How to Remove Spray Paint From Plastic

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Last updated: May 25, 2023

Get the Tips and Hacks of Removing Spray Paint from Plastic in this Expert Painter’s Guide.

How to remove spray paint from plastic.

When working around the home with spray paint, there are bound to be a few spills here and there. Even after trying to cover surfaces from accidental spills, you could still find a few paint splatters on unwanted places like plastic. 

So how best can you remove spray paint from plastic without damaging it? Some solvents can be harsh on plastic, so it’s best to learn the safest spray paint removal methods that will not damage your surface. 

In today’s guide, we will cover the various techniques on how to remove spray paint from plastic, which household products to use, and the best commercial spray paint removers you can use. 

How to Remove Spray Paint From Plastic

Some solvents can harm your plastic substrate. To prevent damage, use safer products like denatured alcohol, vegetable oil, Dettol detergent, oven cleaner, or Isopropyl alcohol. When using paint remover, ensure you use products approved for use on plastic; otherwise, they could eat into your plastic substrate and ruin it.

What Methods for Removing Paint from Plastic Surfaces?

Plastic is a non-porous material that can be delicate if exposed to harsh chemicals. Spray-painting plastic with oil-based paint is pretty easy, but removing the paint is more complicated. 

If you’re wondering how to remove spray paint from plastic surfaces easily and affordably, consider the following household products readily available in your home.  

Dettol Disinfectant

Dettol antiseptic disinfectant is a cheap and convenient way to remove spray paint from plastic surfaces. It’s best used to remove dry acrylic paint, and you can conveniently take it from your bathroom shelf.

If you choose to use Dettol antiseptic disinfectant, follow these steps for best results:

  • Add some Dettol antiseptic disinfectant into a bowl or large container
  • Place the plastic object in the bowl and allow it to soak for a few hours.
  • Remove the plastic item from the bowl and scrub it with a toothbrush
  • Rinse with clean water.

If the plastic object is too large, for example, if it’s a chair, soak a piece of cloth in Dettol, then place it on the surface covered with paint. Allow it to work on the stain for a few hours, then scrub with a toothbrush and rinse. 

Oven Cleaner

Oven cleaner is another effective household solution to stubborn paint on plastic. After spraying the plastic item with the oven cleaner, leave it inside a sealed bag for 24-48 hours, remove it, then brush off the residues, and rinse clean.

Sanding

Although effective, sanding should only be used when you have exhausted other options. If you opt for this method, scrub gently with fine-grit sandpaper, ensuring that you don’t damage the plastic model or alter its patterns.

Isopropanol Alcohol

Using this type of alcohol is similar to using Dettol antiseptic disinfectant. The solution has the same effect and uses the same procedure. 

In a large container, add isopropanol alcohol and soak the item in it. Allow the paint to dissolve for 20 minutes; remove and scrub with a toothbrush before rinsing with clean water. 

If you’re trying to remove enamel paint with this method, it could take longer, so allow it to soak for 2-3 hours. 

How Do You Remove Dried Paint From Plastic?

The above are some of the easiest ways to remove spray paint from plastic using household solutions. 

There are additional professional ways of removing overspray spray paint from plastic and other surfaces. Let’s check them out. 

Scrap With a Putty Knife or Razor Blade

This method is best applied on thick oil-based paint and dried stubborn paint. The scraper paint technique employs a paint scraper, a plastic putty knife, or a razer blade. 

When using this method, avoid applying excessive pressure that may scratch the surface and scrap gently until the paint is gone.  

Use Denatured Alcohol 

Denatured alcohol and rubbing alcohol have similar properties. The cleaning agents produce the same effect, although rubbing alcohol contains natural ingredients that are much safer on the skin. 

However, you must wear working gloves when using denatured alcohol as it can irritate your skin. Using denatured alcohol to remove spray paint from plastic is pretty straightforward.

Start by soaking a clean rag in denatured alcohol and rubbing it on the plastic model covered with paint. Once the paint is loosened, wipe with paper towels or a damp towel. 

Use Distilled Vinegar

Vinegar is a common household item that’s probably lying idle on your kitchen shelf. You can use it to remove spray paint from plastic surfaces. 

Vinegar will be most effective if you’re trying to remove latex or similar water-based paint stains. Begin by heating some distilled vinegar until it’s warm. 

Next, dip a cloth in the warm vinegar and rub it on the painted area. The paint will dissolve almost immediately. Rinse with clean water. 

Use Vegetable Oil

Did you know you can use vegetable oil to remove soft paint particles on your plastic substrate? It’s a cheaper and safer approach to loosening unwanted paint stains on subtle surfaces and eliminating sticker adhesive. 

Simply rub some vegetable or olive oil on the substrate and leave it to work on the paint for several minutes. 

After half an hour, the paint should be loosened and lifted. Use a plastic scraper or toothbrush to remove the paint residues for best results. Finish off by rinsing with enough water and leaving to dry. 

