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44 comments on Ask-A-Pro: The Isopropyl Alcohol (IPA) Wipedown

  1. Ignas Peciulis says:

    I recently started using the IPA wipedown in my process.
    The simplest thing i can say about it is. I would like to shake the hand of the man who thought of this.

  2. Alberto Sosa says:

    Hey Todd, I’ve been following you’re work ever since I have bought my first detailed image product. I highly look up to you’re work. I wanted to know if it would benefit to use the IPA wipe down method before I apply CG EZ-Creme Glaze. The last polish I usually use is Menzerna Micro polish, then EZ-Creme Glaze, BFWD, and last CG 50/50 wax.

    • Thank you Alberto!

      While EZ Creme has cleaners in it and does a great job of removing residue from Menzerna polishes, it definitely couldn’t hurt to wipe it down first with IPA.

  3. Andrew Lastivka says:

    Nice write up. I’ve always used 91% IPA.

    One question Todd, is there any way to minimize possibly micromarring because of the lack of lubricity with IPA/Water solution?


    • Thanks Andrew.

      I’ve never had a problem with this myself. I think if you’re using a high quality, clean microfiber with very light and even pressure, you shouldn’t have any issues with micromarring when doing an IPA wipedown. The only exception to this would be a handful of cars out there with crazy-soft paints. And if this is the case, it’s not because of a lubrication issue with IPA…just that the paint is so soft that touching it in any way, shape, or form will cause problems.

  4. John G says:

    I am always thankful for your input and dedication to doing things the right way. One quick question regarding health concerns and IPA. Is there any sort of worry in regards to ingesting the IPA solution through the lungs? I understand that our faces should not be buried an inch from the panel(s) but exposure should be abundant while doing an entire car (depending on size). I know that our intentions are always good but just wanted to see if you have any concern regarding this in terms of exposure and health? Thanks again!


    • John,

      Health concerns are always important to me when dealing with detailing products. I think people need to be cautious when dealing with all of them really, and common sense safety practices should prevail. While I’m not a health expert, I do think there are more detailing products out there that have higher health risks if vapors got into the lungs. Some of the wheel cleaners, degreasers, tar removers, etc that detailers use on a daily basis can be quite potent…and should be handled with care for sure.

    • Garrett says:

      As a former Biomedical Sciences major (lots of chem classes), I can say that there are definitely health risks associated with inhalation of the vapors from IPA. However, that being said, the risk is low, usually sitting at mild respiratory irritation, dizziness, or a little nausea. If those should occur, consult a MSDS (official answer), or just go outside into a well ventilated area until the side effects cease (everyday answer). Oh, but if you actually concentrate and intentionally inhale the fumes, it can be much more serious.

      Hope it helps,


  5. Art says:


    What is the main difference between IPA wipe down and CG Vertua Bond?


    • Well they sort of accomplish the same basic task in the end, but do it in different ways. Some polishes can be very difficult to remove from the surface and leave behind a lot of residue. In this case I would definitely use IPA to remove them instead of Vertua Bond or EZ Creme. Also if you need to inspect the finish to make sure you’re getting a true correction, then you would use IPA instead. If you just need to do a thorough cleaning of the paint after polishing (when not much residue is obviously present), then you could either do an IPA wipedown, or use something like Vertua Bond or EZ Creme to clean the surface and prep it for your sealant or wax application.

  6. Terry S says:

    Would you do a IPA wipedown before or after P21 Paintwork Cleanser?

    Also when should paintwork cleanser be used? (everytime you wax or at some other interval)


    • There shouldn’t be a need to use IPA prior to Paintwork Cleanser, so you could just use it afterwards. You should only need to use a product like P21S Paintwork Cleanser 2-3 times per year as needed to freshen up the paint. You don’t need to use it every time you wax…

  7. Chris Williams says:

    Bringing this back from the dead. When doing an IPA wipe down, are there areas that should not be exposed to the alcohol? I’m wondering if headlights in particular would be affected from the alcohol. Or maybe things like trim or other porous plastics?

    Thanks for any input!

    • Chris,

      While there may be some parts that may not get along well with Isopropyl Alcohol, you should be pretty safe. The reason I sound vague is because there’s simply no way to know every part of every car made. The best method is simply to be cautious around any areas that you may have concern for. If you don’t want to get alcohol on an area, then spray it directly onto your towel first, and then wipe the area around it so that you don’t have a problem with overspray. I hope this helps.

      • Chris Williams says:

        Wow! I needed to check this sooner! This is the response I was hoping for. I figured the best way was to simply spray the towel then wipe avoiding any questionable areas. Thank you for the input. Now I will feel better when I do my wipe down on my car. I am doing an overhaul on the car using techniques that I’ve read from your posts. The car is a black MR2 Spyder. I will submit pictures at some point.

        Thanks again!!

  8. steve murphy says:

    could you help me please as i am starting out detailing my car when using ipa is it better to dilute it say 50/50 or 20%ipa to 80% water and is it better to use distilled
    best regards

  9. Mike Williamson says:

    Should I do the IPA wipe down before doing the glaze or would it remove the glaze if I wipe on top of the glaze?

  10. Norman DeLise says:

    Does IPA remove all of the wax and grime build up? I have a 15 year old car that hs years of carwash wash and waxing.

  11. Irene says:

    There is a recommendation going around on Facebook for a diy de-icing your car’s windshield. They recommend 2/3 alcohol to 1/3 water. Is this too strong for your car’s finish/paint?
    What do you recommend for a cheap de-icer?
    Thank you.

  12. mark says:

    What does indian pale ale (IPA) have anything to do with waxing a car?

