Does Bleach Ruin Car Paint?

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There are some car wash compounds and equipment that silently leave minor damages on your car’s paint and over time, those silent damages become so visible and nasty that you begin to imagine what could have caused them to appear.

Most people use bleach to wash their cars; but, does bleach ruin car paint? Yes, bleach can ruin car paint when left on the car for a long time, especially the undiluted ones.

Apparently, bleach is used for washing a lot of things, from clothes to toilets, surfaces, floors, etc. But when it comes to car wash, bleach can be a good cleaning agent and also a harsh compound for your car’s paint. Yes, below is what bleach does to your car paint.

Does Bleach Ruin Car Paint?

When you notice that there are some stubborn stains on your car’s paint, one of the things you can use to remove such stains is to use bleach.

Yes, bleach can come in handy for chemical stain removal. The chemical formulation of bleach is able to remove tough stains from any surface, including cars.

When bleach is properly dissolved or mixed with a solvent, it becomes very safe to use in washing cars. But, for one reason or another, some people tend to pour out bleach to a marked area of their car’s paint (probably to remove stain).

While this practice isn’t naturally bad, leaving the bleach for a long time would ruin your car paint.

Also, bleach is not to be mixed with another cleaning agent or detergent – it is meant to be used alone. If you must add something to it, then it should be water (which would act as a solvent to reduce the harshness of the bleach).

Basically, plastics and painted surfaces can tolerate bleach, but if left for a long time, it could cause chemical reactions, which in turn, could lead to oxidation or other damages. When using bleach to wash your car, you should avoid the following mixture:

  • Bleach and vinegar
  • Bleach and ammonia
  • Bleach and rubbing alcohol

The first mixture creates chlorine gas, which causes cough and difficulty breathing. The second mixture creates chloramine, a toxic gas that causes severe chest pain. More so, the third mixture creates chloroform, which can cause unconsciousness.

Instead, bleach should be dissolved in water, and then you can use a microfiber cloth or towel to wash your car using the bleach/water solution. Again, you should not allow the bleached water to stay long on your car before rinsing it off with clean (distilled) water.

What Does Bleach Do To Your Car Paint?

What Does Bleach Do To Your Car Paint

When you pour undiluted bleach on your car’s paint, it reacts immediately with the paint and causes oxidation to occur; thus, removing your car’s paint. Bleach is very reactive – it is also caustic and could cause skin burns if accidentally applied to your skin.

However, when diluted in water, bleach becomes less reactive than it could be if undiluted. But, even diluted bleach can trigger paint oxidation if left on the surface for a long time. So to say, bleach can ruin your car paint if left for too long on the surface.

Here, “too long” doesn’t mean hours or several minutes; three minutes is “too long” for you to leave undiluted bleach on your car’s paint. Undiluted bleach reacts very quickly if left on a surface for more than sixty seconds (60 secs.), it could remove the coating on that surface.

On the other hand, diluted bleach can sit for up to three minutes (3 mins) and still not cause any damage – you won’t love to take such chances, anyway. Below, we have provided details on how to dilute and use bleach to wash your car so that it doesn’t ruin the paint.

How To Remove Stains From Car Using Bleach

One good thing about bleach is that it would definitely remove staunch or chemical stains and dirt from your car’s paint; you just need to know how to dilute it in water.

There are different types of bleach produced by different manufacturers. But one thing is certain; each manufacturer provides a set of instructions on how you should use their bleach to clean different surfaces. However, when it comes to car washing, these steps below are generally what to do.

First Step:

Wash the car with your regular car wash compound or detergent. Make sure that the stained area is clean from dirt. You don’t need the car to dry, simply move on with the next guide below.

Second Step:

Pour out bleach into clean water (note: no other cleaning agent or detergent should be added to the water, only the bleach). There’s no perfect ratio here, but 1/2 cup of bleach per 1 gallon of water would serve. Endeavor to check if the manufacturer provided the bleach-to-water ratio.

Third Step:

Now use the bleach solution to clean the stained areas. Dip your microfiber towel into the water and use it to scrub the area for some seconds. Focus on one area/spot at a time.

When the bleach had stayed for a few minutes (we’d recommend a maximum of 3 minutes), use clean water and rinse the surface.

Inspect the area and check for the stains – they should be removed already. However, if the stains are still there, pour out undiluted bleach (very little quantity) to the towel and wipe those areas. This time, you will need to rinse off quickly, let’s say after 30 – 60 seconds.

Note: undiluted bleach may remove the wax layer if left for a longer time.


So, does bleach ruin car paints? With all that we’d shared here, it is obvious that bleach does ruin car paints, but it doesn’t just happen. Bleach would only ruin your car’s paint if left on the surface for a long time after application.

However, bleach is still a good chemical to remove stubborn water spots, bird droppings, and other stains that may want to ruin your car’s aesthetic appearance.

Asides from being used for car wash, bleaches can be used for various other home cleaning tasks. It also acts as a disinfectant for killing viruses or bacterial on any surface.

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