Cleaning Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner: How To?

Cleaning a catalytic converter can be a tricky job, but you have to do it. One of the most asked questions about cleaning a catalytic converter is if a lacquer thinner can clean it. So now, we will talk about that. But let’s define first what is a catalytic converter and a lacquer thinner. 

A catalytic converter is a device. It is a device used to decrease the emissions coming from an internal combustion engine used in modern vehicles today. In addition, a catalytic converter is used in exhaust systems. 

This provides a site for the oxidation and reduction of toxic by-products such as hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and nitrogen oxides. On the other hand, a lacquer thinner is produced with butyl acetate, acetone, and other chemical solvents. These solvents can dissolve the plastics and the coatings of modern lacquers. 

So now, there have been rumors that you can use lacquer thinner to clean your catalytic converter. If you want to know if this is true and safe to do, stay and keep reading.

Cleaning Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner

Does Lacquer Thinner Clean Catalytic Converters?

The people are divided when it comes to the answer to this question. Some people would say that you can use lacquer thinner and clean your catalytic converters. On the other hand, some people would also say that doing such is not an option because it can harm your vehicle. 

So using a lacquer thinner will not clean your catalytic converter. A lacquer thinner will burn along with the gasoline. With this, the combustion products will be chemically similar to those of if you will use lacquer thinner to clean your catalytic converter, it will have no effect at all. 

If you use lacquer thinner, it will dissolve some gums and put it in your fuel system. As a result, it will badly affect your seals, hoses, and gaskets.

How To Clean Catalytic Converter With Lacquer Thinner?

If you want to use lacquer thinner to clean your catalytic converter, you can pour the amount of the product inside your gas tank. Before doing this, it is essential to have a near-empty tank. But so many people would say no to using a lacquer thinner in cleaning your catalytic converter. 

You might have seen so many guides or recommendations to use lacquer thinner in cleaning your catalytic converter, but this is not recommended. This is because the solvents that you find inside the lacquer thinner will break down the build-up blocking the converter. But you should know products like these are not explicitly made to be used in cleaning a catalytic converter. 

You will have to swallow down some risks in using this product, and they will cause internal damage and might cause you more money than you would usually. So instead of using a lacquer thinner, use those products intended to clean your catalytic converter in the first place.

Is Lacquer Thinner Good For Cleaning Catalytic Converters?

The answer to this question can tend to be subjective. It should be objective, but there are just people saying yes, and people are saying no. The majority, though, would say no. 

Do not use lacquer thinner in cleaning catalytic converters. A lacquer thinner has corrosive compounds. These corrosive compounds are acetone and some other compounds. 

And your vehicle and your fuel system have many sensitive components and parts like plastic parts and rubber fittings. If you see a corrosive compound like lacquer thinner, it will damage the components, depreciate the rubber fittings and lines, and melt the plastic parts. And even if you will pursue this line of using this lacquer thinner to clean your catalytic converter, the lacquer thinner will not reach. 

You will melt the rubber and the plastic parts in your fuel system. Your catalytic converter is already operating at a very high temperature, and if you use that lacquer thinner, it will increase the heat, and there will be combustion. 

With that move, you will have the risk of damaging your wires in the tank, your fuel pump, the fuel gauge sending unit, the fuel filter, and many other components inside your vehicle.  With these risks, it would always be better to forget this recommendation and use those specifically made and produced products to clean your catalytic converter.

What Is The Best Cleaner For Catalytic Converter?

You can try the Cataclean engine and catalytic converter cleaner. This sixteen oz. bottle of Cataclean is considered one of the best products and cleaners you can use to clean your catalytic converter. It can also be used to clean your oxygen sensors.

This cleaner might be budget-friendly because it can be pretty expensive, but it has excellent reviews and an excellent reputation for cleaning your catalytic converter.


In summary, people ask questions about whether they can use lacquer thinner to clean their catalytic converter. Unfortunately, this confuses people because some say no and say yes to using the lacquer thinner. 

However, the majority say not to use the lacquer thinner because it can burn other engine parts. Therefore, it is recommended to use the product that is intended for cleaning the catalytic converter.

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Image credits – Canva

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My name is Hank, and I've been in the automotive industry for 27 years. I've been working in my own auto repair shop for the last 13 years, and now I want to help you here, on my blog. Let me know if you have any questions. Read more