Does Acetone Remove Overspray?

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The short answer is yes. If you get overspray on your vehicle and do not catch it fast enough to clean it while it is still wet, you can use acetone. If you can wash to the overspray while it is still wet, you can do so easily with a soft damp cloth. However, while you are working, it is difficult to see where there is overspray. You commonly won’t notice until you are finished working. With overspray being a thin coating, it will dry quickly.

Acetone is the active ingredient in nail polish, among other products. It is a colorless liquid with a strong odor, also known as Propanone. It is used primarily in the manufacturing of industrial products, including plastic. Its ability to remove overspray is similar to its ability to remove nail polish. It breaks down the paint so that it can be wiped away with a soft cloth. The more overspray there is, the more work it will take to remove it with acetone.

Similarly to cleaning off nail polish, if the paint is thick or more than spots, the acetone will first cause the paint to smear as you wipe over it. The more you rub it in a circular motion, the more the paint will come loose and adhere to the cloth you are using. You cannot keep reusing the same fabric or the same area of the cloth because the paint on the fabric is loose and will continue to smudge on the surface of the vehicle.

While the smell is strong, it quickly evaporated, making it relatively safe to use. According to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, prolonged exposure to acetone can cause a sore throat and agitation, causing cough. It is essential to use it in a well-ventilated area.

It is important not to pour the acetone onto the vehicle or to scrub the areas of overspray. Doing either can damage the finish on the car. If it is a large area of overspray, removing it with acetone is going to be a time consuming and frustrating process. Some companies provide paint overspray removal services that can get the entire surface area cleaned and polished in a fraction of the time it would take you.

Acetone is most beneficial because it will not scratch the finish of your vehicle, and you do not need to scrub to get the paint off. You should not scrub as that is when you can cause damage. Acetone will also work on glass and plastic if the overspray is on your windows or mirrors.

Another benefit of acetone is that it is inexpensive. You do not have to spend a lot of money, and you do not need to use a lot. Although the amount you need will depend on the amount of overspray, a small amount of acetone will go along way in removing paint from your vehicle.

If you are concerned about the amount of overspray or the finish on your vehicle, it is best to take it to a professional to have it cleaned. Damaging the finish on your car can be highly expensive to fix and far more complicated than washing away paint overspray. Taking extra precautions is never a bad idea. 

Ideally, you can avoid getting overspray on your car’s finish by carefully prepping the vehicle before painting, ensuring that all areas you do not want to be painted are covered. However, that is not always possible, and accidents happen. The important thing is not to panic and know that you did not ruin your car’s finish.

Isla Leighton is the Founder & Editor behind Rock Salt Plum, a digital community curated to deliver an accessible yet sophisticated lifestyle standard. The inspiration behind the brand’s creative drive and style influence is mirrored in Isla’s day-to-day experiences and passion for beautiful design, personal growth, and elegant lifestyle content.

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