Can You Use Acetone On Aluminum? (Will Acetone Damage It?)

Getting your RV clean. This can be a tough task as you have so many different surfaces inside your RV or trailer. Some are wood, others are steel, and still, more may be aluminum. Not all cleansers will work on all products. Some will damage aluminum even if it is a strong metal.

One of the cleaning products you can use on aluminum is acetone. It is a powerful solvent but it is non-toxic. Plus, it is gentle on most surfaces. So yes, you can use acetone to clean your aluminum surfaces. But put it on a clean cloth first before applying it to this metal.

To learn more about this solvent, just continue to read our article. It explores this issue so you have the information that you need to make a great cleaning decision. Take a few minutes to see how this information helps you clean your RV or trailer is better.

Can You Use Acetone on Aluminum?


Yes, you can but even though this is an ideal aluminum cleaner, you still have to be careful. Acetone will dissolve dirt, grime, wax, grease, and other items making a mess of your aluminum surfaces

You can spray or pour it on lightly and let sit for a few minutes. Then after that time has expired, you just need to wipe it away. However, you should wash the aluminum with water once you are done using the acetone.

If you don’t, the acetone can sit on your aluminum and eventually damage it. There are better household products you can use to clean your aluminum surfaces. Vinegar and water are one mixture that will do a better and safer job on this metal.

Or you can use mild dish soap and water or borax and water. All of these products would be safer to use. But acetone may be less expensive than those products making it a better budget choice when you have lots of aluminum to clean.

Does Acetone Corrode Aluminum?

If you are using pure acetone, then the answer to this question is no. Pure acetone will not corrode aluminum. In addition to that, it won’t corrode any metal but this is only half the story.

When you do not buy pure acetone but those products that are considered technical grades, those technical grade formulas may add in some ingredients that can corrode or ‘attack’ aluminum.

What this means is that you have to make sure you read the label of any acetone product to see if it is pure or not. Be hesitant to buy the impure options unless you are not cleaning anything made from metal.

Of course, when you are cleaning your aluminum and trying to bring back its original luster, you won’t be leaving the acetone on the metal for very long. This little time frame should not produce any ill effects on the aluminum.

If you leave the acetone on for some time, then you should use the pure formula only. Wash the acetone off as soon as you can so you can avoid this problem.

Will Acetone Damage Anodized Aluminum?


It will if the anodization process was not done correctly. If there is a weakness in this process and there are porosities or scratches present, then acetone could damage this aluminum type.

The anodization process must be done correctly, and no porosities or scratches are on the surface before you can use acetone to clean this type of aluminum.

Other products you can use to clean anodized aluminum are rubbing alcohol and alcohol. Just make sure to wash the surface with water first. Then let the surface dry before putting a light amount of these products on the metal.

If there are light scratches in the metal, then you can use WD-40 and 220 grit sandpaper to remove those scratches. You will need to move up to 1500 and then 3000 grit sandpaper to smooth the metal out.

If you are out of other cleaners, then go ahead and use acetone to clean anodized aluminum. Just make sure to rinse well when you are done.

Mineral Spirits on Aluminum

Yes, this is one possibility if you do not want to use it or you do not have any acetone. Mineral spirits should be great at getting the tougher stains out and should be applied indirectly by pouring them on a rag first.

But this option is the last step in any cleaning process. The first steps include washing the aluminum with soap and water first then rinsing that mixture off. Make sure to get all the soapy residue off before applying the mineral spirits.

After using this product make sure to thoroughly rinse the liquid off and let the aluminum air dry. The biggest warning that comes with using mineral spirits is that it is flammable.

That means you will want to use this product when there are no sparks or flames close by. Before you use mineral spirits, do a test on a hidden part of the aluminum. If it discolors that hidden part, then do not use it.

Stay away from using coarse cleaning pads like steel wool or scouring powder. Aluminum is still a soft metal and can get scratched fairly easily.

Paint Thinner on Aluminum


This is one product you should not use on aluminum. It is stronger than mineral spirits even though they are the same product and have the same purpose. Paint thinner is not as refined as mineral spirits making it tougher on aluminum.

With that said, to paint aluminum or to get paint to stick to that metal, the aluminum surface would have to be anodized. If it isn’t, you should be able to remove that paint with just about any aluminum-safe cleaning product.

It is tempting to use paint thinner. That is because it is cheaper to buy than mineral spirits and other cleansers. The best idea would be to stick with an aluminum-safe cleaner.

Paint thinner is more toxic, and even more flammable than mineral spirits. The latter product is heavily refined to remove toxic and volatile compounds to make it safer to use. That is why it costs more than paint thinner.

While doing similar work and sounding almost the same, what is recommended over paint thinner is a paint stripper. These two products may sound the same and do similar work but paint strippers should be safer to use on aluminum.

Check the labels to make sure you can use them on aluminum and follow the instructions on those labels if you can use them.

Cleaning Aluminum With Acetone

The best advice that can be provided is to follow the instructions on the can or tub of acetone. There should be some instructions for you to follow, if not, then talk to the clerk at the store where you bought the product. They should be able to help you out.

Then when you are not sure or the clerk cannot help you, pour some acetone on a rag and then start wiping the aluminum. You should not have to press too hard to get the surface dirt and grime off this surface.

If there are some tougher stains that acetone cannot remove, no matter how hard you rub, then you should move on to a stronger cleanser. Just make sure it is aluminum friendly when you take that next step.

Also, make sure to rinse the aluminum thoroughly to make sure the acetone is completely removed. Then let it air dry.

Does Acetone Remove Paint From Aluminum?


Acetone is technically a solvent and it is an ingredient in many paint removers. That means that pure acetone should be a good paint remover. But before you apply this solvent to your painted aluminum surface, it is best to scrape as much paint off as possible.

Use a plastic putty knife to get most of the paint off and then follow that up with your acetone and rage. Pour the acetone on the rag and wipe the paint that way.

This may take a lot of elbow grease to get all the paint off but the paint has always been something that takes a lot of work to remove. When you use acetone as a cleaner, make sure you open the windows or turn a fab on.

You need to work in a well-ventilated area as acetone is very unpleasant to work with even though it is non-toxic. Some people recommend you wear a mask or other breathing device when you work with this solvent.

Some Final Words

Working with aluminum can be tricky. Although it is a tough metal and has certain strength qualities, it is also a soft metal that can get damaged easily. When you go to clean this metal, you should use aluminum-friendly cleaners to make sure it does not get damaged.

Acetone is a good aluminum-friendly cleaner. Just make sure to rinse it off completely. It is easy to apply and should bring the original luster back to your aluminum surfaces when applied correctly.

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