how to remove spray paint from plastic
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How To Remove Spray Paint From Plastic With Household Items?

Macarony David
Latest posts by Macarony David (see all)

I like to decorate basic plain plastic ornaments to make them pretty. A touch of spray paint can make anything look fancy.

I love this painting method. But, one of the problems I have to face is how to remove spray paint from my ornament when I make mistakes.

Hence, I had to dig into the web for “how to remove spray paint from plastic.

And for my DIY lover friends out there, I have gathered all the info here. You can enjoy your crafting with fewer problems while using spray paint on plastic.

Also Read: How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Wood?

Ever wanted to try spray painting but were afraid of making mistakes? Let me show you some easy ways to remove spray paint from plastic.

how to remove spray paint from plastic
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Spray painting plastic

Previously, conventional spray paints were not strong enough to sit on plastic surfaces.

But nowadays, plastics are perfect for spray painting. The surface usually does not have rigid or bumpiness, so the paint sits on plastics perfectly. So just a quick wipe to take the dust off and let the area dry. The product is ready to be painted.

However, if you are repainting a plastic surface, first sand and prime the surface to reduce bumpiness.

The paints designed for plastics can smoothly grip the surface, and they will look natural.

Read Also: Best Spray Paint for Anodized Aluminum

Collectedness and time

The paint removal process from plastic requires a lot of time and patience.

Plastics are not the most pressure and stress-durable material. So, while removing the paint, scratches or discoloration can occur, which will damage the material.

To avoid these problems, you need to slowly and carefully separate the unwanted paint residue from plastic.

You also might have to try several different methods before finding the best way that suits the specific plastic.

Therefore, a steady mentality and enough time availability are much needed.

Learning what removes spray paint

Image Credit: Ethan Johnson

It is always best to read the instructions manual provided with the paint to learn the techniques of proper spray painting.

However, it would be best if you were prepared for little accidents no matter how careful or smooth your painting skills are, a splash or error is expected here and there.

So, before starting the paint, make sure to learn a little about the cautions and tips on paint removal methods.

It is always better to be safe than sorry. Therefore, keep paint remover, oil, soap, and precautionary pieces of equipment ready.

Protective measures

While it is essential to be careful to protect the plastic surface from any discoloration and harm, you need to take care of yourself.

You will be using various types of methods of paint removal. The process can consist of different chemicals that could splash or be too harsh.

So, hand gloves, a full-sleeved dress/shirt, and safety goggles are some things that need to be kept handy.

Easily available household products

When thinking of “how to remove spray paint from plastic“, note that the process does not have to be over expensive or complicated.

The solution to paint removal can be easily achievable with things you already have in your house. There are some handy products for cleaning spray paint off of plastic.

  • Dish soaps are a staple in our kitchen sink for cleaning dishes. And it is a perfect ingredient to clean unwanted spray paint spots as well.
  • Vegetable oils are something we use for our everyday cooking. And also, can be used for getting rid of paint splotches.
  • Nail polish removers contain acetone, and most paint thinners contain this ingredient. It can soften up dry paint quickly.

Rubbing alcohol

how to remove spray paint from plastic Rubbing alcohol
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Rubbing alcohols are one of the best ingredients for softening dry paint. No matter how strong or aged the paint is, rubbing alcohol can remove them.

Rubbing alcohols come in many different concentrations. If possible, buy the highest concentration possible.

Soak a rag or brush in the alcohol and slowly start rubbing it over the paint splash. Make sure the whole affected area is covered with alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol evaporates very quickly. Hence, cover the surface with a plastic wrap and let it sit for a few minutes. We could say we are marinating the spot.

Now take off the wrap and rinse the spot with warm water. Most of the paint should come off by now.

If there are paint leftovers, Scrape them off. The paint residue is soft, so scraping them off will be easy.

But keep in mind that the plastic you are cleaning might not be strong enough for alcohol and can become discolored. If you see any damage, quickly rinse off the spot and use gentle methods to clean the area, such as soapy water, oil rubbing, or nail polish remover.

Warm soapy water

v4 460px Remove Paint from Plastic Step 3

Using warm water with soap is a helpful method, but we need quick responsiveness for it to work.

