3 Safe Ways to Remove Grease From Car Paint

A grease stain on your paint job is an unsightly blemish and should be removed as soon as possible in order to reduce the damage done to the body paint. There are several methods of removing grease from your car’s body paint. However, most sources agree that the safest way is to begin with water, dish soap, and elbow grease.

Dish soap is a popular option because it’s less abrasive than other degreaser solutions, but there are other methods for removing grease from car paint. Keep reading to learn more about what works, what doesn’t, and how to save your body paint without putting yourself or your crew at risk.

Removing grease from car paint.

1. Apply Dish Soap

Dish soap is an effective degreaser. When applied with ample water, it essentially surrounds and eats away at the grease. This allows it to be rinsed off without damaging the paint.

The major advantage of dish soap over other cleaning solvents is that it maintains the integrity of the body paint underneath. Many degreasers tend to either discolor or corrode the paint while removing the grease stain. You can avoid either scenario by using a more gentle solvent.

You may also like: Car Wash Soap Alternatives: Best Household Soap to Wash a Car

2. Use WD-40

If dish soap fails to lift the grease off your car paint, try using WD-40 as your next step. Apply the WD-40 to the grease-stained area. Rinse with water and gently wipe the area free of grease and grime. If you’re using WD-40 on a grease spill in the engine, a soft brush can be a helpful tool to clean hard-to-reach spaces. 

3. Use a Degreaser Spray

Degreaser spray such as the Goo Gone Automotive Spray Gel (Amazon) is a popular choice for removing grease and other pesky substances such as tar, sap, and bird waste.

According to the Goo Gone homepage – which admittedly was written in reference to removing grease from kitchenware rather than car paint, however, the same principle applies – the process for using degreaser spray is simple. Here are the steps:

  1. Spray the degreaser onto the stained area.
  2. Allow the degreaser to sit for 1-2 minutes. The time required may vary depending on the intensity of the stain.
  3. Remove the degreaser from the surface using a microfiber towel, soft brush, or another non-abrasive instrument.

C-Tec Multi-Purpose Solvent is another example of a Multisolve cleaning solution that you can spray onto a grease stain. According to the product information, multisolve degreasers are a unique, non-abrasive solvent designed to remove grease without damaging the integrity of the paint coat or weather sealant underneath.

Be Wary of Degreasers Claiming to Be “Safe Solvents”

There are a wide variety of degreaser products that are marketed as safe or gentle on car paint. According to Ct1, many “gentle” or “paint-safe” degreaser sprays don’t live up to their selling point. The amount of pressure applied in order to clean the stain away using some degreasers can result in severe damage or discoloration of the area.

If a paint-safe degreaser spray is working properly, the grease stain should lift with relative ease after the solvent has been allowed to sit for a few moments. If the stain isn’t completely lifted after the first spray and wipe-down, repeat the process until the grease is gone.

Natural Degreasers Can Remove Grease Stains From Car Paint

Homemade degreasers can be a useful resource for cleaning grease stains off your car paint. Creating a homemade degreaser allows the user to ensure that the solvent is properly diluted and won’t cause damage to the underlayer of paint.

One DIY degreaser recipe includes a mixture of baking soda, citric acid, and water. The alkaline and acidic properties of the citrus and baking soda balance each other and are further diluted by the addition of water. Be sure to prevent the degreaser from being too concentrated by measuring your proportions carefully.

Here are the materials required to make your own natural degreaser:

  • 1 tablespoon of baking soda
  • 20 drops either of lemon juice or lemon essential oil
  • 2 cups of warms water
  • Spray bottle or container

To make a natural degreaser, here are the steps:

  1. Mix the ingredients together in the spray bottle, ensuring all the components are thoroughly dissolved.
  2. Apply the mixture liberally to the grease-stained area, wiping it clean with a microfiber towel.
  3. Repeat as many times as needed until the grease stain is entirely removed.

Can You Use an Engine Degreaser to Remove Grease From Car Paint?

Engine degreaser is a highly abrasive solvent, designed to lift grease off metal. The strength of the degreaser will begin damaging both the grease stain and the paint underneath as soon as it’s applied and should be removed immediately if accidentally applied or spilled on the body paint.

You should never use an engine degreaser to remove a grease stain from the body paint of a vehicle. Concentrated solvents such as engine degreasers are prone to cause discoloration, peeling, corrosion, and other damage.

If you accidentally applied an engine degreaser to a grease stain on your car paint, it’s important to remove it right away. Here’s how:

  1. Rinse the area with plenty of water, flushing as much of the concentrated degreaser as possible.
  2. Wipe down the area using a soft rag or microfiber towel and inspect the damage.
  3. Choose a paint-safe stain remover depending on how much damage was done to the paint. Make sure that you pick an appropriate paint-safe scratch and stain remover. However, only take this step if the concentrated degreaser was flushed away within 2-3 minutes of contact.
  4. Apply the scratch and stain remover gently, using a microfiber towel so as not to further damage the body paint.
  5. Polish and wax the affected area once the degreaser has been completely removed, minimizing the visible damage to the paint coat.

If the engine degreaser has been left on the body for more than a few minutes, it’s recommended that you seek professional assistance to remove engine degreaser, and don’t make further attempts on your own.

Never Use Gasoline or Diesel to Remove Grease Stains

Although many mechanics, detailers, and experienced amateurs attest that diesel can be an effective degreaser, the general consensus is that using fuel is too dangerous. While diesel fuel can serve to gently lubricate the grease stain, making it easier to wipe off, it causes more risks in terms of use and removal.

Using gasoline or diesel fuel as a solvent to clean stains, tools, or pavement isn’t only dangerous but in violation of federal safety regulations. Diesel fuel has a low flash-point, which increases the probability of unexpected explosions.

Using diesel as a solvent also presents the risk of groundwater pollution, exposes workers to unhealthy fumes, and increases the fire risk. In order to maintain a worksite that’s both clean and safe, avoid using diesel as a degreaser on vehicles, parts, or tools.

Final Thoughts

Grease stains can be difficult to remove and unsightly if ignored. There are a variety of ways in which car owners can lift grease stains off their body paint. The most popular method is to apply water, scrub the stained area with dish soap, then wipe the surface down with a microfiber towel.

If you’re using a spray-on degreaser or homemade solvent, be sure it’s properly diluted. Cleaning grease stains using too concentrated of a solvent can cause damage to the coat of paint underneath.

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