Can Rubbing Alcohol Damage Car Paint?

Rubbing alcohol is an essential cleaning ingredient. It is sometimes recommended for cleaning stains on cars, but what kind of effect does this have on your car paint? To answer your question, we asked some auto experts for advice and this is how they replied. 

Rubbing alcohol would not damage the paint on your car if adequately diluted and appropriately applied. A ratio of about 10% rubbing alcohol mixed with 80%-85% water is safe for car paint even while it removes stubborn stains like grease.

To understand more about how rubbing alcohol reacts with car paint, hang on and keep reading. We would explain how this works and the pros and cons of generally using alcohol on paint. 

Car service worker applying nano coating on a car detail, Can Rubbing Alcohol Damage Car Paint?

Is Isopropyl Alcohol The Same as Rubbing Alcohol?

Isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol are very similar. But, while some "experts" use these words interchangeably, they are not the same. Isopropyl alcohol is a chemical solution that is pure and concentrated. It has no color. But because it is concentrated, it has a sharp, musty odor.

On the other hand, rubbing alcohol contains isopropyl alcohol. Usually, the level of isopropyl alcohol in rubbing alcohol is about 70%, while other components, especially water, fill the remaining part. Another way to look at them is to see rubbing alcohol as a diluted form of isopropyl alcohol. 

Man working for polishing, coating cars

How Does Rubbing Alcohol React With Car Paint?

If diluted and applied properly, rubbing alcohol will not negatively react with the paint on your car. Rubbing alcohol will, however, remove non-polar composites such as gasoline, oils, fats, and other components such as wax or sealants from the surface of your car. It will also remove bad odors associated with these composites. 

If not diluted and applied appropriately, rubbing alcohol can dissolve or wear off the clear coat, the outermost part of your car paint. The clear coat of car paint is much softer than the actual paint color and is subject to dissolving agents such as rubbing alcohol. 

Can Rubbing Alcohol Damage Car Paint?

Yes, rubbing alcohol, when not diluted and applied properly, can damage exterior paint. You should ensure that you dilute the rubbing alcohol before applying it to the surface of your car. This is because if rubbing alcohol is diluted with much water, it evaporates quickly, leaving no effect on the surface of your car.

Experts advise that in applying rubbing alcohol solution to car paint, you should mix ten percent (10%) rubbing alcohol with ninety percent (90%) water. 

Pros of Using Alcohol on Car Paint

Man after washing wipes white car with a rag at car wash

Rubbing alcohol has a tremendous cleaning effect on your car. Here are five benefits and uses of rubbing alcohol: 

It Removes Different Varieties of Stains

Rubbing alcohol remains a significant cleaning solution for car detailing as it is very effective in removing stains such as oil stains, grease, etc., and other debris from wax or sealants from the surface of your car. 

Rubbing alcohol passes through the paper material of stickers and tags and makes the residues come out without causing harm to the car's paint. 

It Can Be Used to Prime Surfaces of Cars 

Before applying the film, wrap or paint to your car, you would need to prepare the surface of your car, making sure that it is entirely smooth and clean. Rubbing alcohol can provide you with a smooth and clean car surface. 

It Can Prevent Diseases Due to Disinfectant Characteristics

Rubbing alcohol has disinfectant characteristics. This makes it an ideal solution for preventing disease growth and spread through your car's surfaces. You should dampen rubbing alcohol with a microfiber fabric and rub the surface of your car. 

Cons of Using Rubbing Alcohol on Car Paint

There are certain adverse effects of applying rubbing alcohol on car paint when it is not adequately diluted or applied properly. Rubbing alcohol, when not diluted properly, can negatively affect your car's paint.

You should avoid applying rubbing alcohol on cars that are newly painted, and you shouldn't use rubbing alcohol that is concentrated in its original form.

Rubbing alcohol, when not applied properly, can also damage your car's clear coat. For example, if you were to apply the alcohol in its original concentration on your car paint and were to leave it for a long time, you may come back to find a ruined clear coat and paint. 

