How to Remove Spray Paint from Car

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The exterior of a vehicle is the first thing anyone looks at to judge the vehicle. That’s why keeping it clean and free of any blemishes is important. Unfortunately, sometimes accidents happen, and your car may end up with spray paint on it. Learn how to remove spray paint from a car.

Perhaps someone accidentally dropped some on your car, or maybe you were the victim of vandalism or drove too close to a construction or renovation project.

Whatever the case may be, you’ll want to remove the spray paint as soon as possible. The longer it sits on your car, the harder it will be to remove. Luckily, there are a few methods you can use to get rid of spray.

Normally this means having to pay through the nose to have a professional come and remove the paint for you. However, there are ways that you can remove spray paint from your car on your own. All you need is some elbow grease and the right products; you can get your car looking like new again in no time. Here are a few tips on how to remove spray paint from your car:

How to Remove Spray Paint From Car – 6 Easy Ways!

Guy sanding the car - How to Remove Spray Paint from Car
How to Remove Spray Paint from Car

Estimated Time Needed: Roughly 1 to 2 days
Skill Level: Moderately Easy
Vehicle Administration: Exterior


Certain cleaners/solvents can damage the paint on your car. Always test in a small, inconspicuous area first to ensure there is no adverse reaction.

Spray Paint Removal Safety

Now before we go any further, we just want to quickly touch on safety. Paint removal products can be extremely toxic and dangerous if not used properly. Ensure you always follow the instructions on the label and take proper safety precautions. This includes wearing gloves, eye protection, and a respirator mask if possible.

You should also work in a well-ventilated area, such as outside or in a garage with open doors. And, of course, make sure you’re not working near any open flames. Now that we’ve got that out of the way let’s get started!

1. Soap and Water

Materials Needed

Mrs. Meyer's Liquid Dish Soap, Biodegradable Formula, Lemon Verbena, 16 fl. oz - Pack of 3

Mild dish soap

Seachoice 5-Gallon Plastic Bucket w/Metal Handle, Yellow

Water & Bucket

Utopia Towels Cotton Washcloths Set - 100% Ring Spun Cotton, Premium Quality Flannel Face Cloths, Highly Absorbent and Soft Feel Fingertip Towels (24 Pack, Grey)

Sponge or washcloth

LOOHUU Expandable Garden Hose 100ft, Water Hose with 10 Function Nozzle, Lightweight Flexible Hose with 3/4 Inch Solid Brass Fittings and 3-Layer Latex Core

Step 1: Check how fresh the spray paint is

The first step is to determine how fresh the spray paint is. If it’s still wet, then you can skip ahead to the next section. However, if the paint has already dried, you’ll need to use more elbow grease.

Step 2: Gather your supplies

For this method, you’ll need some mild dish soap, water, and a sponge or washcloth. If you don’t have a hose handy, you can just use a bucket of water instead.

Step 3: Wash the spray paint with soap

Start by wetting down the area with spray paint. Then, apply some soap to your sponge or washcloth and start scrubbing at the paint. Continue scrubbing until all of the paint has been removed.

Step 4: Rinse the area

Once you’ve removed all of the paint, rinse the area with water to remove any soap residue. Repeat steps 3-4 if necessary.

2. Non-acetone Nail Polish Remover

Materials Needed

Amazon Basics 2 Ply Paper Towel - Flex-Sheets - 12 Value Rolls (Previously Solimo)

Paper towels

Non Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Non-acetone nail polish remover

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths, Non-Abrasive, Reusable and Washable - Pack of 24, 12 x16-Inch, Blue, White and Yellow

Clean cloth or pads

Step 1: Dab the nail polish remover on a cloth

This method only works with non-acetone nail polish remover, so ensure you have the right kind before getting started. Once you have the nail polish remover, soak a clean cloth or pad in it, and then start dabbing at the paint.

Step 2: Continue until all paint is gone

Keep dabbing and scrubbing at the paint until it’s all gone. Once you’re finished, use a paper towel to remove any leftover residue.

Step 3: Wash the area

As with the soap and water method, you may want to wash the area with soap and water to remove any leftover nail polish remover.

3. Lacquer Thinner 

Materials Needed

Klean-Strip GML170 LACQUER THINNER - Pack of 1

Lacquer thinner

MR.SIGA Microfiber Cleaning Cloth,Pack of 12,Size:12.6" x 12.6"

Clean cloth or pads

Step 1: Apply the thinner

Once you have the thinner, soak a clean cloth or pad in it, and then start dabbing at the paint. Use the motion you would use to apply a wax. Start with a small amount to manage the potential risks to your vehicle’s paint.

