How To Remove Spray Paint From Plastic – All You Need To Know

Spray painting plastic is a burdensome task, but not as burdensome as trying to remove the same paint from the material. Plastic, unlike ceramic, wood, or metal, needs to be given more attention, so it will not break. It is highly vulnerable, and a wrong solvent can damage or even melt it. Moreover, many solvents in the market are catered to removing paint from metal or wood, which are inappropriate choices. If you are to remove spray paint from plastic, you need to make sure that you are using the safest and most effective method. Here’s a guide to help you do it.

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Things You Need When Removing Spray Paint From Plastic

Before we start, let’s prepare the materials we will use in the process. Most of these things are probably already in your home, so you do not need to buy them.

For your solvent, you can choose one of these:

Vegetable oil

Though not its primary use, vegetable oil is often used in removing paint stains, especially if the paint is oil-based. It is not a particularly strong solvent, so it cannot damage the plastic.

Nail polish remover

Nail polish removers are usually made of acetone, which is used to remove nail polish, and petroleum-based components, which is made from refined oil and used to dissolve paint.

Denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol is a stronger solvent compared to vegetable oil and nail polish remover. However, it is safer to use than the solvents sold in the market.

You also need the following materials:

Plastic putty knife

A putty knife is a spatula that can be used for scraping surfaces like plastic. Its flat surface makes it perfect for the job. For this process, it is best that you use a plastic putty knife as metal ones might end up damaging the plastic.

Sponge

A sponge is used for cleaning any surface. Since it is soft, it cannot damage the plastic. Moreover, it is good in absorbing solutions like the alcohol, so it is perfect for this job.

Rag or Paper Towel

You need the rag or paper towel as an alternative to a sponge.

Warm water

Warm water can help in loosening layers of paint, so it can make the process much easier.

Detergent

Detergent cannot be used as your main solvent as it cannot remove the paint from plastic by itself. However, like warm water, it can make the job easier.


Step-By-Step To Get Paint Off Plastic

Now that you have all the things you need, you are ready to do the job. Just follow the steps below.

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Step 1 - Get your paint scraper

how to get rid of spray paint from plastic with plastic putty knife

Try getting off the paint from the plastic surface

The first thing you should do is to get your plastic putty knife and try getting the paint from the plastic surface. Be careful in doing so as you do not want to damage the surface. This step is to assess just how stuck the paint is to the surface. When you cannot get any paint using your putty knife, don’t force it. Move on to the next step.

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Step 2 - Use vegetable oil

how to remove spray paint from plastic with vegetable oil

vegetable oil

Place a small amount of vegetable oil in your rag. Rub it over the painted area until you notice the paint starting to come away. Since oil has loosened the paint a bit, you can try scraping the paint using your putty knife again. If it still doesn’t work, try other solvents.

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Step 3 - Use nail polish remover

how to remove spray paint from plastic with nail polish remover

nail polish remover

This time, put the nail polish remover on a rag or paper towel. Rub it over the painted surface. Leave it for about 5-10 minutes. Then, rub the solvent in the area again. By this time, the paint should be slowly fading. However, if it does not, you should try the denatured alcohol instead.

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Step 4 - Use denatured alcohol.

how to remove spray paint from plastic with denatured alcohol

denatured alcohol (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/)

Denatured alcohol is stronger than the vegetable oil or the nail polish remover, so you must be careful in using it. Just apply a small amount to the rag and test it out in a small area. Wait for 5-10 minutes to see if the paint is dissolving. Do not re-apply the solvent as it may damage the material. Once you see the paint is wrinkling, try to scrape it off with your putty knife.

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Step 5 - Remove leftover paint

detergent

Using warm water or detergent to get rid of leftover paint

Once most of the paint is removed, you notice that there are still small traces of them. To complete clean the surface, use warm water or detergent and your rag to scrub the area. Make sure that any residue of paint is completely removed. Otherwise, the spray paint will interfere with new coats of stain, sealant, and paint you want to put on the surface.

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Step 6 - Dry the area

rag-or-paper-towel

Using rag or paper towel to dry the area

Once that’s done, get a new and clean rag and wipe the area again. You can also just leave the area to air dry.


Safety And Helpful Tips When You Remove Spray Paint From Plastic

To make sure that you do the job properly, here are other helpful tips you can use:

  • Nail polish remover can sometimes melt plastic, so don’t overuse it. One to three times is enough.
  • Denatured alcohol is effective for removing paint. However, it will not work for any oil-based paint. If your spray paint is oil-based, your best option is the vegetable oil.
  • Denatured alcohol poses health risks. So, when you use it, make sure that you protect yourself. Do not touch it directly and wear rubber gloves to protect your hands. Wear a respirator to avoid inhaling the alcohol.
  • See to it that space, where you are working, is well ventilated. You do not want to inhale any toxic fumes.
  • Dispose of the scraped paint properly. It is a hazardous waste, so you can’t leave it just lying around.

Conclusion

Removing spray paint should not stress you. If you are worried about whether or not you will end up damaging the material, just remember that all it takes to do it right is choosing the most appropriate solvent. Vegetable oil, nail polish remover, and denatured alcohol are perfectly safe to use.

Has this tutorial been helpful? If you’ve already tried it out, let us know if it has worked for you in the comments section. Share to us your experience.

Ethan Johnson
 

I’m Ethan Johnson. I’m a mechanical engineer, and I’m passionate about Home Improvement. I hope my skills and experience can help you remodel your home by turning simple, inexpensive, and innovative ideas into easy tasks that you can DIY! So no need to go too far, just read on and you’ll be ready to get the ball rolling.

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