How to Remove Paint From Plastic

Use a sponge and detergent to scrub paint from plastic.
  • 1-2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Plastic putty knife
Razor blade
Vegetable oil
Nail polish remover
Paper towel
Rubber gloves
Denatured alcohol
Warm water

It is a tricky task to remove paint from plastic. While it may be easy to strip paint from metal, wood, or ceramic, plastic requires more careful attention to keep the material intact. There are solvents out there that will easily damage or even melt plastic, so make sure to use plastic-safe paint removal products or methods like these.

Step 1 - Use a Paint Scraper

Using a scraper may remove the paint from a plastic product but not all the time. For this, a plastic putty knife or a razor blade would be suitable. With either scraper, however, make sure not to apply too much pressure or you run the risk of scratching up the surface while trying to get rid of the paint. Be especially careful when using a razor blade; it is recommended to use it only as a last resort or when dealing with thick, dried-up paint.

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Step 2 - Try Vegetable Oil

Vegetable oil can be used to loosen the paint on a plastic surface. Place a small amount on a rag and rub the oil onto the affected surface until the paint starts to come away. If the paint does not come off after several attempts, it is best to try other, stronger solvents.

Step 3 - Use Nail Polish Remover

Place a sufficient amount of nail polish remover on the paint and rub it with a paper towel. If the paint does not come off easily, leave the solvent in place for about five to 10 minutes before rubbing again.

Step 4 - Apply Denatured Alcohol

Paint thinner will probably have no effect on paint spots unless they are still wet. But when stronger paints do not succumb to vegetable oil or nail polish remover, denatured alcohol can prove effective for removal. It is important to note, however, that this will only work for latex-based paint and not oil-based paint.

Denatured alcohol poses more health risks than the other solvents so using it calls for more preparation. Before applying the solvent onto the paint, make sure to put on rubber gloves to protect your hands from direct contact. Also, wear a respirator and work in a well-ventilated space if possible. If not, use an electric fan to induce movement of the air within the workspace.

Try a small area with the denatured alcohol first to make sure it will not damage the plastic. When you've confirmed it's safe, place a liberal amount of the solvent on the paint and wait for a few minutes to allow the paint to dissolve. When the paint starts to wrinkle, scrape it off using the plastic putty knife. Use a rag to scrub the area until the paint is removed.

Step 5 - Scrub the Area

After removing a significant amount of the paint on the surface of your plastic, pour warm water on a sponge and add some detergent. Use the sponge to scrub the area to remove the alcohol or any other chemical, as well as any residue of paint.

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