Will Mineral Spirits Damage Car Paint? How To Guide!

Stains are inevitable on car paints. Tree saps and bird droppings are common, especially in areas with dense plant life. Even salted roads, polluted underpasses, and dusty trails contribute to this menace.

It’s tempting to reach out for those spirits as a cleaning solution for small stains on car exteriors. After all, all solvents are the same, right? Unfortunately, they aren’t, and you’re on the verge of incurring debt for new car paint.

You can use mineral spirits, but they’ll damage car paint over time. Continuous use of this solvent will destroy the clear glossy coat covering your color coat, leaving you with a dull matte look.

This article will explore how to clean stains on cars more safely. 

Can I Use Mineral Spirits On Car Paint? 

Thankfully the damage is often external and does not destroy the integrity of the clear coat underneath. So, can your favorite spirits do the job? 

Yes, you can use mineral spirits on car paints to remove most stains. But, I’d warn you not to make a habit out of it. In most cases, it’s better to use soap and water for mild stains.

You may apply mineral spirits for tough stains. Here’s another caution: avoid using spirits for large stains. Why? It means you have a lot to contend with if something goes wrong. 

How Can I Safely Use Mineral Spirits on Car Paint 

Are mineral spirits bad for car paint? It is, but you can circumvent destroying your paint job with these steps:

car being painted
  1. Soak a damp cloth, such as a microfiber cloth, in spirits and place it on the stained part of the car.
  2. Allow the spirits to soak up the stain for at least 5 minutes. The stain will loosen up within five minutes, depending on the type of stain.
  3. Move the damp cloth to clean up the stain.
  4. Here’s the most critical part: Immediately wash the area with soapy water. Do not let the spirits dry on the car paint.
  5. Apply wax coating on the cleaned area to protect the base coat. 

Also, only use mineral spirits to wipe off small stains such as water spots or tree sap. Don’t clean a larger surface—i.e., your entire car—with spirits unless you’re ready to pay thousands for another paint job. 

Properly store your petroleum-based solvents and other solvents to avoid fire outbreaks. Please dispose of the rags by sending them to the nearest hazardous waste facility. 

Can I Use Paint Thinners on Car Paint? 

Mineral spirits are often used interchangeably with paint thinner. So, is it alright to use paint thinners for cleaning cat paints, too? 

You may use paint thinners for cleaning stains on cars. However, paint thinners are not designed for cleaning car stains. Continuous use of paint thinners on car paint may lead to paint etching and loss of clear coat. 

As a DIYer, ensure you use soap and warm water to wash off paint thinners immediately after using them for stains. 

Note: paint thinners degrade plastic, rubber, enamel, or vinyl surfaces. 

Can I Use Acetone on Car Paint? 

Once again, not all solvents are the same; some cause more harm than others. For example, acetone is a more effective solvent than spirits. So, using acetone to remove stains on car paint is a recipe for disaster. 

Although acetone removes all stains on paint, it takes just a few hours for it to damage your car paint. In contrast, it takes a continuous use of mineral spirits to destroy car damage. 

If you insist on using acetone, immediately wipe it off with soap and warm water. Furthermore, coat the cleaned region with wax. 

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Can I Use Rubbing Alcohol Instead of Mineral Spirits on Car Paint? 

Rubbing alcohol has a lot of applications in the automobile industry. It evaporates faster than mineral spirits and doesn’t degrade car paint. Professional automobile workers and manufacturers use it to prepare vehicle surfaces for fresh wrap or paint. It’s also considered safe for cleaning car interiors.

As a DIYer, it’s preferable to use rubbing alcohol instead of mineral spirits since it doesn’t damage car paint and coat. As a disclaimer: Do not use rubbing alcohol at full strength when cleaning. Always dilute it to 10 or 15 percent. 

Can I Use Mineral Spirits Before Painting Cars?

Good paint prep is the difference between a masterpiece and a shoddy job. What’s more? A paint prep will determine if you end up with fisheyes or not. 

If you are thinking of using mineral spirits before painting your car? DON’T. You will probably end up with fisheyes when you use mineral spirits. 

After sanding the old car paint, DIYers should always go for products specifically designed to remove wax and grease. 

Is Mineral Spirits Bad for Paint? 

DIYers can use mineral spirits as paint preps and for thinning oil-based paints. It effectively wipes off grease and wax deposits on wood and concrete surfaces.  

Most professional woodworkers or painters turn to spirits after sanding or restoring old or antique furniture. Prepping with spirits before applying finish boosts the luster and aesthetics of the furniture. 

In painting, spirits can reduce the thickness of oil-based paint, making it easy to spray paint. 

Let’s not forget that certain kinds emit no odor, unlike most paint thinners. Odor-free mineral spirits are easier to use in paint thinning since they are less toxic and evaporate slowly. 

Conclusion: Will Mineral Spirits Damage Car Paints? 

Mineral spirits are great for one-time use. Just don’t make a habit of using it for car stains; continuous use can damage the glossy finish on your vehicle. Also, clean it away with soap and plain water. You know what? Only use spirits for stubborn stains; soap and water are enough for mild stains.