Acetone is a common and well known solvent that can be used as a thinning agent for many different substances. Acetone can be found in nail polish remover, and has an incredible degreasing effect. Unfortunately it also has the ability to severely damage surfaces. Over time it can actually dissolve certain polyesters and plastic substances.
Uses for acetone
In small quantities, acetone can be used to degrease surfaces and to remove certain types of contamination. If used with care, it can remove dried up super-glue and polyester resins. Acetone evaporates over time, any remains of the material would evaporate with leaving little residue. Only the components dissolved by it might stay behind. Acetone is a popular and fairly cheap paint thinner, and can be effectively used to remove glue residue, tar spots and can even remove permanent marker.
Damage from acetone
Acetone has the ability to dissolve many different substances. If left to long on plastic, it can actually dissolve the plastic causing permanent surface damage. Due to the difficulty in restoring the finish of the plastic surface, the only fix is often to replace the part completely. Acetone can also cause severe surface damage on paintwork if left for too long. Although it can be used to remove grease, tar, glue remains and dried up paint splatter, it can dissolve part of the surface of the paint. This would cause damage that resembles heavily oxidized paintwork. However, oxidized paint can often be restored by removing the oxidized top-layer, acetone damage can damage so much of the paintwork that restoring becomes almost impossible. Only if treated in time, the area can be wetsanded to remove the damaged material and polished back to its former gloss.
Preventing damage from acetone
Acetone can be dissolved in water, which means it is reasonably easy to remove or the dilute. An area that has been covered with acetone can be cleaned by rinsing off the largest part, then washed with a shampoo or an , in order to remove the last bit of residue.
Repairing damage from acetone
The damage caused by acetone is a permanent chance of state and can not be reversed. However, if you spot it in time, the damage can be halted and further damage can be prevented. In the case of paintwork, the damage can be repaired as long as it hasn’t eaten through the clear coat. In this case one would need to remove the damaged layer of paint, and then polish the surface to a gloss. When the clear coat is dissolved, one would need to polish all the way down to the colored coat, risking quick oxidation in the colored coat if left unprotected. When acetone has damaged plastic surfaces, the biggest challenge would be to restore to overall look of the item. Plastic trim often has an uneven surface with a certain texture in it, if this can not be recreated, one would always see a visible difference. This is apart from the “whitening effect” it can have when it dissolves certain oils from the plastic trim. The same applies to plastic dashboard and other interior pieces.