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Cleaning Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner

Cleaning Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner

Your catalytic converter has gotten too dirty after a long time of working with harmful emissions. It’s time to get rid of the dirt buildup. But is cleaning catalytic converter with lacquer thinner good?

Drivers have opposing ideas about it. We have tried this method once. The lacquer thinner is good at cleaning stains. However, we noticed some problems after that. 

Today, we will share our experience when cleaning the catalytic converter with lacquer thinner. You can also explore some tips for this task. So let’s scroll down to check!

cleaning catalytic converter with lacquer thinner

Is Cleaning Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner Good?

No. It’s not a good idea to use lacquer thinner to clean the catalytic converter because of the following reasons:

Ingredients of the lacquer thinner

Lacquer thinner can clean stuff thanks to the acetone in its composition. This chemical has a strong cleaning capability. Thus, it can eliminate impurities inside your catalytic converter. 

Unfortunately, acetone can harm the converter, too, because it’s a strong solvent and has corrosive properties. Adding it to the gas tank may damage the converter components by melting the plastic parts and depreciating the rubber lines. 

Sensitivity of the catalyst

A catalytic converter has a delicate catalyst. It will get damaged easily when exposed to harsh and corrosive chemicals like acetone.

How To Clean Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner

How To Clean Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner?

You can use lacquer thinner to clean the clogged catalytic converter since this product has a strong cleaning capacity. However, it can be too harsh and cause damage to the converter. Hence, you need to take extra caution when dealing with this solvent. 

Here is how to clean catalytic converter without removing it. You just need to follow these four steps:

Step 1: Check the catalytic converter

A catalytic converter uses catalysis to transform hazardous pollutants from the internal combustion engine of your car. It also picks up dust and stains while working. Thus, you need to clean it regularly to eliminate dirt buildup. 

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Before cleaning the catalytic converter with a lacquer thinner, check its condition first. For the examination, you will: 

  • Look for any clogged area through the converter’s exterior. Then, the cleaning process will turn out easier. 
  • Find loose parts that obstruct the exhaust gas pipe. You can hit the catalytic converter with a rubber hammer to detect those loose components. 
  • Check for signs of oil leakage within the converter. 

Step 2: Check the lacquer thinner

Only choose the lacquer thinner from reliable stores. Also, remember to check its brand and origin before buying. 

Although it’s a solvent, lacquer thinner from different brands has different ingredients. So check this aspect, too, to choose the best lacquer thinner for catalytic converter.

Read the guidelines and caution carefully before applying the cleaner. This step will help reduce hazards and mistakes while cleaning the catalytic converter with lacquer thinner. 

Step 3: Pour the lacquer thinner into the fuel tank

Before adding the catalytic converter cleaner, recheck the gas tank. It should be empty at this time. Then, remove the stopper of lacquer thinner and pour it gradually into the gas tank. 

Step 4: Take a drive 

After adding the cleaner, you can drive your automobile at different speeds. Start with a speed range of 1,500 to 2,000 RPMs first to warm up the catalytic converters. 

Then, accelerate to 2,500 to more than 3,000 RPMs for about 200 miles to slightly heat the converter. The high temperature can now burn the clogged compounds and pollutants. 

However, the heat may burn the industrial gasses if your tank is full of gas. Hence, remove them from the gas tank before adding the lacquer thinner. 

What Is The Best Cleaner For A Catalytic Converter?

If lacquer thinner is not good, what can I put in gas tank to clean catalytic converter? Luckily, you have multiple options; the ideas below are the most common. 


Cataclean is one of the best solvent cleaners for oxygen sensors and catalytic converters. It can reduce up to 50% emissions and repair the error codes related to the catalytic converter. However, this product is quite expensive. 

Besides, there are some problems while using Cataclean. We have discussed them in this article. Check it, and you can use this cleaner properly and safely. 

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CRC formula

CRC formula breaks down and eliminates carbon from the catalytic converter, fuel injectors, and car engine. The brand also claims a double refund to cement its reliability. 

CRC has a high percentage of success in decoding P0420 error codes. Moreover, it helps your car pass a smog test.


