While vinegar is a standard household cleaning solution, you may be wondering whether it’s safe on car paint or not. From my experience, vinegar will strip car paint if misapplied.
In this article, you will know more about vinegar, what to do if your car was stripped by vinegar and what other liquids can damage your car paint.
- 1 Can I Wash My Car with Vinegar?
- 2 Does Diluted Vinegar Damage Car Paint?
- 3 Can I Use Vinegar and Dawn (Dish Soap) on My Car Paint?
- 4 Vinegar Alternatives-My Best Recommendation
- 5 What To Do If My Car Was Stripped by Vinegar?
- 6 What is Vinegar Used for In Cars?
- 7 Besides Vinegar, What Liquids Damage Car Paint?
- 8 Final Thought
Can I Wash My Car with Vinegar?
I only recommend using vinegar to wash your vehicle’s interior since it is safe on all cabin surfaces. However, it would be best not to let it dry on any surface. Instead, wipe it off with a soft microfiber cloth as soon as you apply it to the intended area.
To this end, it does not mean to steer clear of all exterior surfaces.
Does Diluted Vinegar Damage Car Paint?
Diluted vinegar is not that acidic, but it’s not alkaline either. It is because water is not alkaline, so all it does is raise the pH value of the solution. In this case, diluted vinegar is still capable of damaging car paint. It will happen if you use it in direct sunlight, high heat, or if you leave it on the car paint for a long time.
The type of damage I am talking about is an etching that can eat away at the clear coat. In some cases, it will leave white blotches. Hence, you will want to use it sparingly. Still, you will need to re-wax your car since the vinegar will remove the wax.
The main problem is that diluted vinegar does not contain any lubricant like a car shampoo and other car detailing products. If you leave the diluted vinegar on the vehicle for a long time, the water evaporates and leaves behind the acetic acid. The acid will start to erode the paint immediately.
Can I Use Vinegar and Dawn (Dish Soap) on My Car Paint?
Dawn detergent is not formulated for use on your car’s paint. When combined with vinegar, the obvious thing is that the two products will strip the car’s wax. Frequent use of the two cleaning agents will leave your vehicle unprotected, especially during the winter months when you may not want to apply wax by hand. Furthermore, Dawn and vinegar can accelerate the oxidation process giving your car a dull look.
My advice on vinegar and Dawn dish soap is to use them sparingly and only for tough stains like tree sap or stripping old wax.
Moreover, you will want to steer clear of any dish soap with blue particles that act as abrasives. These particles will most definitely scratch a car’s paint when you rub the soap.
It’s best to stick to vehicle washing products since most contain wax. As such, a little wax is left behind after you wash your car.
Vinegar Alternatives-My Best Recommendation
Griot’s Garage 11146 Quick Detailer
What To Do If My Car Was Stripped by Vinegar?
Well, if you’ve been using vinegar and have discovered etch spots or dimples, don’t beat yourself too much. You can correct this kind of damage by polishing or painting. Polishing is much easier at home. You will need the best liquid rubbing compound, car polish you can’t get your hands on, and a machine polisher.
The idea is to eliminate the dullness by polishing the affected area thoroughly.
Step 1: Preparation
- Buffing Pad
- Dual-action buffer
- Liquid rubbing compound
- Clean polishing pad
- Car polish
- Good automotive wax
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Step 2: Clean your car thoroughly with car shampoo and rinse with lots of cool water. It’s essential to ensure that you remove all surface dirt. Then park your car in the shade to let the exterior cool down.
Step 3: On a high-quality dual-action buffer, attach the buffing pad and pour a tiny amount (about a quarter-sized) on the pad. The rubbing compound is a cutting agent which can cut through paint, so be gentle. By this, I mean working in small circular motions for a few seconds until the compound creates a shiny surface.
Step 4: Wipe off any excess compound and move on to the polishing/buffing pad and car polish. Apply a tiny amount of polish on the pad and work the buffer in circular motions. The polish will remove any swirl marks and produce a glossy layer.
Step 5: After polishing the affected area, finish it off with the automotive wax. Note that polishing introduces microscopic pores that’s why you need the wax to seal the surface.
What is Vinegar Used for In Cars?
Vinegar is used on various car surfaces for different purposes.
Stuck on dirt on windows and windshield: Vinegar can attack stuck-on stain on the glass, but it will not damage the glass. It loosens the grime and makes it easier to wipe off.
Frost-free windshield: Diluted vinegar keeps the windshield frost-free to prevent ice from forming on attaching, so you don’t have to de-ice the windscreen in the morning.
Polish chrome: Any chrome surface can get its shine back with the help of distilled white vinegar.
To remove hard water stains: A solution of equal parts water and vinegar can remove stubborn watermarks.
Clean vinyl upholstery: You can spray a vinegar solution on it and wipe it down with a microfiber cloth. However, do not let the DIY solution dry on the surface since it can damage vinyl.
Remove foul smells in a car: Leave a bowl of vinegar solution on the car’s floor overnight. It will remove any unwanted smell.
Remove chewing gum from carpeting: Soak the affected area with distilled vinegar to loosen the chewing gum.
Shine leather upholstery: You can use white, hot distilled vinegar to shine leather. However, it can leave it dry, so make sure to use a leather treatment product.
Besides Vinegar, What Liquids Damage Car Paint?
There are many vehicle paint enemies, which will surprise you. Here are some of the liquids that can damage car paint.
Coffee and soda: These drinks are acidic and can harm your car’s paint. They eat away at the protective layer, plus the sugar leaves a sticky residue. Wash your vehicle as soon as possible after a coffee or soda spill.
Egg: Eggs are often used as a prank. When eggs meet car paint, they can remove an entire layer. Again, it would be best to clean the area with car shampoo and water to remove the egg altogether.
Acetone: This is the main chemical in nail polish remover. If it were to spill on your vehicle, it could eat the paint down to the base within a few hours. Since it’s very corrosive, you should immediately use lots of soapy water to wash the acetone.
Brake Fluid: This vehicle fluid acts as a paint thinner, and it will soften the paint and make it easy to chip and lift from the vehicle’s surface.
Bird Droppings: It’s gross and acidic. You should wipe off bird poop as soon as you find it and wash the car as quickly as possible.
Tar: This sludgy liquid can melt in hot weather. When it dries on the vehicle’s paint, it will most likely chip it during removal.
Shaving Cream: Another prank favorite will corrode paint if not washed away. If it dries on the car paint, you may retouch it.
Rubbing Alcohol: This chemical is similar to vinegar in that it will damage your car’s paint when used without diluting it.
All-Purpose Cleaners: Most household, all-purpose cleaners are abrasive. While they may be good grease cleaners, they can scratch paint when you rub the cleanser.
As you’ve seen, vinegar can damage car paint when you leave it on for a long time or use it in high heat or direct sunlight. As such, it’s best to take proper precautions to prevent any etching that may occur after its use.
Still, you can use vinegar for other purposes to remove grime, fouls smells and even prevent ice formation.