DIY Panel Wipe: How to Make an IPA Panel Prep

DIY Panel Wipe: How to Make an IPA Panel Prep

Whenever you are prepping a vehicle for a paint sealant, ceramic coating or graphene coating, or even a traditional wax; you want the vehicle’s paint to be as clean and clear as can be. There are many steps in prepping your car for a paint protection or a new coating and the prep work is the most important part. This is where a panel prep or IPA solution comes in.

What is a Panel Wipe?

A panel wipe or panel prep is traditionally a solution of distilled water and Isopropyl Alcohol. Many people refer to this as an IPA wipe because of the main active ingredient is Isopropyl Alcohol. A panel wipe or IPA wipe is used to clean and remove excess compounds, polishes, wax, oils, and other contaminants from your paint’s clear coat. This solution should be used throughout the paint correction process to ensure you are working with the most clean surface you can. There are premade and ready-to-use panel preps from brands like Adam’s Polishes, GYEON, GTECHNIC, and many more but you can save yourself a few bucks by creating your own DIY IPA panel prep. 

Why Use an IPA Wipe?

Using a panel prep is not rocket science and like we stated above it mainly is another level of decontamination on your paint. While compounds, polishes, and glazes are not necessarily contaminants, they can leave behind excess material that can interfere with the next stage in your paint correction or detail process. An IPA solution can strip the remaining compounds and polishes to remove any fillers left behind so the next product can do its job as it is intended. After every step of paint correction we recommend a wipe down with panel prep and when you use your last product we recommend it again before laying down any paint protection. You will be able to feel the difference in the surface after you use the IPA wipe and for something so simple it is crazy not to use it.

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How to Make Your Own Panel Prep?

Making your own DIY IPA wipe is simple, all you need is distilled water and Isopropyl Alcohol. The trickier part is mixing the solution to an effective yet safe level. Many bottles of Isopropyl Alcohol usually come in 50%, 70%, or 91% strengths. 50% Isopropyl Alcohol is the easiest to mix and get to a usable ratio. If you can get 50% strength Isopropyl Alcohol we recommend grabbing it and you do not need a large bottle as 16 ounces will go a long way. Anything stronger can be harder to find because that can be used as a sanitizing solution and in the current COVID crisis it is not something you need to waste on your car any way. 

Many people may wonder why you would use distilled water and not tap water but it is simple. Distilled water is the purest water you can use and tap water may contain other chemicals like chlorine and fluoride that you really do not need polluting your solution. Distilled water can be found at any big box store and comes in gallon containers and is extremely inexpensive. 

One pro tip to add-in is that you should buy clear Isopropyl Alcohol and not bottles that are green or tinted another color. Again, you do not need any added chemicals to your mixture.

What Ratio IPA Wipe Should You Make?

Like we stated before, the tricky part is in the mix and ratio you prepare from the Isopropyl Alcohol and distilled water. We try and mix a 12.5% solution because it is the simplest ratio to make but you are safe to be in the 10-25% range. To achieve our 12.5% mix we use 8 ounces of 50% IPA and 16 ounces of distilled water. If you would mix these 1 to 1 you would be at a 25% IPA solution so we double the distilled water to 1 part Isopropyl Alcohol. We then transfer this to a BPA-Free 32 ounce spray bottle. A high quality spray bottle can last a long time and can be adjusted to allow you to mist or stream the mixture onto the vehicle’s surface or into a microfiber towel.

If you started with a 70% Isopropyl Alcohol solution you would end up at 35% if you mixed the distilled water and alcohol 1 to 1. If you double the water and use  one part of 70% alcohol you would get a 17.5% IPA wipe which is a good strength that is easy to use and won’t harm anything. 

What Else Can You Use IPA Panel Wipe For?

Paint correction is the most popular process for using an IPA panel prep solution and wipe but you can use your DIY IPA mixture for much more. We use our DIY panel prep for cleaning off residue from clay barring, cleaning glass and car windows, and even during the headlight restoration process. 

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