How to Remove Paint Splatter from Car Bodies

There are several reasons why you would need to know how to remove paint splatter from car parts. Perhaps you were only painting the wheel rims or touching up a few scratches and there was an accidental splash. Maybe the paint drops got on the doors accidentally while you were driving over newly-painted road lines. 

Luckily, there are a number of different methods for getting rid of this unwanted coloring. If you have the right products and tools, this is certainly a do-it-yourself project, so you won’t need pricey professional service.

At the same time, you need to understand the process for each method well because a mistake could further damage your car.

How to Remove Paint Splatter from Car
How to Remove Paint Splatter from Car

What to Do Before You Get Started

There are several steps to take before you get started removing the paint stains. These can help with safety and effectiveness.

  • Clean any dirt and dust off the area. This will allow the cleaning agent to fully penetrate the paint. 
  • Mark the paint drops with painter’s tape or packing tape. You want to use as little paint remover as possible to avoid damage to the car. Also, you don’t want to miss any paint stains and have to repeat the process a second time. 
  • Get the necessary safety gear. Some paint removal methods call for chemicals that will hurt if they touch your skin or if you inhale them. Gloves, a mask, and eye protection can help improve safety.
  • Make sure you have all the right tools. You do not want to use abrasive tools, which may scratch your car. A cloth or nylon brush are usually the best options, depending on the method.

Once you are ready, you can choose the best option for how to remove paint splatter from car parts. 

8 Effective Methods to Remove Paint Splatter from Car Bodies

You can choose how to remove paint stains based on the materials you have available, the location of the drops, and how much time you have. Here is a look at the different options. 

Method 1: Using Liquid Wax

Liquid wax can remove paint from metal surfaces, including car bodies. The best option for this job is liquid carnauba wax. 

Here are the materials that you need for this method. 

This method requires some scrubbing, but since you are using a cloth or sponge, it won’t damage the vehicle. Here are the steps for removing paint splatter with wax. 

  • Place the wax on the sponge or cloth. Be sure to use the correct amount as mentioned in the directions. 
  • Scrub the wax on the paint splatter in a circulation motion and continue until the paint isn’t visible anymore.
  • Leave the wax on the surface for about 10 to 15 minutes, then remove it. 

One of the attractions of carnauba wax is that it is not toxic, so it is safer to use than chemical-based options. 

Method 2: Using Acetone

Acetone is the main ingredient in many varieties of paint-removing products. You can use it on its own to handle paint splatter. 

Here are the materials necessary for this method. 

  • Acetone or an acetone-containing paint remover.
  • Gloves and eye protection.
  • A cloth or brush.

Acetone is a strong chemical, so make sure to wear safety gear. You can remove the paint using the following steps.

  • Put acetone on a cloth or sponge. 
  • Rub in on the spots. For larger areas, you can pour the acetone directly on the paint.
  • If the paint does not come off easily, you can apply more acetone and leave it for a few minutes before trying to rub the spots again. 

Make sure you wipe off the remaining acetone after use to avoid it damaging your car paint.

Method 3: Using Soap and Water

In some cases, a simple soap and water solution can remove paint. This is the easiest approach because you likely already have the necessary ingredients and tools at home. 

Here is what you need.

  • Soap or detergent. Specially-made car-washing detergent works best.
  • A bucket to mix the soap and water solution. 
  • Clean water.
  • A clean rag and sponge. 

You can start the process just as you would when washing your car. You can make the soap solution in the bucket as directed on the detergent bottle. 

When the soap and water solution is ready, you can start the process.

  • Soak the cloth or sponge in the soap solution. 
  • Scrub the paint splatter well.
  • If a cloth does not work, you can switch to a sponge. 
  • Continue scrubbing until the paint comes off. 

This solution works well if the paint isn’t completely dry. It may not work for enamels or paint that has been on the car for a long time. 

Method 4: Using Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover has the same ingredients as many paint removers, and many people have some around the house already. 

Here is what you need.

  • Nail polish remover.
  • A clean towel. Some people who use this method recommend a towel with natural fibers, like terrycloth. 
  • A second towel. 

This process works especially well for smaller spots. Here is the process. 

  • Put the nail polish remover directly on the cloth. Use enough to wet the cloth, but don’t soak it. 
  • Rub the wet cloth on the paint splatter. 
  • Rubbing in a circular motion may remove the paint right away. If not, continue the process. 
  • After the paint is gone, you need to wash the area to remove any nail polish remover residue. 

Most nail polish remover contains acetone, so you should not leave any on the car or it will damage your paintwork. 

Method 5: Using Gasoline

You can use gasoline to remove paint as long as you understand how to do so safely. Gas is relatively cheap and readily available, and it can work well on troublesome stains that won’t come off with other methods. Here’s what you need.

  • A clean rag that you don’t mind throwing away afterward. 
  • A small amount of gas. 

You don’t want to be near any heat or flame, since gas is (obviously) flammable. Once you follow this safety step, you are ready to start. 

  • Put a small amount of gasoline on the cloth. Don’t put it directly on the car. 
  • If you feel confident your car paintwork is safe, you can rub the gas directly on the splatter.
  • Continue rubbing until the unwanted paint comes off. 

When you are done, thoroughly wash the area that you treated with gas. 

Method 6: Using Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is a bit stronger than standard paint remover. It may work on especially stubborn stains. Here is what you need.

Lacquer thinner is very strong, so you need to follow safety procedures and wear gloves and eye protection. Once you are ready, here is what you should do.

  • Put a small amount of lacquer thinner on a cloth. 
  • Rub it directly on the paint splatter. 
  • It should come off quite easily with a small amount of rubbing. 

When you are done, immediately wash the treated area to remove any lacquer remover residue. 

Method 7: Using Detailing Clay

Detailing clay is a sticky substance. It is non-abrasive, and it may pull unwanted paint off the car. The main advantage is that you only need one tool for this method.

The method is also quite straightforward.

  • Take out the bar.
  • Rub it up and down or in a circular motion over the paint. 

It could be worth trying this specialty product if you do not want to work with chemicals. 

Method 8: Using Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another product you likely have around the house. It can remove some types of paint. Here is what you need.

  • Rubbing alcohol (also known as isopropyl alcohol).
  • A rag or cloth.

Here is the method for using rubbing alcohol to remove paint splatter. 

  • Put some alcohol on a cloth. 
  • Rub it on the unwanted paint. You can leave the alcohol there for a short while before beginning to scrub. 
  • The paint should soften and come off. 

Alcohol can damage your car’s clear coat, so you should wipe the area to remove any residue.

Get started removing paint splatter from your car

Now that you know how to remove paint splatter from car parts, you can get started on the project. You can try these methods based on what products and tools you have available to you. What if you have more paint on your car? You might want to consider some different methods if you need to remove spray paint from your vehicle. Some of the same products may work for spray paint, but the process could differ, so it’s best to research before starting. 


How do I get paint specks off my car?

You can remove paint drops from your car using different products that will soften, dissolve, or reconstitute the paint. After treating the specs, you usually need to wipe them away with a cloth or brush that won’t scratch your car. 

Will rubbing alcohol remove car paint?

Rubbing alcohol can remove paint. It works best on acrylic and latex paint. However, you want to be careful not to leave traces of the liquid on the car, because it could cause discoloration or damage. 

Can you use WD-40 to remove road paint from car parts?

WD-40 can soften road paint if you leave it on the stain for one hour or so. After the treatment, you should be able to wipe the unwanted paint away. 

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