Automotive

Is vinegar safe to wash car?

  • Last Updated:
  • Jul 15th, 2009 1:10 pm
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Deal Addict
Apr 28, 2004
1441 posts
133 upvotes

Is vinegar safe to wash car?

My condo garage has been under repairs for the last year or so and my car had about 25-30 water drip marks (calcium/lime deposits?) and I called Impark to try to get reimbursed for any professional detailing costs in removing those stains. Instead, they suggested using vinegar & water and sent someone to 'look' my car on Monday (I thought it was just to confirm I had 25+ drip marks.)

I drove today and realized that all the stains are gone, but a very strong vinegar odor and a bit of white dust residue. Obviously, Impark sent someone to clean the whole car with it. Aside from the fact that they went ahead and did something I didn't authorize, how safe is vinegar on the car finish? Do I just need to rewash (to get rid of vinegar odor) and re-wax?
6 replies
Deal Expert
Mar 23, 2004
19719 posts
1472 upvotes
Interesting question. I googled it (I would imagine you have as well?) and I'm getting mixed answers (or perhaps opinions I should say). Some sites actually recommend using it for that exact purpose, while a lot of individuals on other sites seem to think it's a no-no.

Since vinegar is a mild acid, I would think that provided it was diluted with water (one site recommends 3 parts water, 1 part vinegar for this operation) and provided it was rinsed off promptly and not left to sit on the paint, you should be fine. Re-waxing would certainly be a good idea though.
Jr. Member
Jul 6, 2009
168 posts
1 upvote
which condo is this? sounds like the condo board is made of idiots. what does impark have anything to do with it? i thought any requests for anything need to be addressed to the board of directors.
[OP]
Deal Addict
Apr 28, 2004
1441 posts
133 upvotes
The condo doesn't own the space as it is shared with a hotel - car owners pay monthly rent to Impark for a separate gated area.

Part of me is happy that the water stains are finally gone as it looked horrible on the car. Only problem is that I have no idea what concentration (vinegar/water mixture) they used or the effect it'll have on the finish.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 2, 2006
5450 posts
288 upvotes
Stouffville, ON
Hi,


Please look up the "official detailing thread" I've posted many times about a product called "optimum no rinse" which essentially is a product that allows for a great wash with only (a bucket or two of water and a towel to dry).

Vinegar is acidic and will eat or harm your clearcoat. Optimum no rinse allows you to wash your car without a power or water source.

Simply add 2oz to 1 gallon of water, have a bucket of clean water available dip your wash mit or microfibre towel into thesoap buckey and wipe each panel clean, then dry with a drying towel. Wring out the wash towel in the clean water and repeat.

ONR has lubrication and leaves behind clean paint that doesn't strip wax protection or harm paint.

See autogeek.net or eshine.ca to read about Optimum (brand) no rinse (product).

Even a small bottle will last you months, I bought two of the gallpon bottles, and as a detailer I still have my original supply which I can use in winter and for a variety of other things. Enjoy, I'll PM you this just to make sure you receive it.
Regards,
--
m4gician
I like to detail cars. If you have any detailing questions I'd love to help! Tweet or Email anytime!
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Sep 2, 2006
5450 posts
288 upvotes
Stouffville, ON
Ah, edit: I'm a victim of my own stupidity here. I read the thread title and assumed this was another of the "I live in condo, can't wash car" threads.

The info is still useful, and may actually help you get that smell out. I apologize for not reading. Your paint is fine btw, they used a diluted concentration of the stuff, but imho u have no wax protection anymore.

Invest in a jar or bottle of wax and apply it to the paint to give you protection from water marks, bird droppings, etc.
Regards,
--
m4gician
I like to detail cars. If you have any detailing questions I'd love to help! Tweet or Email anytime!
Sr. Member
Dec 27, 2007
644 posts
4 upvotes
Yes, you can wash your car with a diluted vinegar solution. It's called a "sour rinse".

Sour rinses are sometimes used by detailers to remove fresh tree sap or tar.

I personally would recommend not using vinegar, because it will eat away some clear coat and can cause other damage (acid etching).

Most water spots can be removed with a polish (machine rotary, mild cut pad and polish agent). Heck if you're so inclined, you can invest in a couple hundred bucks of gear and do it yourself.
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