Unlike other cleaners, Solder-It comes with deodorizing elements that can get rid of the nasty odor of toxic fumes.

Ensure your gas tank is a quart-full before pouring Solder-It into it, then drive around. This method will clean your catalytic converter and remove the horrible smells from the gas releases.  


Oxicat is a German cleaning product that can deal with your car’s exhaust system. It gets rid of soot and carbon deposits in the engine, too. 

When applied properly, the cleaner has outstanding cleaning and restorative abilities. Using it to fix the error codes is also a good idea.  


Another excellent catalytic converter cleaner to try is Hi-Gear. It even helps clean the fuel system, valves, and pistons. 

Using Hi-Gear will lead to better engine performance and fuel efficiency. Furthermore, it may fix error codes related to emissions.

Sledgehammer run-rite kit

This cleaner has two products: the induction deposit and ultra cleaner. As a result, you can clean the fuel and exhaust system effectively. 

This solution cleans the fuel system and car engine of carbon and soot buildup. However, due to the input technique, you must release this solvent into the vacuum line of your car. Hence, this complicated method is not suitable for newbies. 

Seafoam Motor Treatment

This product doesn’t aim to clean the catalytic converter at first. Instead, it prevents clogging in the gear. More specifically, it cleans the combustion chamber and fuel injectors, preventing the converter from collecting too much dirt. 

This warranty, though, is only applicable if the car is still in good working order. To operate properly, the cleaner must circulate throughout the engine part.

However, please remember these agents are flammable and dangerous for you and your car. Some demand proper dilution so they don’t rust the catalytic converter. 

What Is The Best Way To Clean A Catalytic Converter?

Using specialized cleaning products is not the only way to clean your car’s catalytic converter. You should consider the following methods, too. 

Do nothing

Interestingly, a catalytic converter can clean itself. The temperature at which it works is high enough to keep it clean. 

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However, if something else besides gasoline burns inside the gear, it may clog the converter. As a result, this component will become overheated. In this case, you need to clean it. 

Use vinegar

Vinegar is an acidic ingredient that can break down carbon buildup. However, to clean catalytic converter with vinegar, you must remove the converter first. 

Then, fully immerse the converter in vinegar and set it aside for a few hours. Remember to agitate the converter a few times so the vinegar can penetrate its interior. 

Clean the converter with soap and water

Using soap and water is a traditional way to clean something. Hence, consider cleaning catalytic converter with soap and water

You need to mix soap and water to form a solution. Then, remove the catalytic converter, immerse it in the mixture, and wait several hours. 

The soap can loosen and dissolve carbon buildup in the converter. Yet, you should still brush it manually to eliminate the dirt.

Use diesel fuel 

Low-sulfur diesel fuel can clean your catalytic converter without damaging it. You should pour about half a cup of fuel into the gas tank. Then, drive about 150 miles to let the fuel dissolve the carbon deposits. 

Diesel fuel is flammable. Hence, you must be careful when handling it. Moreover, if you don’t dilute it properly, it will damage the catalytic converter instead of cleaning it. 

Apply high-octane gasoline 

High-octane gasoline can clean the catalytic converter as well. However, just like diesel fuel, gasoline is flammable. As a result, be careful and dilute it properly before adding it to the gas tank. 

Replace the catalytic converter 

We often want to clean the catalytic converter when it gets clogged or too old. So, if you don’t like the idea of applying those dangerous agents, consider replacing the whole catalytic converter. 

The most significant benefit of the replacement is saving a lot of effort and time. There won’t be any potential risk. 

Furthermore, replacing the clogged converter will prevent other parts of your car from getting affected. 


Cleaning catalytic converter with lacquer thinner is not good as the solvent may damage the gear. If you still want to try this method, do it cautiously. 

There are many other cleaners for this task, such as Cataclean and high-octane gasoline. They clean your catalytic converter effectively, but you should also be aware of the risks. 

Replacing the clogged catalytic converter will be an excellent idea if you don’t want to use those harmful chemicals. This method doesn’t affect any other parts of your car. 

How about you? Will you try to clean the catalytic converter with lacquer thinner? Please comment to share your opinion about this cleaning method. Thank you for reading! 

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