DetailingWiki Newsletter
    Get free and automatic updates on new articles
    We respect your privacy. No data is used for anything other than sending the newsletter!


How to remove overspray

Written by:

When a part is spraypainted, a mist of paint can float down onto other surfaces. This can happen when a part of a car is being painted. This mist falls down onto other parts and dries up. This is called overspray and shows up as very small specks on top of the paintwork.

What causes overspray

Bodypanels on vehicles are generally painted with paint that is sprayed over the surface. The paint is forced through a nozzle that turns the liquid into very small drops that are spread over the surface while spraying. The paint dries up and leaves a solid layer of paint on the bodypanel. This mist of paint is very light, and can easily be carried by wind. This tiny paint particles can float onto surfaces that aren’t supposed to get painted. These tiny drops dry up and harden. This results in very small specks of “dust” on the paintwork that is very difficult to remove. These specks feel hard.

How to remove overspray

There are a few different solutions to removing overspray, it depends on how much overspray there is, how hard it has become and/or how big the blobs are.


A regular claybar can pull the specks of paint loose from the surface, and remove them. This might not go easy, and could require some effort and pressure. But should work on most cases.


If a claybar isn’t rough enough, it might need a more rough approach. Wetsanding will literally sand down the specks of paint, but might also result in sanding down a small part of the original paint.


When filling in chipped off paint, there might be a small blob of paint. This can be taken off by a de-nibbler. This tool can also be used to “nibble” off overspray. However, this will take much more time.

Plastic razor

Plastic razors look like razor blades, but are made of a hard type of plastic. This plastic might be strong and hard enough to push the overspray off the surface, but it won’t be hard enough to make a scratch in the paintwork.

Soaking in oils/solvents

Mineral spirits or vaseline can loosen up the paint specks, making them easy enough to remove. However, this often works best on relatively fresh overspray. After soaking, it should be much easier to remove by clay, or even a MF towel.

Solutions NOT to use

Certain techniques should be avoided, because of the increased risk of causing damage.

Razorblade (or similar)

Razorblades or glass-scrapers can easily damage or scratch the paintwork underneath the overspray. Because you might need pressure on some specks, there is a risk of loosing control and make a long and/or deep scratch.

Polishing machine

Polish might be able to remove the specks of overspray, but because of the turning motion, it will result in those specks being dragged over the paintwork. Potentially making many deep and long surface imperfections.

Different related articles

  • What is polishing
    Polishing is the act of using a light abrasive product to remove a very thin layer from the surface that gets polished. Usually this process is preceded by a very thorough cleaning of the surface....
  • Detailing in detail – a detailed description
    How do you achieve the results from the videos about detailing? What is being shown in the video, and why? How can you learn from a video showing a detailer in action?...
  • Nanoskin
    Nanoskin is a California, America based manufacturer and distributor of detailing products with a focus on nano-technology. The brand has 4 sub-brands under which the different products are sold....
  • The best snowfoam
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    It is often asked on detailing fora and social media: "what is the best snowfoam". Off course there is a difference between certain products and brands, but it is important to know what you are asking. In this guide I will try to explain what the problem is with this question unless it is asked more in-depth....
  • What is mechanical decontamination
    Mechanical decontamination is the opposite of chemical decontamination. Whereas chemical decontamination removes contamination from a surface without any physical interaction, mechanical decontamination doesn't require any chemicals and relies solely on physical interaction. ...
  • What is a pre-wax cleaner
    Detailing Miscellaneous
    A pre-wax cleaner is a product that helps to prepare the surface for a layer of wax, the effects the product can have can differ from just preparation by cleaning, to filling swirls (like a glaze) and leaving an oily residue for added gloss....

Links to this article

This article currently has one link


Stay up to date with our free newsletter
Always be the first to know about new updates, articles and other informative content.
Don't miss out, opt in!
We respect your privacy. No data is used for anything other than sending the newsletter!