How and why does acetone not dissolve polypropylene

What is acetone Everything about the cleaning agent acetone

Acetone is a widely used cleaning agent. Similar to petroleum ether, it is used to loosen all kinds of dirt. Used correctly, it can be highly effective. However, if used incorrectly, acetone can cause great damage. This applies both to the cleaned items and to your own health. In this text you can read everything about what is important when dealing with acetone.

Acetone is a colorless liquid with a pungent odor. It is a very effective solvent and is often used to clean surfaces. It is a by-product in the production of Plexiglas and is therefore available in large quantities and very inexpensively. Acetone is volatile and very easily flammable. That doesn't make it completely safe.

Acetone is a substance that is naturally produced in small quantities. Raspberries, for example, are relatively rich in acetone, as they owe their fragrance to this substance. Under certain circumstances, your own human body is also able to produce acetone. This has both good and bad properties: it is absorbed and broken down by the body, but overdosing can lead to serious health problems.

Acetone was first synthesized in 1606. Various processes have been used to manufacture it over the years. For a long time, its extraction from wood was the most common form of production. Today acetone is mainly used in the production of Plexiglas. Chemical processes are used to produce it. Roughly speaking, acetone is a modification of alcohols, which explains its solubility in water and its good absorption by the human body.

Residues of acetone are considered hazardous substances. It must therefore always be disposed of professionally. In addition to the acceptance points, the acetone sales points are also obliged to accept the remaining quantities. Simply dumping it down the sink or picking it up in the great outdoors is severely punished.

Use of acetone

Acetone is a chemical that has found numerous uses. The most common uses of acetone today are:

  • Solvent for resin, oil and fat deposits
  • Cleaning agents for surfaces, machines and pipes
  • Stripping paint from furniture
  • Degreasing surfaces in preparation for painting
  • Degreasing of circuit boards in electronics
  • Synthesizing chemical products
  • Manufacture of acrylic materials
  • Ingredient for plastic glue (plasticizer, the glue hardens when the acetone evaporates)



Acetone is colorless, has an intense odor reminiscent of raspberries and is easily combustible. Its boiling point is 56 ° C. Gradual evaporation starts at around 20 ° C. Then acetone produces a highly flammable atmosphere in its environment. In addition, it already attacks the surrounding surfaces. Acetone freezes at -95 ° C. However, it can be ignited from -20 °. Acetone can be diluted as required. This can be useful for its application. Acetone is toxic and harmful to the skin. But it is not carcinogenic.

Correct handling

Improper handling of acetone poses short-term and long-term dangers. In the short term, inhaling acetone can lead to dizziness and even loss of consciousness. In the event of skin contact, the cleaning agent degreases very strongly, which can lead to eczema. It is also easily absorbed by the skin and thus enters the bloodstream. There it can again cause nausea and dizziness.

Protective measures when handling acetone

The most important protective measure when handling acetone is to ensure good ventilation. Windows must be opened and set to "draft". If larger amounts of acetone are used, an additional fan can help reduce contact. In the professional use of acetone, ventilation and extraction systems are mandatory.

Use acetone

Acetone for cleaning the nails

Acetone is very popular as a nail polish remover. The agent bought under the name is already diluted, so direct skin contact is not so dangerous. If the pure acetone is to be used, we recommend a 50:50 dilution. Acetone is also not the healthiest thing for the nail itself. A cotton swab is best for removing.

Clean plastics with acetone

Cleaning plastics with acetone is particularly tricky. If the plastic surface is oily or gummy, the temptation is always to wipe it off generously with acetone. But you can get a nasty surprise. Polystyrene dissolves completely, for example when acetone is added. Under certain circumstances, this can be wanted - PU foam guns, molds or unwanted adhesions with this foam plastic can be cleaned particularly well with it.

You can easily determine which type of plastic was used on the product that you want to clean: You will find a small triangle on each plastic product. Below is a combination of letters. This is the plastic used.

We list here which plastics are compatible with acetone and which are not:

  • HDPE: These are "High-Density Poly Ethylene" It is used to make sheets and pipes. Foils and bottles are also made from it. It is very resistant to acetone.
  • LDPE: These are “Low-Density Polyethylene”. It has a lower density than HDPE, which makes it lighter. However, it also has only a limited resistance to acetone.
  • PA: This is polyamide, which is mainly known under the name "nylon". In addition to the famous stockings, many technical products are also made from them. It is very resistant to acetone.
  • PC: Polycarbonate is a plastic compound that contains carbon. It is used for technically highly resilient, transparent plastic applications. The windows of airplanes or blank CDs are made from PC, for example. Acetone is absolutely not suitable for its cleaning. It immediately becomes cloudy and dissolves.
  • PP: Polypropylene is a more widely used general-purpose plastic. It is used for solid and foamed products. It can be cleaned well with acetone.
  • PVC: Polyvinyl chloride is used in the manufacture of floor coverings and other products. It's widespread. It does not get along well with acetone. This is especially true for the soft PVC products. They are immediately dissolved by acetone and cause discoloration and holes.
  • Silicone: With silicone, on the other hand, the use of acetone is harmless. It can be used very well against mold growth in silicone joints.

