooden table

Baking soda is a popular household product that can be used to remove paint stains on metals. It has a pH level of 9, which forms an alkaline solution that can break down the paint and dissolve the spray paint. You need to mix it with a bit of water and then apply it to the stain.

Does TSP Remove Spray Paint Stain on Cars? 

Trisodium phosphate is mainly used for cleaning purposes because it effectively removes both organic and inorganic substances. It can be used to scrub floors, tiles, and other surfaces.

Trisodium phosphate is mainly used in detergents, cleaners, and other grease or oil cleaning products. You can use TSP to remove spray paint off your car, but it might slightly affect other car parts made of plastic or rubber. 

To Wrap Up

Spray paint is an easy-to-use tool for artists, but it's usually not great on cars. It leaves behind stains that are difficult to remove and can make your car look dirty if you don't take care of it quickly.

There are many ways you can remove spray paint from your car, but not all of them will work for every stain. If you have exhausted the DIY options mentioned above, you can always call car maintenance services for help.

If you liked this post, you might enjoy reading similar articles about car maintenance. 

Is Degreaser Safe For Car Paint?

How Much Does it Cost to Paint a Chevy Suburban?

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