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How to Remove House Paint from Your Car (Step by Step)

How to Remove House Paint from Your Car (Step by Step)
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Imagine driving behind a construction vehicle, and suddenly a gallon can of paint drops off the truck, hits the road, and sends a shower of house paint all over the bonnet of your gleaming new car.

This scenario would be any car owner’s nightmare. Fortunately, all is not lost, and there are some methods you can use to remove house paint from your car.

The process will differ depending on if the paint is water-based or oil-based. Here’s what to do:

  1. Work in a shaded spot
  2. Clean the area
  3. Mask off the splash
  4. Soak the paint spot with soapy water or solvent
  5. Gently remove tiny bits at a time
  6. Use a clay block
  7. Wash and polish the car

It is essential to act as soon as possible when removing house paint from your car, ideally before the paint has hardened fully. Warm soapy water will work well to remove water-based paint spills.

Solvent or oil-based paints require paint stripping chemicals to be removed successfully. By following some basic steps, you will be able to remove the offending paint.

Can House Paint Be Removed from a Car?

Removing house paint from your car can be very successfully achieved without causing damage to your car’s original paintwork. Professionals specializing in just such automotive repairs are available, but fortunately, you can do it yourself.

Should you wish to remove the paint yourself, the key is to be gentle and have patience. The original paint on a vehicle consists of multiple layers consisting of an E-coat, primer, base coat, and finally, a clear coat that acts to protect your vehicle’s paint from the elements. Take care not to damage the vehicle’s paint layers, as this will blemish the vehicle’s paint finish.

House paints are manufactured in many ways and use several chemicals and additives. Most commonly, two types of paints adorn our homes. House paint is either water-based or oil-based. Water-based paints are easy to dissolve using water.

Oil-based paints tend to repel water and dry into a hard layer and therefore need solvents to remove. Solvents, however, can cause damage to your car paint, so caution one must work extremely cautiously when opting for this method.

How to Remove Water Based Paint from Your Car’s Exterior

The amount of time and the type of materials needed to remove house paint from your car successfully will largely depend on two factors. These are: the extent of the paint spill on your vehicle & how long has the offending paint been on your car. Fresh paint is easier to remove than dried on paint.

Water-based paints are great in that a soft rag and warm soapy water will, in most instances, result in a successful outcome and remove the house paint from your car. The car’s clear coat finish condition will also affect the outcome of the spill removal. The better and well-polished the car’s paint, the easier the house paint removal.

Removing water-based house paint, also known as latex paint, from your car’s paint can be done in the following ways.

How to Remove Fresh House Paint from Your Car

Removing fresh water-based house paint, also known as latex paint, from your cars paintwork can be done in the following ways:

What You Will Need:

  • Soap
  • Water
  • A soft towel
  • Automotive Clay Bar
  • Elbow grease

Step 1: Work in a Shaded Area

Working in the shade is important to prevent water or applied solvents from evaporating too rapidly.

Step 2: Wet the Soft Cloth

For very fresh spills where the house paint is still wet to the touch, a soft, moist towel should easily wipe off the spilled paint from your car.

Step 3: Stay on the Target

Take care not to unnecessarily spread the paint with the cloth onto unaffected areas and work slowly. For bigger spills wiping off smaller sections at a time will assist in the cleaning process

Small spots, such as paint overspray, can be washed off the same way as when washing the car. Bear in mind that very thin layers of paint dry very quickly, so the sooner you attend to the spill, the better.

Step 4: Work Lightly Over the Paint You Want to Remove

Gently wipe off the wet paint to remove it. You don’t want to press the paint into your car’s clear coat as it may create a dull spot on your vehicle’s paintwork when you’re finished. Creating a dull patch may be expensive to repair, so work patiently and slowly to maintain your vehicle’s original finish.

Step 5: Apply Clay Block

Once the paint has been visibly removed and the area you were working on is dry, use a clay bar to clean the affected area further. Clay Bars like Clayblock from Chemical Guys cost around $18.99, and this product will help restore a smooth finish to your car.

Step 6: Wash and Polish

The final step is to wash and polish the car as you would normally do.

How to Remove Dried on House Paint from Your Car

For older spills where the water-based house paint has already dried on your car, you will need the following items:

  • A bucket filled with warm soapy water
  • A soft, absorbent cloth like an old towel
  • A plastic card like a credit card
  • A clay bar
  • Car shampoo
  • Car paint polish

Step 1: Soak the Affected Area

Using the soft, absorbent cloth, wet the affected house paint area repeatedly. Thoroughly soak the affected area with warm soapy water. The aim is for the paint to absorb the water.

Step 2: Gently Wipe the Area

Using the damp cloth, gently wipe across the area where the house paint is on your car. Do not apply excessive pressure. If you press too hard, it may cause the house paint to be pushed into the fine pores of the existing clear coat, causing clouding of the paint finish.

Little by little, the house paint will start becoming visible on the cloth. Color on the cloth means that it is being removed from the car.

