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Can I Use Acetone for Cleaning?

Acetone can be used to remove old paint.
Nail polish remover often includes acetone.
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  • Written By: Dee S.
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 18 August 2014
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Acetone can be used for cleaning. Generally, acetone is considered a solvent, meaning that it can dissolve organic substances, such as grease, paint, and glue. These substances can be removed from metal, glass, or a host of other materials. There are many benefits to using acetone for cleaning, such as its effectiveness, its low toxicity level and its inexpensive price. Since it is a chemical, there are some side effects that are associated with inhaling, consuming, or touching it, but the risks are still thought to be low, particularly if gloves and other protective gear are used. As it is highly flammable, however, care should be taken before using acetone to clean.

Since it works as a solvent, acetone is commonly used to clean many substances. For example, it is often used to degrease or degum mechanical equipment. It works to remove wax, glue, oil, and grease easily from any object made of glass or metal. It also has been used for years to strip or remove paint, lacquer, or varnish as well. Some coin collectors even use it to remove dirt and grime from their collections.

Although a direct application of acetone for cleaning is possible, it is also common to use pre-made solutions that contain an acetone mixture. For example, fingernail polish remover is a popular diluted acetone solution used to strip away fingernail polish from fingernails, metal, or other materials. Many household cleaners, paint removers, or detergents contain acetone as well.

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There are many benefits to using acetone for cleaning. For example, it is relatively inexpensive when compared to other cleaners. In addition, when used properly, it is believed to have a low level of toxicity and, consequently, low health risks to people. The colorless acetone also will dry quicker than water, making it a popular way to clean equipment or other items efficiently and effectively. Lastly, since it is water soluble, it is believed to have a low environmental risk as well.

As with any chemical, using acetone for cleaning must be done with caution. For example, it should not be used on fabric, wood, or any item that might dissolve. In addition, since it is flammable, it should not be used near a flame. Proper ventilation, such as an open window, should be used and protective gear, such as gloves and goggles, should always be worn when using it for cleaning. If it is inhaled in high concentrations or consumed, emergency medical help should be sought immediately.

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Discuss this Article

helene55
Post 4

I like cleaning coins with acetone. It works well for metal objects that are not really delicate, and is not very expensive. I would not recommend it for fine jewelry, though. For that, silver polish is usually best, or you could as a jeweller if you are not sure.

accordion
Post 3

@Azuza I like acetone for some cleaning, like nail polish, but I agree with you that the smell is a little extreme. I think they do make less harsh varieties of nail polish, though, that are probably less...aromatic...as well as being less toxic overall.

KaBoom
Post 2

@Azuza - I agree, the smell is pretty bad. However, acetone really works well for certain types of cleaning. I actually used it to clean up some super glue I had spilled awhile ago and I was very pleased with the results!

Azuza
Post 1

I use acetone to change my nail polish all the time. I don't know if I could stand to use it for cleaning though. Whenever I use nail polish remover I always go outside on my back porch. The smell is just awful! It literally takes my breath away.

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