What Products Ruin Car Paint?


When cleaning your car, performing maintenance, or doing repairs under the hood, there are certain products you'll want to be sure don't make contact with your vehicle's paint. Many cleaning compounds and automotive fluids can ruin car paint. Most commercial cleaners are not suitable for car washing. Automotive fluids spilled on paint should also be wiped up immediately.

Rubbing Compounds

  • People might be tempted to try commercial rubbing compounds for buffing away small scratches, but some contain gritty material that can ruin car paint. A fine polishing compound is a better bet.

Commercial Cleaners

  • Dishwashing liquid and most other commercial cleaners are best avoided for washing cars. They cut through wax and can fade paint. Vegetable oil cleaners such as Murphy Oil Soap are easy on automotive paint.


  • If you accidentally dribble gasoline onto the side of the car from the pump, be sure to wipe the area clean with a wet paper towel or cloth.

Brake Fluid

  • Brake and clutch fluid are other culprits that can ruin car paint. If it is spilled onto the exterior, it should be cleaned away immediately.

Scouring Pads

  • Although it might be tempting to try a scouring pad of any sort on small areas that have sap or tar, this will probably scratch the paint.

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