What to Use to Clean Surface before Painting Car? Our Advice

If you want to freshen up your car and give it a brand-new look, applying a fresh coat of paint to it is usually the best solution. However, it can get quite expensive if you take your car to an auto shop to get a paint job. That’s why a lot of car owners often try their hands at painting their cars.

But keep in mind that this is not as simple as it sounds. You need a lot of patience and the necessary amount of knowledge if you want your car to look good in the end. The problem though is that a lot of people don’t know how to properly clean the surface of the car when it’s time to start applying paint to it.

If you want the paint job on your car to look immaculate, you need to understand that cleaning the surface of the car properly contributes greatly to the result. To do this, you will need a couple of items. These are:

  • Wax/Grease Remover
  • Tack Rag
  • Lint-Free Cloth

When it comes to painting your car, there are plenty of things that you need to know. But don’t worry as this article will answer all the burning questions you have in mind. So make sure to stick around until the end so that you can pick up a few tips and tricks for the next time you plan on changing the outside appearance of your car.

What Products To Use When Cleaning The Surface Of A Car Before Painting?

As mentioned earlier, there are three things that you will need if you want the paint on your car to look shiny and smooth in the end. The first of these items is the wax and grease remover.

This product will help remove any contaminants on the surface of the car, like tar, road grime, fingerprints, and of course, wax and grease. There are plenty of commercial products online to choose from. Doing this allows the paint to adhere much better to the surface of the car.

To apply this onto the surface of the car, dip a portion of the clean lint-free cloth into the solvent, and using that, wipe a small section of the car’s surface with it. Then, use another piece of clean lint-free cloth to remove the solvent from the surface of the car, along with all the grime. Take note to not let the solvent dry on the surface of the car before you have a chance to wipe it off.

Repeat this until you cover every section of the car where you want to apply paint. Then, grab a tack rag to wipe the entire surface of the car afterward.

This type of cloth has a special sticky substance that allows it to pick up any dust or dirt left behind on the surface of the car. It can also remove any pieces of hair left behind on the surface during the time you were wiping the car clean from any grease, wax, and grime.

Can Rubbing Alcohol Effectively Act As A Wax/Grease Remover?

If you don’t have any wax and grease remover lying around at home or you simply don’t want to buy such products, then there’s another viable option that you can try. And that option is to use rubbing alcohol to help remove the wax and grease from the surface of the car.

Many long-time car owners who have experience when it comes to painting their cars can testify that using rubbing alcohol can give you the same results as a commercial solvent. The only difference is that you first need to prepare the alcohol.

What this means is that you need to dilute the alcohol to a level where it won’t cause harm to the surface of the car. Failure to do so can lead to discoloration when applying the new coat of paint to your car.

The recommended dilution percentage to use is between 10% and 15%. If you want to make a solution at home, prepare a quarter-sized container and pour in the correct percentage of rubbing alcohol before filling up the rest with water. Give it a good stir before applying the solution to the surface of the car.

Normally, a solution with only 10% alcohol is more than enough. If you’re dealing with a thick layer of wax, then you can bump it up little by little until you’re able to remove all the wax and grease from the surface of the car.

Additionally, don’t use this method under direct sunlight. This is to prevent the alcohol from drying too quickly and leaving behind an ugly discoloration on the surface of the car.

Can Rubbing Alcohol Dissolve The Car Paint?

No matter how strong the alcohol is, it can’t dissolve and liquify your car’s paint. Nowadays, car paints can withstand even the harshest of conditions of any environment. As such, a few drops of strong alcohol is not enough to eat through the coating of paint of your car.

However, that doesn’t mean there are no consequences when exposing your car to a strong percentage of rubbing alcohol. The most likely scenario is that the affected area will suffer from slight discoloration and become more prone to scratches.

Can You Use Rubbing Alcohol To Clean Other Parts Of The Car?

Now that you know just how useful a diluted solution of rubbing alcohol can be as a cleaner, you’re probably thinking of what other ways you can use rubbing alcohol.

Haze and water spots are two annoying problems that a lot of car windows and windshields suffer from. But with the use of a diluted rubbing alcohol solution, you can wipe away all those problems with the help of a little elbow grease.

Another area where you can use your diluted rubbing alcohol solution is the headlights. Over time, the surface of these becomes hazy, thereby dimming the lights that shine through it.

With the use of sandpaper, you can make those headlights shine brightly once again. And after sanding, this is where the rubbing alcohol solution comes in. With the use of a clean piece of cloth dipped into the solution, wipe off the dust produced from sanding.

What To Do If You Accidentally Spill Alcohol On The Surface Of The Car?

Immediately grab a microfiber cloth to soak up the spilled alcohol. Be careful not to wipe the cloth to prevent the alcohol from spreading further.

Next, grab a cleaning solution and a sponge to wash the affected area. Doing this helps further remove any traces of rubbing alcohol left behind.

What Product To Use To Prevent Scratches On The Newly Painted Car?

If you want your car’s paint to last for a long time, understanding how to clean and take care of it goes a long way. As such, you need to use a clay bar each time you wash your car if you want to achieve the best result.

A clay bar acts like some sort of magnet, pulling away all the small contaminants on the surface of the car. Doing this helps prevent any unwanted scratches from appearing on the surface of the car and helps prepare it for a layer of wax. For better results, you can use a clay lubricant to help loosen up the contaminants that hide away in the smallest gaps and corners on the surface of the car.

Do this every time you plan on applying wax to your car. At a minimum, that means twice every year.


Applying a fresh new coat of paint to the car by yourself will help save you money. However, it’s not a simple task that you can just breeze through on a weekend afternoon. It takes time, patience, and a lot of practice to achieve the perfect paint job.

To help you on that journey, you must never forget to clean the surface of the car before painting. Doing this allows you a clean and smooth surface to work with, free from any contaminants that can ruin the outcome of the paint. In addition to that, it also helps the paint adhere better to the surface of the car.