Can a Car Duster Damage Your Car’s Paint?

Are you obsessive about keeping your car clean even though it sits in a garage most of the time? Unfortunately, even if your car has a form of shelter to sit in, it will still gather dust. In that case, using a car duster in between car washes can keep it clean. But can those car dusters damage your car’s paint?

Are car dusters safe for paint?

An attendant runs a feather duster over a Mitsubishi vehicle.
An attendant runs a feather duster over a Mitsubishi vehicle. | Tomohiro Ohsumi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Generally speaking, yes, but it depends on the car duster you use. One of the most popular dusters on the market is the California Car Duster, which is made of 100% cotton strands with wax baked into them. Many users have reported positive reviews. However, some tests have shown that the California Duster can leave minor scratches on the car if used improperly (i.e. applying too much pressure on the brush).

Another type of duster that car owners use is a feather duster. According to some reports from car owners online, most feather dusters will cause minor scratches on the car’s clear coat. The only type of feather duster that seems to work is one made of ostrich feathers.

GM Authority reported that General Motors uses large cylinders covered in ostrich feathers to remove dust from its car during the paint and assembly process. According to the blog, “each of the feathers has microscopic “fingers” that remove fine dust particles through the process of static electricity.” It’s pretty neat stuff; fortunately, car owners can buy ostrich feather dusters on Amazon.

There are also microfiber dusters on the market, which provide a softer dusting surface. However, there are claims from car owners that even these types of dusters can cause micro scratches on a car’s paint.

How to safely remove dust off a car’s surface

A worker cleans a BMW with a duster.
A worker cleans a BMW with a duster. | Kevin Lee/Bloomberg News

If you’re looking to safely remove dust or a thin layer of dirt from your car’s paint, then using a quick detailer spray and a microfiber towel will do the trick. According to Detail DIY, “quick detailer sprays have polymers, a few lubricants, and waxes built into the spray. When you spray the compound onto your car and wipe it away, you’re left with a thin layer of wax. As a result, your car has an added layer of protection and extra shine.”

In that case, wiping your car down with a microfiber towel after spraying on a quick detailer will effectively clean off the dust since the surface will be lubricated. However, it doesn’t replace an actual car wash when it comes to lifting heavier dirt from the paint’s surface.

A car wash is the best way to remove dirt and grime

A duster sits on a Michelin tire. |
A duster sits on a Michelin tire. | Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

While dusters and quick detailers provide a cleaner look to your car’s paint in between washes, there’s nothing like a good car wash to keep the car clean. We recommend washing the car yourself using the two-bucket method and a good car wash soap. However, using a self-serve car wash could work as long as you don’t use the dirty brush that comes with it.

Additionally, a professional paint correction could be in order if your car’s paint is completely scratched and swirled up. In that case, don’t use a duster in between washes, as you may just add more scratches.

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