Once you detect the mistakes to correct, rinse the spot with high-temperature water as soon as possible. If you are lucky enough to catch the problem on time, the paint will quickly come off.  

And if this does not affect the spot, use warm soapy water to clean the area slowly. Use a soft brush to clean the unwanted paint spot in a circular motion to avoid spreading the water to unaffected areas.

Try to use dish soap as they give the most satisfying result.

If the paint is still wet, you will be able to take it off. But if the paint is dried down, you might need to follow other methods.

Preparation of dish soap solution to remove the paint

Firstly, mix the dish soap and water into a proper measurement to clean the plastic surface.

You will need about 1 gallon or 4 liters of normal water. Pour in about 3 to 4 teaspoons of dish soap and mix well.

If you want a mild disinfectant value and aromatherapy, add a few drops of essential oil such as lavender, tea tree, or rosemary.

Your soapy water is ready to be used.

Preparation Of Dish Soap Solution To Remove The Paint from plastic
Image Credit: Kitchn

The rubbing method

If the paint starts to dry up and you have already tried water and soap to remove the paint, it is time to grab some oil and start rubbing.

You do not need anything fancy. You need some oil. Cooking oils such as olive oils are good enough. Go and take out your cooking oil for this method.

First, spread the oil on the area you want to clean. Now rub the spot with moderate pressure and wipe it with a rag or washcloth. Repeat the same process a few times.

If the paint comes off, you will notice the peeling paint. But if no change is seen, more abrasive methods are needed.

The scraping method

For this process, you need a plastic putty knife.

First, detect the paint spot you want to remove. Now angle the scraper so that it can scrape or lift off the paint splotch without scratching the plastic surface.

Put a little strength into it but be careful not to damage the material. The paint should scrape off of the surface with little problem.

This method is most accessible and most satisfying if done correctly.

The scrubbing method

Scrubbing is one of the intense methods of paint removal. You will be using some solvent to dissolve the paint and, at the same time, scrub the spot.

This method is done for aged and extremely dry stubborn spray paint removal.

Take some alcohol to soften the paint. You can choose nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.

Wear gloves and a face mask as the alcohol can spritz while scrubbing. Slowly scrub and take the paint off. Do not rush things as it will damage the plastic surface.

What not to use

While knowing what can be used to remove spray paint from plastic is essential, we also need to remember that some stuff is not necessarily good for plastic materials.

Do not use highly potent paint strippers. These can seriously damage and deform the plastic underneath your paint.

Avoid using heavy oils for paint removal.

Harsh concentrated Lacquer thinners are a big no-no for paint removal as they can sometimes thin down and melt the plastic.

Frequently asked questions

Is it okay to use rubbing alcohol to remove spray paints?

Yes, you can use rubbing alcohol to remove spray paints but make sure to do a patch taste as it might damage some materials.

Are the paint strippers too rough on plastic?

Yes, you are correct. Paint strippers are harsh for most plastics. If you have to use paint strippers on plastic, please dilute it with water.

Can you use vinegar to remove spray paint?

Yes. In some cases, vinegar rub can remove spray paints, but it depends on the material you are trying to clean.

Why do I need to wear gloves while using alcohol paint cleaners?

Alcohols are too harsh for the skin on your hand. If you use alcohol-based paint cleaners without wearing any gloves, it will cause sensitivity to your skin and even cause minor burn-like symptoms.

Does baking soda remove paints from plastic?

Yes. Baking soda can remove paints from surfaces, but it works best for metals. It might not work as well on plastics.

Can I use soap to remove spray paint?

Yes. You can. But try to use dish soap or oil-based soaps to remove the spray paint.

Final words

Accidents can happen. But if you are prepared for it, not all accidents cause stress. The answer to “how to remove spray paint from plastic” can be simple, but the process needs patience.

You need to know the correct spray painting methods and proper paint removal procedures simultaneously with an equal amount of importance.

No matter how impossible or complicated the removal process seems, there is a way out to correct your mistakes.

Therefore, master how to make and fix your mistakes to enjoy your crafting experience!

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