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Author Topic:   Cleaning with Acetone?
flyfisherman posted 10-20-2008 04:23 PM ET (US)   Profile for flyfisherman   Send Email to flyfisherman  

The guys @ our local boat place suggested using acetone to clean some stains (on the outside of the hull).

I know that's a pretty powerful chemical and hate to use it without the "official" go-ahead from the gurus on here.

I'd imagine if I use it, it would cut thru the wax so I'd probably do the whole outside to make it uniform and then wax it afterward.

Will Acetone hurt the fiberglass?

Am I making more work for myself than necessary?

Am I just obsessed with the Whaler? Sometimes, it seems to me, less is more and I don't want to do any harm...sorta like the oath that doctors take. (G)

glen e posted 10-20-2008 04:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
acetone is fine for gelcoat - it will strip wax - re wax after.....a bit "tamer" substance that works well is toilet bowl cleaner as well - wipe on and wipe off - rinse right away - rewax...
jeffs22outrage posted 10-20-2008 04:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for jeffs22outrage  Send Email to jeffs22outrage     
I use it on my hull to clean off any grease or oil stains. It also does a great job renewing rubrails and plastic tracks along with vinyl cushions. I just wet a clean light colored rag and clean away.
Tele65 posted 10-20-2008 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tele65  Send Email to Tele65     
This is what we use in Italy to remove grease stains from the hull

It's just a toilet cleaner, but very mild with the gelcoat and strong with stains, maybe there's a similar product in US. It's a kind of cream but it's call 'liquid powder'


L H G posted 10-20-2008 05:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for L H G    
Boston Whaler says NEVER to use Acetone on your gelcoat. Before you guys attack me, I'm just the messenger here.

Jeff - To clean grease and oil and other stains, use the Castrol "Degreaser" in the purple bottle. REALLY cleans gelcoat.

jaccoserv posted 10-20-2008 05:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for jaccoserv  Send Email to jaccoserv     
I like laquer thinner as opposed to Acetone.

I do know that acetone will cut through paint(not a problem on a whaler), laquer thinner wil not. Be carefull using solvents on rubrails and tracks as it cleans off any tar, dirt etc., but also removes many UV inhibitors. Have you all seen yellow rubrails?

If you do use acetone, you'd be crazy to do the whole boat, not to mention you'd pass out from the fumes.

pglein posted 10-20-2008 07:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for pglein  Send Email to pglein     
I have a tremendous amount of experience with acetone. My dad ran a fiberglass company for 20 years and we used acetone almost exclusively for cleaning our tools and work areas. It's the only thing that will quickly and effectively remove uncatalized resin.

Will it remove grease marks and scuffs? Yes, of course it will. Will it damage the gelcoat? Probably not, but it could remove oxidation and create a "fresher" looking spot on the hull where applied. Are there other, less dangerous methods of removing scuffs? YES.

I would recommend acetone for removing paint or glue, but not scuff marks. It's just overkill. Even for paint, when I had to remove lettering from the side of my 1984 Outrage, I oped for sandpaper instead. It worked great and after buffing it out, the hull looks new. If you're concerned that your gelcoat might have already been sanded several times and might be too thin to sand again, then I would recommend acetone.

One concern that people have is that acetone will stay on the surface after applied and continue to eat away at the gelcoat or fiberglass. This is NOT true. Acetone evaporates very quickly. You can wipe an area with it and return to it seconds later and it will have already evaporated. It will not "soak in" and continue to break down the chemical bonds in the glass either. Acetone is best used as a way of getting a surface ABSOLUTELY clean prior to painting, gelcoating, or applying a coating of any sort. Wipe with a rag soaked in acetone, and then immediately wipe with a clean dry rag. This is usually a two person job.

Chuck Tribolet posted 10-20-2008 07:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
And keep the acetone off your hands. It's anhydrous and will
suck any water in your skin out. I use it to clean before a
gelcoat repair. I fold up about a half paper towel (Bounty
has some that have perforations on a short interval) and
clamp it in a hemostat, then wet it with acetone.

Use acetone in the driveway, not the garage.

And yes, whaler says don't use acetone. I didn't see that
until I'd been using it for a couple of years, and it doesn't
seem to have caused any problems.

Grease: Car wax takes it right off.


jb4146 posted 10-20-2008 08:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for jb4146    
A useful but nasty solvent. Basically the main ingredient in nail polish remover. Whenever I use it, I always try a small amount on a hidden area, as it will very quickly desolve some materials like plastics, or mar the finish. As Chuck states, it will dry out your skin severely on contact. I believe (not sure) it also can pass through latex, meaning you need to use rubber gloves if working extensively with it.
Tom W Clark posted 10-20-2008 08:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
In spite of what Whaler recommends, acetone is an excellent cleaner.

I have used acetone on Whaler hulls for over twenty years with absolutely no ill effects. It will not harm your Whaler's gel coat.

RJG posted 10-20-2008 09:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for RJG  Send Email to RJG     
Does acetone remove stains left by brakish water?
chopbuster posted 10-20-2008 10:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for chopbuster    
Works well on scuffed up fenders.
mateobosch posted 10-21-2008 12:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for mateobosch  Send Email to mateobosch     
Now that cooler temperatures are upon us, you might be doing your project in a garage or other confined space. Make sure to have a good source of fresh air and adequate ventilation to remove fumes because they are highly flammable. It is possible for a pilot light or electrical device to ignite fumes and cause an explosion. I would suggest keeping a fire extinguisher nearby just in case.

Additionally, it is a matter of some debate on what the health risks associated with using acetone are but it may be a good idea to use a respirator and gloves to protect from possible ill effects.


swist posted 10-21-2008 09:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
The health risks associated with acetone have been pretty much debunked. Millions of women use it daily to remove nail polish and I doubt many of them are careful enough to provide adequate ventilation or protect their hands.

I'm sure if you drink it or breathe concentrated fumes for a long time it will have severe health affects but a little common sense is all that is needed.

When you compare Acetone to some of the other serious solvents around - (MEK, Carbon tet, Methylene Chrloride, etc) it's considerably safer yet very effective.

Contender25 posted 10-21-2008 03:27 PM ET (US)     Profile for Contender25  Send Email to Contender25     
"Does acetone remove stains left by brakish water?"

No, but "On/Off" does this very well, found at your local boating store.

glen e posted 10-21-2008 04:40 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
on/off - 10 bucks at a marine store
sno-bowl - 2 bucks at the grocery

same effectiveness - you decide.....

Feejer posted 10-21-2008 04:47 PM ET (US)     Profile for Feejer  Send Email to Feejer     
Don't any of you guys use alcohol? The other the counter stuff. I've been using is for years on fiberglass boats and it works great for scuff marks and alike
RJG posted 10-21-2008 09:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for RJG  Send Email to RJG     

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