Apply Acetone and Solvents

If you’re looking for something more potent than vegetable oil, acetone or nail polish remover is worth considering. However, for colored plastic models, use acetone. 

Apply the solution directly to the affected area and allow it to dissolve. Next, use warm soapy water and a cloth to wipe the surface. Note that this method should only be used to remove latex paint, especially on hard plastic items like buckets or furniture. 

Use Nail Polish Remover 

Nail polish remover is another household paint removal solution that works great on plastic. 

Since it’s readily available in most homes and easy to use, it’s worth considering when you want to remove paint splatter from your ceramic bathtub or shower walls. 

The best nail polish remover should contain acetone as the main ingredient. Since it easily liquifies dry paint, it’s an ideal paint thinner that will give you the best results within a short time. To use nail polish remover:

  • Take a cotton ball or a clean rag and soak it in the remover.
  • Rub firmly on the surface until the paint begins to loosen. You can even combine it with elbow grease for optimal results.
  • Once the paint has loosens, rinse with lots of warm water.

How Do You Remove Spray Paint From Plastic?

Below is a step-by-step tutorial on how to remove spray paint from plastic using a paint thinner. Here’s a list of what you’ll need to get the job done:

  • Soft bristle brush
  • Warm water
  • Liquid soap
  • Paper towels
  • Paint thinner

Step 1: Rinse with Warm Water

Begin by rinsing the plastic model with warm water. The water must be warmed for best results, so avoid using cold water. 

Otherwise, if the paint is still wet, you can rinse it with lots of cold water. Warming is only necessary for drying or peeling paint. 

Step 2: Scrub with a Brush and Soapy Water

Next, add liquid soap to warm water and scrub the affected area vigorously with a brush.  Also, consider using elbow grease as you scrub with the brush.

Step 3: Apply Paint Thinner

After scrubbing with warm soapy water and elbow grease, you must clear the remaining paint residues. For this step, use a mild paint thinner containing 80% water and 20% thinner. 

To ensure the solution is entirely safe, test it on a conspicuous section of the plastic model and observe its reaction. If there’s no noticeable effect on the texture of your plastic object, apply the rest of the paint thinner to the affected area. 

Please read the instructions on the paint thinner to determine how long you should wait for it to work on the plastic surface. Observe the prescribed waiting time without exceeding it.

Step 4: Wash off the Residues

Once you notice the paint starts to liquify, it’s time to wipe it off from the substrate. Use a semi-rough piece of cloth or hand towel. 

Alternatively, wash it off with a sponge and lots of clean water. If you notice some paint residues left on the surface, scrub with a soft bristle brush or toothbrush and rinse again. 

How to Remove Krylon Spray Paint From Plastic 

Removing Krylon spray paint from the plastic can be challenging but possible. You should avoid using strong chemical solvents that may melt your plastic. 

Therefore, it’s best to use an effective spray paint remover that works best with Krylon paints. 

The Sprayon™ Heavy Duty Paint Remover is a perfect example. It’s a fast-acting formula that penetrates deep into most paint finishes, whether air-dry or baked. 

The Sprayon™ Heavy Duty Paint Remover is also a great option to remove shellac, urethanes, and varnish. So powerful is this product that it can cut through carbon deposits, adhesives, sealants, and gasket cement. 

For best results, follow the usage instructions on the Krylon Sprayon™ Heavy Duty Paint Remover. 

Other safer methods of removing Krylon spray paint from plastic include combining vinegar and dish soap and rubbing or scrubbing the affected surface, followed by a thorough rinse. 

How to Remove Rust-Oleum Spray Paint From Plastic 

Want to know how to remove Rust-Oleum spray paint from plastic? Use isopropyl alcohol. Apply the alcohol over the paint stain and scrub persistently with a sponge. The paint can take some time to come out, so be patient. Once the paint loosens, wipe with old rags or wash off with water. 

How Do You Remove Paint From Plastic Without Damaging It?

Household solutions are much safer to use on plastic than most commercial paint thinners. For example, if you need help determining which paint thinners are safe, use any household cleaner containing pine oil. A good example is Pine-Sol. 

Alternatively, use distilled vinegar, rubbing alcohol, denatured alcohol, or vegetable oil. If using rubbing alcohol, ensure contents are around 91% to 99%.

Our Top Recommendations for Paint Removing Products

If you prefer using commercial spray paint removers that are safe and effective, there are several options worth trying out. 

These products contain no harsh ingredients and can be used on various surfaces besides plastic, so they’re versatile and worth the price. Here are the three best products we recommend for removing paint. 

Best Specialized Paint Remover: MOTSENBOCKER’S Lift Off

If you’re looking for a special product to remove paint stains from your surfaces, look no further than the eco-friendly MOTSENBOCKER’S Lift Off. It’s a water-based paint remover usable on metal, fiberglass, concrete, plastic, and other surfaces. 