  13. Ken says:

    I find my car looks so much better after 3 or 4 pints of India Pale Ale. Wears off the next day though. Thanks for all the great advice though.

  14. UB says:


    • Reece @ DI says:

      UB – I would not recommend using IPA and Wax together. We generally use IPA to remove any wax, sealant, coating, polishing oils, etc. to get the paint clean and ready to apply a new layer of protection. My fear of using the two together is that you are spraying a substance onto the surface, however the IPA will be removing the wax you are spraying on. If it is not removing all of the wax, at the very least it will most likely cut down the effectiveness of the wax.

  15. Albert says:

    Can I use isopropyl alcohol for cleaning my car engine to remove dirt and odor?

  16. Mike says:

    I just did a polish on an old 1984 bmw with metallic paint (two stage). After polishing each panel, I was sure to wipe off the excess polishing compound off with a clean microfiber. However when I go to do the IPA wipedown with 70% IPA, I keep on getting excessive white powdery residue after the alcohol dries. However, I would wipe the powder off only to see more and more upon repeating the IPA wipedown 3-4 times. I’m quite sure the residue is the excess polishing compound but it doesn’t make sense that there is so much of it and that there could be so much residue on the paint when it looks so shiny. When I go to wipe it down with quick detailer, the car seems extremely clean. What could be the case? I never had this happen before and there is no way the powder could be coming from the IPA or clearcoat.

    • Edward Kneip says:

      Perhaps the clear coat is gone and you’re down to base layer, which is oxidized and will continue wiping off indefinitely?

  17. Jaye says:

    Hello Todd,
    I recently read an article about filling a spray bottle with 1/3 water and 2/3 isopropyl alcohol to use as a de-icing spray for frozen windshields. Would there be any drawbacks to an application like this, since the liberally applied spray would not be wiped away?

  18. Why distilled water…when using IPA?

  19. SUBASH says:

    Can we use IPA for cleaning /washing vegetables and fruits to eliminate pesticide residue?

    • Reece @ DI says:

      Unfortunately we do not have any experience with using IPA for cleaning fruits and vegetables. I am sure it would clean it really well, but I do not think it would be okay to ingest. I would highly recommend contacting your heath care professional for the best answer possible.

  20. Starwar says:

    Recently i used Methylated spirit (99%) as a ipa wipedown with 50% water dilution (50/50%) on one solid black Toyota Prado (jdm ) to strip down any residue left by polishing to apply my silica based glass coating.
    After applying glass coating i noticed glass coat taking longer time in drying as it also making paint dull after touching seems like glass coating not bonding to paint.

    i am very worried and ur expert responce can make things clear and how to rectify this pls


  21. William Yelton says:

    Another great “cheap” way of prepping the paint Before a proper polish.

    Thanx for the idea

  22. MaxLeo says:


    I straight used IPA onto carpaint without diluting as preparing for glass coating.
    Unfortunately, there are some light white marks on the surface all over and can’t be removed eventhough i washed my car again with no shampoo.

    This case, how should i fix it as i personally think the surface should be shiny before applying glass coat.


  23. John Davis says:

    From these comments it sounds like an IPA wipedown would always be preferred before waxing?

    • Reece @ DI says:

      John – It can only help protection adhere best, but it is certainly not necessary when waxing or using a sealant. A coating however needs an IPA wipedown before applying.

  24. Patrick Robinson says:

    I clay bar my vehicle after washing and then I used a swirl remover then a polish and wax, 2 weeks ago. My car is black, I saw that it turned out very nice in the daylight. At night you can see the wipe marks on it like a smear affect, after the cool air and condensation settles on it, and it looks AWFUL! What do you suggest I do ? Just rub down with IPA and then wash and clay bar polish then wax? Start all over? Thank you

  25. Hello,

    What is a safe cleaner/degreaser to use on a Ceramic Coating such as cQuartz uk? I have a client that wants vinyl put on the car and I would wipe down the panel first. how would I go about prepping or cleaning the ceramic coated surface?


  26. Alex says:

    Hello. Very helpfull article. I am new in the car detailing and i am afraid do not make any damage to the paint. I have an Opel Astra H. As i know it has soft paint. Would be safe to you 30% IPA and 70% water? Or to do it as test in a small section in my car paint in order to see if IPA make any damage to the paint?
    Thank you for your time

  27. Yvonne says:

    Hi – I want to do an art project on my car. I would like the paint to wash off with soap and water or something that will not take the original paint job off or whatever clear coat is left. Its an older car so I know eventually it will need a professional paint job. So, for now I’d like to have some fun with people painting with temporary paint. I’d like it to last 2-3 months if possible. Do you have any suggestions on paint and how to take it off? Or someone I might be able to ask? I have searched the internet for weeks but I don’t think I’m asking the right questiins or in the right way.

    Thank you

  28. “Looks cool! Like this picture!”

  29. Alec Burns says:

    It’s helpful that you point out that isopropyl alcohol can be used to clean wax remnants off of your car after having it detailed. I just detailed my car and I’m considering using isopropyl alcohol to clean the stubborn bits of wax that remain. I’m going to look for a good supplier of isopropyl alcohol from which to purchase some.

  30. Jacob says:

    What do you get by mixing 99% isopropyl and 50% isopropyl alcohol?

    How can u mix 99% with 50% and water to get 75%?

  31. Edward Kneip says:

    What if you are compounding/polishing just to prepare the car for quick sale to car max, can a wax or sealant like turtle wax ice go directly over the polish and wipe with towel stage…as I’m not concerned with longevity?

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