Is Vinegar Bad for Car Paint? (My Best Take)

Vinegar is a very common household product. It is very commonly used for cleaning and cooking.

Acetic acid is the main ingredient of vinegar, and using its acidic properties, vinegar can easily remove dirt from the surface of various household items.

So is vinegar bad for car paint? It is a very common doubt. 

You can use it to clean some dirt, grime, and mineral deposits from your car’s surface. Vinegar can dissolve any type of minor stances from your car’s paint. But, for its acidic nature, it removes the layer of wax from the car’s surface.

On the other hand, if the water stances are too old, this standard household solution cannot clear it off.

Is vinegar bad for car paint


Is vinegar bad for car paint?

In short, vinegar can’t make a very bad impact on your car’s paint. Being acidic, it can remove the wax layer; but as it is a dilute acidic form, it can’t make any strong reaction with the car’s paint.

So if you have any emergency, you can try to dilute vinegar to remove the dirt from your car’s paint; you don’t need to overthink it. 

Vinegar is easily available in our house. So it can be easily accessible under any condition. Compared to other cleaning solutions, it is affordable and doesn’t cause serious damage to your car’s paint.

But removing the wax can ruin your car’s shiny finish. There are many cleaning compounds in the market that you can use for cleaning purposes, and most don’t remove the wax.

Various types of paint react differently with vinegar, so the reacting time can differ. The risk factor is very low, and your car’s paint can wear away in the worst case.

With some minor touch up, you can easily solve this issue. If your car’s paint accepts vinegar as a good cleaning agent, you can use it regularly for cleaning purposes. 

Can you use vinegar to clean the car exterior?

Vinegar is a very common cleaning solution used for cleaning most household items, and you can also use it to clean minor stains from your car’s paint.

Yes, you can apply vinegar to clean the exterior of your car. You can also use it in the inner plastic-made sections.

How to Clean car exterior with vinegar

To clean your exterior with vinegar, follow some simple steps. Follow these steps accordingly to get a great cleaning.

Clean car exterior with vinegar
  • Step 1: First of all, you need to make the cleaning solution. To make it take a large bowl and mix water and raw vinegar in a 2:1 ratio. Then steer the mixture for at least 2 minutes. 
  • Step 2: Now, take a spray bottle and pour this solution into it. 
  • Step 3: No, gently spray the solution to your car’s exterior. Apply the solution more to those sections where you locate a lot of dirt and water stains.
  • Step 4: Now, take a soft cloth. And gently rub the entire exterior. If you can arrange a micro-fibre cloth, that will be preferable. 

That’s it. It is as easy as that.

What is the easiest way to clean a car’s exterior?

Here we are mentioning the easiest way, following which you can easily clean your car’s exterior with household items at any time. First, wet the vehicle’s entire exterior properly with clean water. If you can, arrange and use a pressure washer.

Now, make the cleaning solution. If you are using a commercial cleaning agent, follow the instructions on the packaging. Or, if you are using a domestic item, mix it properly with water in a bowl and steer it properly.

What is the easiest way to clean a cars

Now take a clean microfiber cloth, dip it into the cleaning solution, and start cleaning the car. After cleaning a specific area, rinse it with clean water. Leave the car for at least one and a half hours to dry.

Or, if you are in a hurry, take a clean microfiber cloth and rub the entire exterior smoothly. Don’t use regular cloth or towel here, because these will leave swirl marks.

What household items can I use to clean the outside of my car?

There are many household items that you can easily use to clean the exterior of your car. These items will not affect your car’s paint, so you can use them for regular cleaning.

What household items can I use to clean the outside of my car


If you don’t find soap or shampoo in your house, you can easily use vinegar as a cleaning agent. It is safe and very effective on minor stances. But you don’t need to apply it to your car’s paint. First, you need to dilute it.

You need to mix clean water and vinegar in a 2:1 ratio. If your car has a very shiny finish, you can make it 3:1. Then gently apply this mixture to your car’s paint and see a magical and speedy cleaning. But vinegar will remove the wax from your paint.


There are separate car wash shampoos in the market. But if you don’t have easy access to them, you can easily use regular hair shampoo to clean your car’s exterior. It effectively cleans strong dirt and grime from the car’s exterior. But while using it, you don’t allow the shampoo to sit on the paint for a long time; you need to rinse it off with water as early as possible. 

Baking Soda

Baking soda is another item that can be used for cleaning a car’s body. It is also very effective; unlike vinegar, it doesn’t affect the gloss of your car’s exterior. It doesn’t affect the clear coat or wax layer.

The process of applying it is almost the same as that of vinegar. Baking soda is very effective on molds and strong dirt. To make a good effective mixture, you must mix water and baking soda in a 2:1 ratio.


You can also use regular detergents for the same purpose. But different detergents have different chemical compounds and react differently with the paint. So just like soap, you need to rinse it off with water as soon as possible.


You can also use liquid hand wash for cleaning your car’s outer sections. It generates dense foams and doesn’t affect your car’s paint. It is as effective as shampoo.

Rubbing Alcohol

Never apply any rubbing alcohol to the exterior paint of your car. It is suitable for cleaning the windscreen, wipers, and other glass-made sections. To apply it, pour 10 to 12 drops of it on the windshield and turn on the wipers. It will cut off all the road grimes and dirt inside the wipers’ gutters.


Toothpaste is a very effective cleaning agent for the headlight area. After cleaning the headlight with toothpaste, you notice that it will shine as if it were new. But having a strong compound, you can’t use it on the other sections of the vehicle. 

How can I clean the outside of my car without water?

Many times we don’t have an ample supply of water to clean our car. In such cases, everyone searches for such a solution when no water needs to be used.

A waterless car wash cleaner is the only solution for them. These cleaning solutions are easily available in stores.

How can I clean the outside of my car without water

Applying these cleaning solutions doesn’t need to use a single drop of water. We are mentioning the steps, following which you can easily apply them to your car. First, you need to mist one section of the car’s exterior body. And you need to start it from the vehicle’s roof and gently move downward. 

Now take a micro-fibre cloth or towel and wipe each section of the car. You must use the clean section of the towel every time you shift to another new section of the car.

If you use a dirty microfiber cloth, then it can make scratches on your paint. At last, you need to wipe the entire body of your car with a fresh microfiber and remove all the dirt and moisture, if any is left. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does vinegar harm the clear coat?

Yes, in general, vinegar dilutes the wax layer instantly. But if you leave vinegar for 10 to 15 minutes on your car’s paint, then the clear coat of your paint can get damaged.

What liquids damage car paint?

Many elements can damage your car’s paint; we are mentioning some of them, which are very common. Soda, coffee, egg, tar, acetone (nail polish remover), shaving cream, and bird poop are very common things that can easily damage your car’s paint.

Does vinegar dissolve paint?

Although vinegar is acidic, it can still not make any strong reaction with the cars’ paint. It can hardly damage the clear coat. But, it removes wax instantly. If you are very concerned about the glossy finish of your car, then don’t use vinegar as a cleaning agent.

What should you not clean your car with?

You should never use sticky glass cleaner, dishwasher, nail polish remover, or rough towel on your car. If you are not used to using a pressure washer, avoid it.


Everyone loves to keep his car as shiny as new. But practically it is not always possible to visit commercial places every time. By using vinegar, one can easily clean his car anytime; it is very effective.

But if you own a luxurious premium model, it is good to use a specific commercial product. Others can easily use vinegar as a cleaning agent regularly.

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