The clear coat of your car is the foremost paint covering on your car. It is a protective layer that prevents damage to exterior paint. It helps maintain its color and prevents sun damage from ultraviolet rays. 

To eliminate the possible damage to the clear coat, ensure you mix the alcohol with water before applying it to your paint. This would dilute the solution and ensure that it evaporates in no time, thus having no negative effect on your car's clear coat. 

Is Rubbing Alcohol Safe On Car Windows?

Your car windows play important roles in providing a clear view of the front, rear, sides, and side rear mirrors without being obstructed. It is thus important that they remain clean and streak-free.

Rubbing alcohol can make the windows of your car streak-free as it is very beneficial in eliminating haze from car windows. Diluted rubbing alcohol is completely safe on car windows.

Will Rubbing Alcohol Mess Up Window Tint?

Window tint refers to materials installed on the interior or exterior of your car window to reduce the effects of sunlight, headlight, and ultraviolet rays, and to restrict the visibility of people in the car. 

Rubbing alcohol would not mess up your window tint. On the contrary, it is very useful in removing tint glue from the window. It would gently remove adhesives from the surface of your car. 

Is It Safe to Spray Rubbing Alcohol on Windshields?

Wiping using a precise cloth for a windshield of a car

A windshield is a car's front window directly before your car's passenger compartment. It is important that you have a clean and clear windshield as it is necessary for proper visibility. 

To have a streak-free windshield, you should apply rubbing alcohol. It is completely safe to spray rubbing alcohol on your windshields. In fact, rubbing alcohol is very useful in defrosting ice from your windshield and may come in handy during winter.

What Is The Best Material to Clean Car Windows With?

Rubbing alcohol remains one of the essential ingredients in cleaning the windows of your car. This is because of its cleaning properties and disinfectant characteristics, which help clean and purify your car window's surface.

Moreover, diluted rubbing alcohol is less harsh on the window of your car when compared to other chemical solutions. To get the best results, you should combine rubbing alcohol with other components. You can also use mild cleaning solutions like Invisible Glass. Check out Invisible Glass on Amazon

How to Use Rubbing Alcohol on Your Vehicle?

young woman spraying alcohol disinfectant inside her car to kill Coronavirus spreading

Rubbing alcohol is very useful as a cleaning agent, defroster, and disinfectant. Here is a step-by-step do-it-yourself application of rubbing alcohol on the surface of your car. 

Step 1 - Check The Percentage of Isopropyl Alcohol 

While rubbing alcohol usually contains about 70% of isopropyl alcohol, it is essential that you examine the percentage of isopropyl alcohol in the particular rubbing alcohol that you have.

This ensures you know the actual concentration of the rubbing alcohol. You would need this information while you are trying to dilute the rubbing alcohol.

Step 2 - Dilute Rubbing Alcohol

Applying rubbing alcohol to the surface of your car without diluting it would not produce the desired results. Many experts say that you should dilute rubbing alcohol with water.

If your rubbing alcohol contains 70% of isopropyl alcohol, your solution should only contain 15% rubbing alcohol while other elements, especially water, take the remaining. On the other hand, if the level of isopropyl alcohol is above 70%, your solution should only contain 10% of rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing Alcohol Should be Contained in an Enclosed Container 

Rubbing alcohol evaporates quickly. To conserve your rubbing alcohol, it is important that you avoid putting it in an open container. Since you would also be interested in applying it on a surface, a spray bottle may be much more suitable. 

Apply to Car Surface Before Wiping With Cloth

Because it is a solution, there is a tendency to think that you should dip microfiber cloth into the rubbing alcohol before wiping the car. The proper way, however is to apply rubbing alcohol on the surface of your car while you wipe it off using a microfiber cloth.


Car service worker applying nano coating on a car detail

We have given you adequate information about rubbing alcohol as well as its effect on the surface of your car. You should follow the instructions to use rubbing alcohol safely. 

To read more on paints and cars, check out these posts: 

Car Bumper Paint Peeling - What to Do?

How to Cover Tires When Painting Rims

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