Will Mineral Spirits Damage Car Paint? (No, It Truly Won’t)

Mineral spirits are one of the derivatives of petroleum. Being colorless and having a low odor in its most refined form, it serves as a mild solvent and paints thinner.

But, will mineral spirits damage car paint?

Honestly speaking, mineral spirit is a strong cleaner but won’t damage the car’s paint easily. Yet, you must be cautious while using them to clean your car’s exterior. Using them in small proportions and avoiding contact with hot surfaces will make them safer. Moreover, applying them with a lubricant will prevent your car’s paint from getting damaged.

Will mineral spirits damage car paint


Will mineral spirits damage car paint?

There’s no harm in using mineral spirits on car paints. However, frequent and extreme usage may result in damaging the clear coat. When this coating, which serves as a protective covering for your car’s color coat, becomes weaker, scratches on the surface may occur, resulting in paint damage. Therefore, you must use them with extra caution.

You can use mineral spirits to remove the stains from your car’s paint. However, experts recommend not making a habit of it. Mineral spirits should only be used on occasion and only when necessary. Use mineral spirits exclusively when the outer covering has thick stains.

Will mineral spirits damage car paint (detail explanation)

Solvent properties of mineral spirits

A mineral spirit has a boiling point of 149 degrees F and dries at approximately 156 degrees F. It has a mass of 0.7 g/cc. It is mainly an aliphatic solvent, hexane, with a maximum content of aromatic hydrocarbons of 0.1% by volume and a kauri-butanol value of 29.

Potential damage to clear coat

Mineral spirits can damage the protective clear coat on your car’s paint. In addition, to removing waxes and sealants, the clear coat also weakens when mineral spirits are used on it. Mineral oils may also damage ceramic coatings.

Interaction with paint additives

Mineral spirits can damage the paint if it is water-based. However, it will work fine on an oil-based paint as it thins the paint and removes any stains or grease from the paint. 

What kind of paint will mineral spirits remove?

Mineral spirits can dissolve oil-based paints. It will, however, work better with wet paint than dried paint. Use acetone if the paint is dry. Wet paint can be effortlessly removed with mineral spirits.

A dried one bonds with the surface and other compounds, which makes it difficult for just mineral oils to remove. That’s why using acetone is recommended.

What should you not use mineral spirits on?

If you plan to use mineral spirits to remove stains and clean your car’s paint, don’t use mineral spirits when the following conditions exist,

What should you not use mineral spirits on
  • When the paint is in a damaged condition: If your car’s paint is already damaged, such as cracking or chipping, or peeling off, using mineral spirits may further escalate the disaster.
  • If the paint is incorrectly sealed: If the paint isn’t sealed correctly, the mineral spirits may permeate the paint to cause further damage.

What will damage car paint instantly?

A few solvents like brake fluid, lacquer thinner, acetone, rubbing alcohol, fuel, etc. will damage the car paint instantly. Other materials that can damage your car’s paint overnight are beverages like coffee and soda, bird droppings, silly string, shaving cream, ashes, shoe polish, tar, and salt. 

What not to clean your car with?

Avoid using domestic cleaning agents, such as hand soap, dishwasher detergent, or glass cleaner, to clean your car. These materials aren’t prepared to be used on a car’s paint. You may end up weakening the clear coat and rinsing off the protective wax coating.

How do I clean my car without damaging the paint?

Cleaning our car is an enjoyable and fulfilling experience. The majority of car owners enjoy cleaning their vehicles on their own. Let’s understand how you can clean your car without damaging the paint.

How do I clean my car without damaging the paint

Keep microfiber towels ready

Many people prefer microfiber because it is gentle on the surface of their vehicles. Microfiber towels are recommended because they catch and retain the cleaning solvent, preventing it from interacting with the paint.

Keep microfiber towels ready

It saves a lot of money because less interaction between solvents and the car’s paint means less damage. Don’t limit yourself to one or two microfiber towels. Be ready with four or five or more based on the car’s size and the degree of dirtiness.

Move under a shade

Take your car under a shade, preferably a cool area. Because any cleaning done under the sun will cause the solvent to evaporate quickly. It will be a double loss: 1. Cleaning won’t be effective due to the remnants of the solvents. 2. You may have to use more solvent than required, as more of it evaporates.


  • Soak the microfiber towels in mineral spirits.
  • Place the cloth over the area of car paint that needs to be cleaned and allow it to stay there for 5 mins.
  • Keeping the towel on the spot will allow the tough stains to break and loosen up.
  • Start rubbing the stained spot using the towel. Ensure you rub it in a circular motion. It allows you to get rid of tough stains.
  • Once the spot is stain free, immediately wash that area with soap water (car paint compliant). A delayed wash may help the spirit to dry onto the paint, causing damage eventually.
  • Once dried completely, clean off that area using a fresh microfiber tower.
  • You can coat the cleaned spots with wax for extra coat protection. You can choose to clean the car thoroughly before applying the wax.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do mineral spirits remove the finish?

Yes. Mineral spirits can remove the finish if used excessively and frequently. Even when used infrequently, mineral spirits must be used with caution, and the area where the spirits were used should be immediately cleaned with soap and water to avoid any interaction between the mineral spirits and the car paint.

Will mineral spirits harm clear coat?

Yes, mineral spirits can harm clear coat, making a way for other liquids to penetrate the inner layers of the paint and damage it further.

Does white spirit damage car paint?

White spirits must be used sparingly. If they are used more than is required, they may damage the car’s paint.


You want your car to look nice, free of dust and debris, shining and polished like the day you bought it from the dealership. You may be working hard to achieve this goal of keeping it clean and tidy at all times. Mineral spirits can often be used to readily remove tough stains.

However, mineral spirits need to be used in a limited way. Using them frequently and more than required may damage the clear coat, eventually damaging your car’s paint.

Any spot where you used mineral spirits to remove the stain, must be immediately washed with water to prevent the spirits from interacting with the inner paint.

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