How to Remove Spray Paint From Car – 2023 Updated Guide

People living in the urban cities of the USA are no strangers to spray painting vandalism. Sometimes it’s your house; most of the time, it’s your car.

But repainting your car isn’t as easy and cheap as repainting one of the walls.

So, how to remove spray paint from car?

You can remove spray paint from your car using a solvent like paint thinner or using household tools like a pressure washer. You can even buff out the area using cleaning wax and give your car a brand-new look.

Now let me show you how you can do all these on your own!

How to Remove Spray Paint from Car Body

Before we dive into the details, it’s crucial to understand what kind of damage you are dealing with.

If you have a small spray-painted area on your car and it’s relatively new, you can use the solvent method.

StepsRequired Time
Step 1: Cleaning30-40 minutes
Step 2: Apply Isopropyl Alcohol20-30 minutes
Step 3: Test Paint Thinner5-10 minutes
Step 4: Apply Paint Thinner1-2 hours
Step 5: Rinse and Dry10-15 minutes

Step 1: Cleaning

  • Get a mild car cleaning detergent and mix it with warm water.
  • This will help break down the dirt and grime.
  • Take a soft cloth or sponge and soak it into the solution.
  • Gently scrub the affected area.
  • After scrubbing, rinse the area thoroughly with clean water.
  • Make sure to wash away all the soap.
  • Allow the area to air dry.

Required Tools

  • Mild car cleaning detergent
  • Warm water
  • Soft cloth or sponge
  • Clean water

Step 2: Apply Isopropyl Alcohol

  • Take a clean towel and pour isopropyl alcohol on it.
  • Make sure it’s slightly damp with isopropyl alcohol.
  • Gently place the towel on the spray-painted area of your car.
  • Be sure to apply moderate pressure, like giving your car a gentle massage.
  • Rub back and forth using smooth motions.
  • Imagine you’re erasing the spray paint and want to do it gently but effectively.
  • As you continue, you’ll notice the spray paint particles starting to loosen up and come off.
  • Keep going until you see the spray paint is removed completely.
  • Never use acetone to remove the spray paint.

Required Tools

  • Clean towel
  • Isopropyl alcohol
Cleaning the spray-painted area

Step 3: Test Paint Thinner

  • Take a moment to be cautious and ensure the safety of your car’s paint.
  • Pour a small amount of paint thinner onto your towel, but don’t directly apply it to the car.
  • Sometimes, pain thinners can fade your car’s original paint and turn it yellowish.
  • Choose a less visible area on your car, like the mudguard.
  • This will be your test spot.
  • Gently rub the paint thinner-soaked towel on the test area.
  • Treat it gently, like you’re dabbing a spill with a napkin.
  • While doing this, keep a close eye on the test spot.
  • If you notice any damage or discoloration of the paint, stop immediately.

Required Tools

  • Paint thinner
  • Towel

Step 4: Apply Paint Thinner

  • Assuming your test on the mudguard went well, it’s time to use paint thinner on the spray-painted area.
  • Pour a small amount of paint thinner onto a clean section of your towel.
  • Be careful not to pour it directly onto the car, as it will damage the original paint.
  • Place the soaked towel on the spray-painted area of your car and start rubbing back and forth.
  • Apply moderate pressure; don’t rub too aggressively or too gently.
  • Pour some more paint thinner on the towel when it dries out.
  • As you keep rubbing, you’ll notice the spray paint is slowly breaking down and the paint residue accumulating on the towel.
  • Keep doing this until there are no visible spray paint marks on the car.
  • This step may take some time, so you have to be patient.

Required Tools

  • Paint thinner
  • Clean towel

Step 5: Rinse and Dry

  • Get the detergent solution you made for the first step.
  • Dip a soft sponge into the solution and start wiping the cleaned area.
  • This will remove any remaining solvent residue.
  • Once done, rinse the entire car with clean water.
  • Make sure all soap residue is completely gone.
  • Use a soft, clean cloth and wipe the car dry.

Required Tools

  • Mild car cleaning detergent
  • Soft sponge
  • Clean water
  • Soft, clean cloth

However, if you are dealing with a large spray-painted area and the paint is quite old, you must use the pressure washing method.

