How To Get WD-40 Off Car Paint – Shiny Facts

Ok, let’s get straight into it!

How do you get WD-40 off car paint?

WD-40 should be wiped off with a rag or rinsed with soapy water to remove. If this does not work, 99% isopropyl alcohol or a degreaser may be an option. WD-40 is unlikely to damage the paint but the smell may hang around if not cleaned properly.

I’ll run through the reasons why WD-40 is not the best paint cleaner and some potential issues with using WD-40 in this way. I’ll highlight some much more effective options that can be easily found online and will get your car paint looking good as new.

Does WD-40 Ruin Car Paint?

WD-40 is safe to use on car paint in the sense that it will not cause the paint to be damaged or peel off over time.

This does not mean that you want to go ahead and use WD-40 to fix any paint-related issues with your vehicle. WD-40 is more an oil, lubricant, and for rust prevention rather than fixing paint scratches.

However, it is important to note that the oils found in WD-40 are notorious for attracting dirt and grime. WD-40 leaves behind a film that allows debris to stick to it.

This means that the items you’re spraying WD-40 with can become dirtier than before you sprayed with WD-40. For moving parts like hinges or chains, WD-40 may cause them to get so gummed up that they no longer move after a short period of time.

Applying WD-40 to scratches in car paint may look like it repairs them. The paint will look shiny, and the scratches seem to be gone. That’s because WD-40 is petroleum-based meaning it has oil in it, this will accentuate the shine of the paint to cover the scratches. 

Even on close inspection, it looks like a repaired scratch. However, once you have some rain or wash the vehicle, all the scratches will be visible once more.

Does WD-40 Ruin Clearcoat?

WD-40 won’t strip the clearcoat off your vehicle. This doesn’t mean that you should be using WD-40 for paint cleaning or scratch repair.

Does WD-40 Remove Paint?

The actual ingredients and their concentrations in WD-40 are still unknown. However, the material data safety sheet for the product does point out that it is highly flammable but minimal harm to human health through casual ingestion via the fumes.

WD-40’s ingredients are listed on the material data sheet. This is one of the only ways we know that is inside WD-40.

The ingredients are disclosed for determining how safe the product is for the workplace. It is clear that it contains hydrocarbons, petroleum, and mineral oils. None of these, in particular, are going to remove paint even if left for a few hours.

Some success has been shown by combining products like WD-40 to remove overspray traces. Products like Mr. Clean Magic Eraser can be sprayed with WD-40 to help remove spray paint that gets onto car components like headlights when respraying a car.

The main issue with this method is that it requires a lot of WD-40 for even a small surface area. While this may work with smaller components, large patches of paint on the side of a vehicle from scraping along a pole or similar is better achieved via another product.

Check out this video that discusses scratches and WD-40

How To Remove WD-40 From Car Paint?

Once sprayed on, WD-40 excess can be wiped up with a rag. WD-40 will continue to release vapors for some time after first being sprayed. 

Confined spaces will not allow WD-40 to dissipate so easily. You should try and remove the object sprayed with WD-40 to a place where it can sit and evaporate. Do any sort of treatment like this with the car out of areas like garages and try and do it outside.

Other general cleaning methods will be effective in getting rid of WD-40. A mixture of white vinegar, water, and dish detergent can be used to rinse the vehicle if the WD-40 smell or substance is still detectable. 

If washing is not possible, leaving the object under cover but exposed to the elements. Sunlight, as well as the wind, can help remove most smells including that of WD-40.

WD-40 will leave behind a protective film that by design won’t evaporate after use. Degreasers and 99% isopropyl alcohol could be an option if you want to completely remove any traces of WD-40.

The WD-40 Material Safety Data Sheet recommends washing any WD-40 of a person using soap and water. Rinsing or wiping with soapy water should help remove WD-40 off your vehicle as well if the above remedy using vinegar is not able to be mixed up. 

Will WD-40 Get Spray Paint Off A Car?

WD-40 is not designed to remove paint from a vehicle.

Spraying WD-40 on car paint won’t damage it and may help remove paint transfer. Paint transfer is where your vehicle and another have hit, meaning you have scratches and part of their paint job on your vehicle.

While WD-40 left on such paint transfer may remove it, there are much better options.

Amazon sells the highly rated and easy to use Carfidant Scratch and Swirl Remover. This product will remove light scratches and other marks and comes with an included buffer pad for best results. 

In the end, although WD-40 is a highly flexible and versatile product, it is just not that good at large-scale paint removal. The amount of elbow grease and product required is just not a good use of your time or money.

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