If you are not sure how the acetone behaves with the plastic, only one test will help: A dark cloth soaked with acetone is rubbed over the plastic in an inconspicuous place. If you also rub material from the surface in the process, you should by no means continue. However, if the plastic remains unaffected by the acetone, it can be used without hesitation. This can go so far that heavily soiled plastic objects are placed in an acetone bath for hours to clean.

Clean metals

With metals, too, one must exercise expertise and caution when using acetone. Acetone is completely uncritical when cleaning aluminum, iron and stainless steel. In the case of copper and copper-containing metals, however, acetone causes immediate corrosion. This makes acetone only conditionally suitable for cleaning bronze or brass. Both mixed metals have a large amount of copper and can discolour when treated with acetone.

Clean coated metals with acetone

Metals can be coated in a wide variety of ways. If you want high-gloss products, galvanic processes such as chrome plating are often used. Galvanized surfaces are not very beautiful, but they are very resistant to corrosion. Both types of coating go well with cleaning with acetone.

Surfaces glued with veneers and foils can react differently:

  • The color can come off
  • The coating itself can dissolve
  • The adhesive in the coating can come off

Since stickers or adhesive foils are always mixed materials, the use of acetone is not recommended here.

Powder-coated surfaces react very differently to attempts at cleaning with acetone. Powder coating involves spraying a product, usually made of metal, with a fine powder. It is then heated in an oven to the melting point of the powder. The powder melts and forms a closed surface. It is an inexpensive and quick way to produce a closed and shiny surface. Powder coating usually also has good properties for corrosion protection. When using acetone, it is important to know in advance which plastic powder has been used to coat the product. The choices are:

  • Polyurethane: The use of acetone is not recommended
  • PVC: The use of acetone is not recommended
  • Acrylic: The use of acetone is not recommended
  • Polyamide: The use of acetone is harmless

In summary, it is better to avoid acetone when cleaning the surfaces of products that have been coated with plastic powder.

Acetone on painted surfaces, especially when it comes to two-component paints, can quickly lead to serious damage. It is more suitable for paint stripping or degreasing when a product is to be repainted.

Here, too, a small test on an inconspicuous spot can be used to determine whether acetone is suitable for cleaning the surface.

All-purpose means

as a mold remover

The good news is: Acetone is highly effective as a mold killer. It penetrates deep into the infected areas and fights the spores down to their roots. However, the more undiluted it is used, the more effective it is. However, this makes it very difficult to use. In order to effectively combat mold over a large area, a lot of acetone must be used and long-lasting ventilation must be guaranteed at the same time. Otherwise there is not only a risk of damage to health. Above all, the generous use of acetone in closed rooms creates a high risk of explosion. We therefore recommend not using acetone to combat mold. Chlorine, for example, is just as effective, but at least in terms of fire hazard it is considerably less dangerous. However, good ventilation is also mandatory when using chlorine.

as a stain remover

Treating stains on upholstery or clothing with acetone is a major risk. If everything else, such as washing or stain remover, did not help, an attempt can be made. To do this, however, an inconspicuous area should always be checked to see how the substance is compatible with acetone. Covers from upholstery are always removed before treatment with acetone: Even if the acetone is compatible with the cover fabric, the foam underneath will certainly be dissolved by the acetone.

as a grill lighter

Acetone can definitely be used to kindle stubborn hard coal or slightly damp wood. However, all precautionary measures should be observed here. We strongly advise against using acetone for this. The commercially available grill lighters are much safer and better suited for this purpose. It can also not be ruled out that the acetone spoils the taste of the grilled meat. The acetone must never be poured directly into the fire or into the remaining embers !! This is a free ticket to hospital with severe burns.


Acetone is an inexpensive but very dangerous cleaning agent. It must urgently be kept out of the reach of children. Little boys especially like “Zündeln”. When playing with an open fire, acetone can quickly cause serious or fatal injuries. Adolescents should also be denied access to acetone. In other countries, the use of acetone as a "sniff" has already led to massive drug problems. Abuse of acetone can even cause permanent brain damage. Therefore, never underestimate this remedy, even if it is inexpensive and highly efficient. A liter bottle of acetone costs just three to five euros. Nevertheless, it is a dangerous substance that must be handled responsibly.

Tips for fast readers

  • Keep out of the reach of children
  • test beforehand on inconspicuous areas
  • use properly
  • always ensure good ventilation
  • Do not smoke when using acetone
  • Use sparingly and dilute if necessary