Using paint thinner to remove the spray paint
StepsRequired Time
Step 1: Choose the Right Attachment5 minutes
Step 2: Pressure Wash the Spray Paint30-50 minutes
Step 3: Use a Clay Bar Kit20-30 minutes
Step 4: Use Cleaner Wax5-15 minutes
Step 5: Dry Wipe5-10 minutes

Step 1: Choose the Right Attachment

  • Connect a thin 15-degree adapter to your pressure washer.
  • This attachment helps to keep the water pressure within a limited range.

Required Tools

  • Thin 15-degree adapter

Step 2: Pressure Wash the Spray Paint

  • Start your pressure washer and move it back and forth on the spray-painted area.
  • However, be careful not to get on the car’s original paint, as it can be damaged by water pressure.
  • As you do this, you will notice the spray paint starting to wear off.
  • Once the paint is washed off, you will end up with very small amounts of spray paint still on the car.

Required Tools

  • Pressure washer

Step 3: Use a Clay Bar Kit

  • We are going to use a clay bar kit for the remaining stubborn bits of spray paint.
  • First, break off a piece of the clay bar.
  • Knead the clay bar like a dough, making it pliable and ready for action.
  • Apply some detailer spray that came with the kit to the area with the remaining spray paint.
  • Start rubbing the clay bar over the affected area.
  • Keep at it until the bits of spray paint are completely gone.
  • Use moderate pressure while rubbing, as the detailer spray will break down the paint particles, not the force.
  • When one side of the clay becomes dirty, flip it over and keep going.
  • Once both sides of the clay bar are dirty, knead it again to reveal clean sections from the inside.
  • Keep spraying and rubbing until the whole area is free from spray paint in your eyes.
  • There might be some invisible scratches and yellowing, and we’ll take care of it in the next step.

Required Tools

  • Clay bar
  • Detailer spray
Using clay bar to remove spray paint particles

Step 4: Use Cleaner Wax

  • Now that the spray paint is mostly gone, let’s add some shine.
  • Get a liquid cleaner wax and pour some on an applicator pad.
  • Apply a thin layer of the cleaner wax in a round, gentle motion.
  • Think of it as giving your car a little pampering session.
  • After applying the wax, buff the area with a wax polishing cloth.
  • Your car will start to gleam with renewed beauty.

Required Tools

  • Liquid cleaner wax
  • Applicator pad
  • Wax polishing cloth

Step 5: Dry Wipe

  • Lastly, use a microfiber towel to give the area a final dry wipe.
  • This step will ensure there is no remaining wax clinging to the car’s body.

Required Tools

  • Microfiber towel

How to Remove Spray Paint from Car Window

Removing spray paint from your car window is much easier and more straightforward than removing it from the car’s body.

StepsRequired Time
Step 1: Lube the Paint5-10 minutes
Step 2: Scrape the Paint15-30 minutes
Step 3: Rinse and Dry10-20 minutes

Step 1: Lube the Paint

  • Find a detailer spray from your nearest hardware store.
  • Spray it generously on the painted area.
  • Let it sit for 5-10 minutes to soften the paint.

Required Tools

  • Detailer spray

Step 2: Scrape the Paint

  • If your car glasses aren’t tinted, use a plastic scraper.
  • But if you have tinted glasses, it’s best to use a plastic putty knife so the window film doesn’t get damaged.
  • Be gentle, as we don’t want to scratch your car window.
  • Start scraping the softened paint in a downward motion.
  • Think of it like you’re peeling an orange but more delicate.
  • Keep at it until the paint is gone.
  • If needed, apply more detailer spray to keep things smooth.

Required Tools

  • Plastic scraper or plastic putty knife

Step 3: Rinse and Dry

  • Rinse the window with clean water.
  • Use a paper towel to dry the area gently.

Required Tools

  • Clean water
  • Paper towel
Using cleaner wax to polish the car’s surface

Bottom Line

It’s important to use the proper accessories mentioned in this guide so that you don’t end up peeling off your car’s original paint.

The key to a proper spray paint cleaning is having patience. Don’t rush as you follow all the steps.

Taking your time to remove spray paint from your car always results in a flawless finish!


Can I use wd40 to remove spray paint from car?

Yes, you can use wd40 to remove spray paint from car as they work in the same manner as paint thinners.

Will vinegar remove spray paint from car?

Yes. However, it will work only if the spray paint is water-based and the stain is recent.

Is spray paint permanent on glass?

Even though most spray paints provide a permanent finish on glass, you can still scrape it off following the method we provided in this blog.