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Can Vinegar Hurt Car Paint? Answered


Vinegar has numerous applications in our daily life. It’s famous for cooking, laundry, cleaning, and baking. Moreover, many car freaks are also using vinegar as a cleaning agent and a disinfectant. So if you also want to try that, first learn can vinegar hurt car paint or not.

Due to its acidic nature, car experts don’t recommend using vinegar. It affects the paint’s top layer and makes the car paint look drab with the passage of time. Moreover, if you are using vinegar in its purest form, it might not provide enough lubrication and will damage your hands as well.

Therefore, let’s learn more about the harmful effects of vinegar on car paint.

Using Vinegar For Car Cleaning

Typically, white vinegar is used for cleaning purposes. That refers to daily household cleanings like tiles and faucets. Moreover, you can find it in the ingredients section of the product. This kind of vinegar has a PH value of 2.5.

Car Cleaning

What’s the PH value?

PH Value

“Potential of Hydrogen” or pH determines the nature of an aqueous solution. The value of pH tells us whether a solution is acidic, basic, or neutral.

pH ValueExampleNature of Solution
0-3Battery Acid, Sulfuric Acid, Lemon Juice, VinegarAcidic
4Acid Rain, Acidic Lake, Fish Die at 4.2 pHAcidic
5Bananas, Clean RainAcidic
6Healthy Lake, Milk (6.5 – 6.8)Almost Neutral at 6.5 – 6.8
7Pure WaterNeutral
8-10Sea Water, Eggs, Milk of MagnesiaBasic
11 – 14Ammonia, Soap Water, Bleach, Liquid Drain CleanerBasic

As the pH value decreases, the solution becomes more acidic. That’s why the acidic nature of pure vinegar can easily etch car paint.

Therefore, it’s not wise to use a highly acidic solution just to make your car look shinier.

Besides, spraying the vinegar solution on your car and leaving it in the sun will catalyze the etching process.

So should you avoid using the vinegar at all just because it makes a mess of car paint? Maybe not!

Use Diluted Vinegar for Your Car

Vinegar has been a useful ingredient to clean off stubborn oil marks from most types of surfaces. It also works well to wash away greasy spots easily. Therefore, you can still use vinegar but in diluted form to keep your car clean without affecting the paint.

When you make the vinegar diluted or, in simple terms, when you mix it with water, it loses its acidic nature. As a result, you can use it for car cleaning without any worry.

This solution is known as sour rinse because of its taste in organic and processed form.

Now, many automobile experts give a positive response to using diluted vinegar to wash stubborn greasy spots that don’t go away with ordinary car wash soap.

However, vinegar in its diluted form can still harm the car paint because it’s still acidic in nature. Mixing it with water only increased its pH, which is still harmful to the car’s clear coat.

Clear-Coat of Car Paint

It’s the outermost layer you put on after painting your car. The clear coat is usually transparent and plays an important role in protecting car paint from extreme temperature and UV radiation.

When you apply diluted vinegar to your car for cleaning, it might not etch the paint, but it will surely damage the clear coat.

Therefore, you have to be vigilant while making the sour rinse solution.

You can use the following measurement to make this solution:

  • Use the ratio of 3:1 for car cleaning and apply it sparingly to your car for the best result.

How Vinegar Cleans Your Car?

If you don’t know, those dry spots on your car are because of hard water. This type of water contains calcium and magnesium, and they are stubborn in nature. When you wash your car with hard water, these minerals stick to the surface and don’t leave easily.

Moreover, hard water struggles to form lather because of these minerals. So, what are you going to do?

Switching to soft water is an option. However, not everyone has access to soft water. Therefore, use vinegar as one of the easiest alternatives to clean your car.

Spray a solution that contains vinegar and gently rub the surface using a microfiber cloth. It will absorb the minerals deposits that were left by hard water.

After that, you will see your car shining without any dry spots. That’s the bright side of using vinegar as a car cleaning agent.

Have a look at Foaming Car Wash Soap.

However, using vinegar continuously can damage the car paint. That’s why people avoid using vinegar to clean their cars.

Alternative to Vinegar

Of course, it’s better not to take risks if you are doubtful about what percentage of vinegar is present inside the solution you are using for cleaning your car.

In that case, you can go for an alternate option which is a SHINE ARMOR Car Wax & Polish, which adds another protective layer to your car.

Moreover, the car wax makes your car shiny and eliminates the dry spots as well.

Once you wax your car, you can then apply vinegar through a spray for additional protection.

But beware not to use too much vinegar after waxing because it will remove the wax if you spray vinegar in extra quantity.

When to Apply Vinegar Solution?

If you want to remove the dry spots from your car, first wash it and dry it completely. After that, gently apply the vinegar solution.

If your car still has some water on its surface, it might carry the vinegar to unwanted places.


Besides, you can prepare the solution on your own by following this mixture:

  • One full cup of water
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • Put the solution in a spray bottle
  • Gently shake it to properly mix the solution

After that, spray the solution where you deem necessary.

Final Words

Vinegar is a fine ingredient to clean stubborn greasy and dry spots from the car. You can use it in dilute form for the best results. Moreover, it’s recommended to wash your car with a vinegar-based solution inside a garage so that the sun rays don’t react with the acidic nature and damage the car paint.

Therefore, carefully prepare the vinegar car cleaning solution so that your car can become shinier than ever before.

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