Step 2: Remove the spray paint

Continue and repeat with more vigor if the need is until all of the paint has been removed from the area. 

4. Rubbing Compound

Materials Needed

No.7 Heavy Duty Rubbing Compound - 10 Fl Oz - Cleans and Restores - Removes Deep Scratches and Stains - Restores Shine to Dull Finishes

Rubbing compound

Fish Scale Streak Free Miracle Cleaning Cloth Easy Clean Nanoscale,Microfiber Window Mirror Glass Car Stainless Steel Cleaning Cloth,Lint Free Dish cloth Wine Glass Polishing Towel,Reusable,Pack 6,Mix

Clean cloth or pads

Meguiar's G200924 Ultimate Quik Wax, 24 Fluid Ounces


Step 1: Apply rubbing compound to a cloth

This method will require a little more elbow grease, but it’s definitely handier for more stubborn paint. Start by applying some rubbing compound to a clean cloth or pad.

Step 2: Remove all spray paint

Then, begin scrubbing at the paint until it’s all removed. You may need to use a little more compound for tougher areas. Be careful to ensure the original paint isn’t harmed in the process.

5. Gasoline

Materials Needed

Quick-Flow Spout Midwest Can 5610 Auto Shut Off Gasoline Can - 5 Gallon


AIDEA Microfiber Cleaning Cloths-50PK, All-Purpose Softer Highly Absorbent, Lint Free - Streak Free Wash Cloth for House, Kitchen, Car, Window, Gifts(12in.x 12in.)

Clean cloth or pads

Rubbermaid Commercial Products 2.5 Gallon Brute Heavy-Duty, Corrosive-Resistant, Round Bucket, Red FG296300RED


Step 1: Apply gasoline to a cloth

This is probably the most dangerous method on this list, so ensure you take proper safety precautions. First, apply some gasoline to a clean cloth or pad.

Step 2: Wash the area

Leave the gasoline on the affected area for a few minutes before washing it off with soap and water. You may need to repeat this process a few times to remove all of the paint.

6. Clay Bar

Materials Needed

Chemical Guys CLY_113 OG Clay Bar & Lubber Synthetic Lubricant Kit, Light/Medium Duty (16 oz) (2 Items) , Yellow

Clay Bar Kit

Step 1: Mold the clay

Start by molding the clay into a ball. The size of the ball will depend on how big the area you’re trying to clean is.

Step 2: Apply the lubricant

Next, apply the clay bar lubricant to the area you’re trying to clean. This will help the clay slide across the surface more easily.

Step 3: Clay the car

Once the lubricant has been applied, start running the clay bar over the surface. You’ll want to use a back-and-forth motion and apply a moderate amount of pressure. Continue until the paint has been removed.

Step 4: Wipe off the car

Once you’re finished, use a clean cloth to wipe off the car and remove any residue.

Step 5: Wax the car

To help protect the paint, you’ll want to wax the car after using the clay bar. This will help fill in any scratches or imperfections and make the paint shine.

Pro Tips to Remove Spray Paint from A Car

Should the above methods have little effect or aren’t working as quickly as you’d like, there are a few pro tips you can try to speed up the process. Just remember to take extra safety precautions when using these more powerful methods.

1. Use a Heat Gun

A heat gun can help to loosen the paint and make it easier to remove. Just be careful not to overheat the area as this could damage your car’s paint job.

2. Use a Pressure Washer

If you have access to a pressure washer, you can use this to blast away the spray paint. Just be sure to hold the nozzle at least 12 inches away from your car’s surface to avoid damaging it.

3. Use Automotive Paint Stripper

This is a more powerful method that should only be used as a last resort. Apply the stripper according to the instructions on the label, and then use a putty knife or other scraping tool to remove the paint. Wash the area afterward with soap and water.

4. Hire a Professional

If you’re not confident in your ability to remove the spray paint yourself, or if none of the above methods are working, you can always hire a professional to do it for you. This will likely be the most expensive option, but it will also give you peace of mind knowing that the job will be done right.


Removing spray paint from your car can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, but in most cases, it’s not impossible. With a little patience and the right products, you can get your car looking like new again.

Always take proper safety precautions and work in a well-ventilated area. Just be patient and take your time. And if all else fails, you can always hire a professional to do it for you.

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