What we liked:

  • No toxic chemicals 100% eco-friendly.
  • Versatile and easy to use.
  • Compatible with most surfaces.
  • Can remove various paint types.

What could change:

  • It has a strong, pungent smell.
  • Not suitable for indoor use.

Best All-Around Paint Remover: MR CLEAN Magic Eraser

Consider an all-in-one, moderately packaged product if you want something to remove small amounts of paint stains. In that case, MR CLEAN Magic Eraser is an excellent choice. These effective cleaning pads will eliminate any dirt and stains around the home. 

MR CLEAN Magic Eraser is recommended for cleaning stains on bathtubs, oven doors, light switches, and similar surfaces. It contains no harsh ingredients, making it safe for your plastic items. 
What we like:

  • Multipurpose home cleaner
  • Safe, no toxic chemicals or ingredients.
  • Works on multiple surfaces.
  • Can be refilled and recycled.

What could change:

  • It contains only nine pads 

Most Effective Paint Stripper for Plastic: GOOF OFF Household Heavy Duty Remover

As a heavy-duty paint remover, this product instantly works on plastic, glass, clothing, and other surfaces. GOOF OFF Household Heavy Duty Remover is easy to use. It takes less than five minutes after application to penetrate and dissolve the paint. You can then wipe it off with an absorbent cloth.

What we like:

  • Super effective, perfect for stubborn stains
  • Easy to use
  • Compatible with all surfaces.

What could change:

  • Emits toxic fumes

Pro – Painters Tips for Removing Spray Paint From Plastic

As we have seen, only some paint-removing formulas are safe for plastic models. Therefore always read the instructions from the manufacturer when shopping for a product to ensure it meets your needs. 

Refer to the same instructions before you use any product to remove paint. Otherwise, below are a few pro tips you can consider when removing spray paint. 

  • Avoid using excess pressure when scraping, rubbing, or scrubbing the surface. You ight leave scratches or damaged surface details on your substrate. Use moderate force.
  • Use denatured alcohol to remove paint only. Please do not use it on oil-based paint, and always wear gloves and a mask when working with this solution.
  • Use vegetable oil to remove oil-based paint.
  • Always protect yourself when handling toxic spray solvents and ventilate your workspace well.
  • Practice proper and safe disposal of scrapped paint, which is considered hazardous waste.
  • Ensure you unplug or remove batteries before removing paint from electronic items.
  • Always use a natural bristled brush to remove spray paint residues from plastics.

FAQS: Removing spray paint from plastic

Will vinegar remove spray paint from plastic?

Yes. To use vinegar:

  1. Heat it in the microwave to near boiling point.

  2. Pour the warm vinegar into a bowl and submerge the plastic model into the vinegar to soak it.

  3. Leave for 2-3 hours until the paint is loosened. You can scrape the remaining paint with a plastic paint scraper or razer blade and wash it off with water and a sponge. 

Does rubbing alcohol remove spray paint?

You can use rubbing alcohol to remove spray paint from various surfaces. Rubbing alcohol contains all-natural ingredients that are safe on both plastic and skin. You can apply some of it on a cloth or towel, then rub firmly on the unwanted paint until the paint comes off. Finish by wiping with a damp towel or rinsing with water. 

What will dissolve spray paint?

Effective paint thinners and removal solutions GOOF OFF Household Heavy Duty Remover will dissolve spray paint. Vinegar and acetone can also dissolve paint quickly. Denatured alcohol is perfect for dissolving stubborn latex paint, while vegetable and olive oil easily loosens oil-based paints. 

Can you use Paint Thinners on Plastic?

Yes, but only if they’re deemed safe to use on plastic. Most thinners are not suitable for soft plastic objects or even Styrofoam. It’s best to use safer household solutions like vinegar or vegetable oil. 

What paint remover is safe on plastic?

MOTSENBOCKER’S Lift Off, MR CLEAN Magic Eraser, and GOOF OFF Household Heavy Duty Remover are some of the best paint removers for plastic surfaces. Acetone is another solvent that works best on harder plastic items like outdoor furniture. To stay safe, use rubbing alcohol, oven cleaner, and Dettol antiseptic disinfectant. 

Conclusion: How to Remove Spray Paint From Plastic

There are risks associated with spray paint removal from plastic. However, it can yield good results without issues if done carefully and expertly. You can minimize the amount of spray paint overspray after a painting session by taping, covering, and masking off surfaces and items. 

However, a professional approach to removing the paint is vital in case of accidental spills. In this tutorial, we shared the many methods to remove spray paint stains without damaging your items. Some of these techniques are household solutions you can cheaply source from your house. 

Otherwise, eco-friendly paint removers like MOTSENBOCKER’S Lift Off, MR CLEAN Magic Eraser, and GOOF OFF Household Heavy Duty Remover are excellent options. But it’s much better to clean the paint with water while it’s still wet. Better yet, avoid paint spillage as much as possible when spray painting. 




 


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