How to Get Paint Off Tires – An Easy Paint Removal Guide

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

An accidental paint splatter on your tires is not only an eyesore, but it can also damage the tires in the long run. If you have paint on your tires, don’t panic!

There are multiple methods to remove that unsightly paint before tire damage occurs. If one of these methods doesn’t work on its own, try the next one until you have success. Sometimes it takes a combination of multiple methods to completely remove every trace of paint.

Paint can be removed from tires by using a number of different methods. Rubbing alcohol works well to remove fresh paint from tires. Use baking soda and lemon juice, vegetable oil, or bug remover work to loosen the dried paint. A simple scrubbing after applying a cleaning solution should remove the loosened paint completely. There are some cleaners that should not be used on tires, such as any solvent with acetone listed as an ingredient.

Method 1: Baking Soda and Lemon Juice

Baking soda and lemon juice have a mild chemical reaction that helps to break up the surface of the paint so that it can be removed.

Materials Needed

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Rinse all the dirt and debris off the tire.
  2. Scrub the paint with the brush  to loosen up as much of the paint as possible before you apply the baking soda and lemon juice.
  3. Sprinkle the baking soda on the areas with paint while the tire is still wet.
  4. Pour or spray the lemon juice over the baking soda.The mixture will bubble up.
  5. Use the scrub brush to remove the loosened paint.
  6. Reapply the baking soda and lemon juice, and continue to scrub until all the paint is gone.
  7. Rinse the tire with fresh water.

Method 2: Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil is another commonly found item that can help with paint removal. As an added benefit, the oil will give your tires a new, shiny look, and can help condition them against wear and tear.

Materials Needed

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Generously cover the paint with vegetable oil.
  2. Allow the oil to soak in for 2-4 hours. The oil will work to break down the paint.
  3. Use the scrub brush to scrub away the paint flakes.
  4. Wet the tire and the brush occasionally as you scrub.
  5. Rinse the tire with fresh water.

Method 3: Bug Remover

Bug remover is a gentle, all purpose cleaner that is specifically designed to remove bugs from car surfaces. However, it may also work to remove paint from your tires.

Materials Needed

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Clean the tire with water, soap, and a sponge to remove all the dirt and debris.
  2. Shake the bug remover. If it did not come in a spray bottle, pour it into a spray bottle.
  3. Spray the cleaner on the tire from about 6-7 inches away.
  4. Let the cleaner soak in for one minute.
  5. Gently scrub away the cleaner and the loosened paint with the brush or towel.
  6. Wash the tire again to remove all traces of the cleaner.

Method 4: Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is ideal for removing fresh paint from tires! Act quickly to remove the paint before it dries and cures to the tire.

Materials Needed

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Apply the alcohol to the rag. Use enough to soak the rag.
  2. Wipe away the fresh paint from the tire.
  3. Repeat as needed until all the paint is removed.
  4. Rinse the tire thoroughly with fresh water.

What NOT to Use on Tires

You may receive advice from well-meaning friends. However, if they suggest one of the following paint removal methods for your tires, don’t take their advice! Some solvents and materials will damage the rubber of the tires.

Brake Cleaner

Brake cleaner is a solvent that was designed to remove grease from metal parts of the car, such as disk brakes, or engine components.  It contains acetone and hydrocarbons. Both of those ingredients will break down plastic and rubber.

In other words, brake cleaner will eventually eat through tires. At best, it will disintegrate the protective wax coating on the tire. Do not use brake cleaner to remove paint or anything else from a car tire.

Goo Gone

Many people have a handy bottle of Goo Gone on their shelf! This oil-based cleaner removes sticky substances from just about any surface like magic. However, if you look on the back of the bottle, there is a warning to keep Goo Gone off of rubber surfaces.

Among other ingredients, Goo Gone contains acetone, which will soften and deteriorate rubber items, such as tires. If you accidentally get Goo Gone on your tires, rinse it off immediately.

Abrasive Pads

Abrasive scrubbing pads, such as steel wool, scotch brite pads, or any other type of scouring pad should not be used on tires. You can actually scrub part of the rubber away. Only use a brush, towel, or sponge on tires.

Acetone

Acetone is a key ingredient in many paint removers and cleaners. It will eat through the rubber. The higher the concentration of acetone, the more damage it will cause to tires. Avoid acetone or any product containing acetone near your tires.

If you do accidentally get acetone on the tires, immediately rinse them with fresh water.

Final Thoughts

Paint splatter does not have to be a permanent addition to your tires! If at all possible, remove fresh paint immediately with rubbing alcohol. Otherwise, try scrubbing the paint away with one of these methods. Don’t let paint ruin the look of your tires anymore!

About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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