Vinegar On Car Paint: Can You Use It?

Vinegar performs numerous tasks in our daily lives. Uses for this substance include skincare, cooking, cleaning, and laundry. Automobile enthusiasts have been adding vinegar as an ingredient more and more.

Most car owners use it for cleaning as they disinfect automobiles and eliminate watermarks from interior and exterior surfaces. As a general guideline, always verify the ingredients before using any substance on your car. The paint on your vehicle is one of its most vulnerable parts. It is, therefore, most likely to come into contact with these objects.

Can You Use Vinegar on Car Paint?

It would help if you didn’t use vinegar for automotive paint as a remedy. White vinegar, in particular, has features that make it good at removing stuck-on grease from kitchen surfaces and filth from showerheads, but these same qualities can also harm your car’s paint job, which can be very expensive. But it would be best if you didn’t use vinegar to clean your vehicle’s paint.

Because of the acidic nature of vinegar, the transparent layer may eventually become degraded, giving the surface a dull appearance. When used for handwashing a car, vinegar will cause scratches since it offers less lubrication than car shampoo or quick detailer.

The most damage to the paint will be done if vinegar is left on your car in the sun. If this is the case, the water in the vinegar evaporates, leaving only the acid, which will eat away at the paint much more quickly when exposed to warm sunlight.

This issue might seem minor initially because the vinegar solution will be removed if you thoroughly rinse your car after a hand wash. You’ll be okay if you don’t leave the vinegar solution on the vehicle.

Vinegar on a small container.

Wrong! Using a homemade vinegar solution instead of a car wash or a quick detailer may damage the paint if any human force is applied, in addition to what would happen if the color were left to dry. Major problem is lubrication. To avoid the clear coat from getting scratched while washing your car, you must use shampoo or a detailer with a very high level of lubrication.

If you use a non-lubricating solution to wash your car, the dirt will act like sandpaper on your mitt. Your vehicle will have dull spots and flaws that require time and work once the dirt has been removed and you’ve sanded away some of the clear finish.

The same logic applies when using vinegar as a quick detailer to get bird poop or other minor particles off your car. Safe hand force cannot be used on the dirt particles because there isn’t enough lubrication from the vinegar.

Will Vinegar Harm Paint on a Car?

Acidity, which makes vinegar effective in eradicating stubborn stains, also harms the exterior paint of your automobile. Vinegar measures typically at around two on the pH scale (0–14).

The level of acidity can cause substances to dissolve the clear coat, any exterior wax, and the top layer of an automobile’s paint. Moreover, vinegar will reduce some of the natural lubrication in the paint, making it more susceptible to dents and scratches.

White vinegar can be used sparingly to remove difficult-to-clean stains like tree sap, bird droppings, or bugs off a car’s exterior if appropriately diluted. To avoid needlessly harming your vehicle’s paint, the solution should be cured and removed as soon as possible after usage.

Will Vinegar Damage the Car Interior?

In most cases, it is best to avoid putting vinegar on your car’s exterior, but it can be a lifesaver for the interior. A cheap and easily accessible substitute for some well-known commercial auto cleaners, vinegar can be used to combine correctly with water to remove tough stains and combat residual aromas on practically all surfaces.

Worker cleaning car dashboard 

Vinegar Alternatives

If you’re seeking something with a more subdued smell or if you’ve used up all the vinegar in your kitchen, lemon juice can be used instead of vinegar because it has a comparable pH level.

This could be a tempting substitute if vinegar is too spicy for those with more delicate noses. Dish soap and baking soda work best when combined with a small amount of vinegar, but they can also be used separately to remove stubborn stains.


Vinegar can be used to clean cars and get watermarks off of interior and exterior surfaces. Using vinegar on your vehicle’s paint job is not a smart idea. Compared to auto shampoo or rapid detailer, vinegar does not provide the same level of lubrication, leading to scratches.

On car paint, vinegar can have a disastrous effect. A tiny amount of vinegar-water solution can be used on any plastic, wood, or vinyl surface. White vinegar has a pH of 2.5 and is the vinegar most frequently used in household cleaning.

Although vinegar isn’t highly corrosive, spraying it on your car will surely damage it. It’s only worth the risk if you’re willing to take the chance of etching your paint.

Avatar photo
About Brock Rangel

Hi, I am Brock, and I am the lead editor/photographer for TheCarColony. I have been a mechanic for over 14 years now, and I am here to spread my car knowledge across the web!