Step 3: Try to Lift or Pry the Edges of a Splash

From time to time, try gently lifting or scratching at the soaked house paint edges with either your fingernail or the plastic card. With some patience, the paint spot will pop off or even allow you to peel off the house paint in a sheet, like removing a plaster.

Step 4: Keep Applying Soapy Water

Keeping the house paint moist throughout the exercise is vital. Continue to apply water by laying the damp cloth over the area.

Step 5: Apply Clay Block

Once the house paint has been removed, use a clay bar on the affected area. This will further clean any paint residue from the vehicle’s surface.

Step 6: Wash and Polish the Car

The final step is to wash the affected area with car shampoo and rinse it off. Once dry, car polish can be applied to enhance the car’s paint finish further.

How to Remove Solvent or Oil Based Paint from Your Cars Exterior

The amount of oil-based paint spilled on your car and the time elapsed since the spill will directly influence how successful you will be in removing the house paint. It will require a solvent solution. Soap and water will not remove this type of paint, even if the paint is still wet.

Contractors favor solvent-based, and oil-based equivalent paints for use in high traffic or external areas. The paints dry into a hard coating that is impervious to weather conditions and is very abrasion-resistant. This type of paint is more challenging to remove from your car, but it is not impossible if you know how to do it.

For Minor and Fresh Spills

If the solvent-based house paint on your car has still not yet dried, give it a light wipe and rinse with water mixed with a small amount of lacquer thinners or rubbing alcohol. Hopefully, this will remove it.

Use a soft, absorbent cloth to minimize the amount of solvent used to remove the unwanted paint. These solvents can harm your car’s finish if not washed off quickly, so after you have cleaned the paint spill, wash the area with clean soap and water to remove solvent residue.

Alternately, if you are near any paint supply store, pick up a can of specialty products such as Goo Gone or Goof Off. These products are designed to remove various tough stains from cars, including paint.

These products are formulated not to damage your car’s paintwork and work very well to remove solvent-based house paint. Directions for use are simple. Apply to a rag, dab onto the affected area, and rub off gently with a clean cloth.

How to Remove Dried on Solvent-Based House Paint from Your Car

Solvent and oil-based paints repel water and can only be removed using solvents such as lacquer thinners, turpentine, rubbing alcohol, acetone, etc. These solvents easily remove unhardened paint splatters and will also soften up and remove the dried paint.

For solvent-based housepaint spills on your car, where the paint has already dried.

You will need:

  • Lacquer thinners or diluted rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton buds
  • Masking tape
  • Soapy water
  • A soft absorbent cloth
  • A clay bar
  • Car shampoo
  • Car paint polish

Step 1: Work in a Shaded and Well Ventilated Area

Since you will be working with solvents, you must take care not to inhale excessive fumes. These chemicals evaporate quickly, so it is important to choose a shady spot to work.

Step 2: Wipe Down the Area That You Will Be Working On

Create a clean working area free of grit or any other dirt on the car that may get onto your materials.

Step 3: Define the Area

Using masking tape, mask off the area around the spill where you will be working. This is to avoid any unnecessary marks or unwanted solvent spills onto unintended areas.

Step 4: Test on a Small Area

Apply tiny amounts of the solvent directly onto the dry house paint but try not to remove any of the car’s original paintwork. Using the cotton bud, dipped into the solvent, rub a little onto a test area. Work the cotton bud around on the selected area to gauge how fast the house paint comes off with the solvent you are using.

Step 5: Continuously Wipe Off Excess Solvent

Wipe the area gently using a damp cloth to reduce the buildup of the solvent in a concentrated area. Thicker areas of house paint may need more work than the thinner areas.

Step 6: Check the Cotton Bud for Color Change

Keep checking the cotton bud for any color sign of the original car paint color. If you see the car’s color, it means you’ve gone in far enough. Stop working on that spot as you’re starting to remove the car’s paint.

Work slowly and steadily and only remove very small sections of the house paint at a time. By working bit-by-bit, you can avoid unnecessary damage to the car’s paintwork.

Step 7: Use a Clay Block

Once the house paint has been removed from your car, the affected area needs to be rinsed off with water and soap and allowed to dry. Use a clay bar to clean the worked-on area further as it deep cleans your car’s paint. This step will remove the very fine house paint residue that is invisible to the naked eye.

Step 8: Apply Car Polish

When you have finished carefully removing the house paint from your car, applying car polish can enhance the natural shine of the paintwork. Car polish will also add a protective layer to your car’s painted surfaces.

Final Thoughts

Removing house paint successfully from your car’s paintwork without causing damage to the car’s paint finish is possible. Regardless of the type of house paint that spilled on your vehicle, the most crucial thing is to remove it as soon as possible.

Paint dries hard over time, making it progressively harder to remove. However, working slowly and methodically makes it possible to remove all types of house paint that might have accidentally splashed on your car and restore your vehicle to its original luster.

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