Skip to Content

Does Bleach Ruin Car Paint?

Clorox bleach on white containers on a store shelf.

Yes, it will damage the paint on a vehicle if it is left on for a long time. However, the harm will be severe if it’s kept in the automobile for an extensive duration. Note that bleach just isn’t neutralized, so using pure bleach on a car may result in bad outcomes.

With all that you’ll read in this article, it is evident that bleach does destroy automobile paint. It doesn’t just merely occur though. Bleach would only harm the car’s paintwork if left on the surface for a lengthy period after applying.

However, bleach is still a useful chemical to erase tough bird poop, water spots, and more. Bleaches are versatile cleaners that have many other applications outside car washing. Additionally, we can use it as a disinfectant to eliminate any germs or bacteria residing on a given surface.

Keep reading for more on how to safely use bleach on your car.

Does Bleach Ruin Car Paint?

Paint finish peeling of the handle of an old car.

Most automobile owners wash their vehicles with bleach, but is this harmful to the paint? We established earlier that this is the case. When left on for too long, bleach (particularly undiluted bleach) can damage the paint on an automobile.

When we take our cars to the car wash, we expect the paint to come out looking great. However, a few car wash mixtures and tools can inadvertently cause slight damage to the paint without us even noticing it. Bleach can be used to clean a wide variety of things, including laundry, bathrooms, kitchens, floors, and other surfaces.

Bleach is effective as a cleaning agent, but it is also a strong substance that can damage your car’s paint when used for car washing. Yes, please see the results of using bleach on your car’s paint below.

How Does Bleach Ruin Car Paint?

Faded car paint - peeling paint surface in a 15 year old compact blue car.

Our automobiles’ paint usually deteriorates because we leave it on for too long. Bleach is one tool you can employ in the battle against unsightly stains on your car’s paint. Bleach can indeed help get rid of chemical stains.

Bleach, due to its chemical composition, can be used to clean even the most stubborn stains from a variety of surfaces, including automobiles. Bleach can be used to clean cars without risk if it is diluted or blended with another solvent first. Some folks, however, for whatever reason (stain removal, mold removal, etc.), have a habit of pouring bleach onto a defined area of their car’s paint.

This isn’t necessarily a bad idea, but keeping the bleach on for too long will eat away at your car’s finish. Bleach should be used exclusively; it should not be combined with any other detergent or cleaning product. Water is the best option if you must add anything which would reduce the bleach hardness by acting as a solvent.

Bleach can be used on plastics and painted surfaces, but prolonged exposure can produce chemical reactions that in turn can cause oxidation or other damage. Don’t use these bleach and water concoctions to clean your car:

  • Vinegar with bleach
  • Cleaning products, including bleach and ammonia
  • Rubbing alcohol with bleach

Chlorine gas, produced by the first combination, is known to irritate the respiratory system and lead to coughing fits. The second mixing yields chloramine, a poisonous gas that causes acute chest pain. Chloroform, which can induce unconsciousness, is produced in the third combination.

Rather, we should dissolve it in water, then wash the car with a bleach and water mixture, using a microfiber towel or cloth. You shouldn’t leave the bleaching water on your automobile for more than a few minutes before using distilled water to rinse it off.

What Does Bleach Do To Your Car Paint?

We can easily strip away the paint on our cars with a bucket of undiluted bleach because of the chemical reaction that occurs when the bleach and paint come into contact. Bleach can cause severe burns if it comes into contact with your skin, as it is very reactive and caustic. Diluting bleach with water makes it less reactive than it would be otherwise.

However, bleach in any concentration can cause paint to oxidize if left on the surface for too long. So, to put it another way, bleach, if left on a car’s paint for too long, will cause irreparable damage. When talking about too long, about bleach, that’s not in hours.

Leaving undiluted bleach on our car’s paint for three minutes is way too long. Since the reaction time of undiluted bleach is less than a minute, it could strip the covering off a surface if kept there for longer than that. However, diluted bleach can remain for upward of three minutes without causing any harm.

You probably won’t want to take that chance. Instructions on how to properly dilute and use bleach to wash your car without damaging the paint are provided below.

Bleach: The Easy Way to Get Rid of Car Stains

Cropped image of a chlorox and sponge - a cleaning materials.

Fortunately, if you know how to dilute the bleach with water, you could use it to effectively remove stubborn stains and debris from your car’s paint. Manufacturers create a wide variety of bleach formulations for a variety of uses. One thing is for sure, though: every bottle of bleach comes with a unique set of directions for use on various surfaces.

However, if you need to wash your car, follow these guidelines.

1. Wash the Car

Surface home cleaning spraying antibacterial sanitizing spray bottle disinfecting against COVID-19 spreading wearing medical blue gloves.

The first step is to wash the car with the typical car wash compound or detergent. Eliminate any grime from the stained area. Stop waiting for the automobile to dry before proceeding with the following set of instructions.

2. Dilute the Bleach with Fresh Water

Note: do not add any other types of chemicals or cleaning products to the solution). There is no “magic number,” although you may use half a cup of bleach for every gallon of water. Try to find out whether the manufacturer included instructions on what ratio of bleach to water to use.

3. Using the Bleach Solution

In this step, clean the stained areas by scrubbing them with the bleach solution. 

  • For a few seconds, soak your microfiber towel in water and scrub the spot. Concentrate on a single point at a time.
  • After letting the bleach sit for a few minutes (no more than three is recommended), rinse the area with clean water.
  • Look around to see if the stains still exist; you should be able to. But if the stains persist, take a small amount of undiluted bleach and wipe the affected areas with a cloth. This time, though, a brief rinsing after about one minute is in order.

It’s important to keep in mind that prolonged exposure to undiluted bleach could strip away the wax covering.

Preventing Scratches and Chips in Your Car’s Finish

Protecting your car’s paint from scratches and oxidation can be done in several different ways.

1. Waxing

Waxing your car gives a layer of defense against abrasions and other paint damage to the clear coat. Car waxing isn’t time-consuming, but it does require a high-quality product that won’t damage the paint. When waxing an automobile, it’s important to keep it out of direct sunshine and into a garage or shaded area so the wax has time to set.

2. Covering the Vehicle

A parked car covered with a sun protection fabric on the street of green city.

All vehicle owners must invest in quality car covers. Covering your car when parking in a public area is a good idea because it protects the finish from the elements and deters scratches from other drivers and passersby. It also keeps bird droppings and tree sap, two of the most common things that damage or eat away at car finishes, out.

3. Always Keep the Car Clean

Washing the car regularly is another approach to preserve the paint. Allowing debris to accumulate for extended periods on a freshly painted surface can cause the paint to fade or even peel. Therefore, we advise you to do this to preserve the condition of your car’s paint.

Regular care, washing, and waxing will preserve our car’s paint for years to come. Be proactive in solving any problems you may have with the vehicle, as even a little problem, if unattended, can quickly escalate.