how to remove paint from plastic

How to Remove Paint from Plastic

The mere sight of paint stains and splatters on plastic surfaces such as handles, vinyl plant vase, light switch, appliances and outdoor furniture from a just-concluded painting project is such a killjoy.

Fear not! On the bright side, the malleability of plastics makes it less likely to permanently bond to paints.

Plastics are vulnerable. Therefore, the use of wrong paint stain removal solvents can destroy and cause it to melt.

However, with these safe and effective DIY techniques on how to remove paint from plastic, you can remove paint from any plastic and still leave it intact.

Read Also: Best Paints for Plastic

Materials that Will Come in Handy

The first thing you must know on how to remove paint from plastic is that you do not need to break a bank to carry out these DIY paint cleaning techniques.

Most of the supplies are household materials and tools which you probably already have handy at home.


Make your choice from below:

  • Rubbing alcohol: Rubbing alcohol for example Isopropyl alcohol are good paint dissolvers
  • Vegetable oil: Vegetable oil acts as a lubricant and can be used to loosen the bond between the paint and a plastic surface. Although not as effective compared to other solvents, it works better on oil-based paint stains and poses no risk to the surface of the plastic.
  • Acetone Nail Paint Remover: Nail Paint Removersare a petroleum-based solvent that is made up of acetone. Quite popular in the beauty world as the main remover of nail paints, it is also known to dissolve paint on plastics.

Other materials and tools needed for removing paint from plastic are:

Mild dish soap

Mild dish soap cannot be used as the main paint removal all by itself but when combined with warm water, it makes the cleaning process less of a chore.

The use of soaps with harsh chemicals can cause further complications on plastics because of their easily degradable nature.

Warm Water

Warm water is useful in the paint removal process because it plays a major role in breaking down the bond between paint from plastic surface.

Air Purifying Respirators

Like the one below:

Gas masks or air-purifying respirators help to filter out gaseous particulates out of the air as you breathe. This is important to prevent health hazards.

Work hand gloves

Check the one below:

Rubber gloves preferable. They are recommended for hand protection against petroleum-based solvents. Prolonged exposure to acetone may lead to skin irritation for sensitive skin types.

Putty knife

Putty knives are otherwise known as spatulas. Putty knives are effective in scraping paints off plastic surfaces. A rubber putty knife is highly recommended because a metal one can cause blemishes or damages to the plastic.


The sponge is a material that readily absorbs solvents like alcohol. Its mild texture makes it the best fit for scrubbing and cleaning the surface

Clean Rags or Paper towels

This serves as a substitute to sponges.

How to Remove Paint From Plastic

how to remove paint from plastic

Follow the easy steps below to remove paint from any type of plastic material in your home:

Read Also: How to Clean Paint Off Car

The Mild Soap and Water Method

Washing is the safest method to get stained paint off the surface of the plastic. For effective results, it is best to tackle the paint stain while it is wet. This is when the paint hasn’t adhered properly to the surface for long.

Prepare a bucket of a solution, containing a mixture of warm water and a few drops of mild dish soap. Stir the mixture together to form a lather and medium consistency.

In situations where there is no dish soap, any mild liquid detergent will do.

Dip a clean rag or sponge into the solution. Use it to gently wipe stained areas. Squeeze out excess water from the sponge, for items that may damage when they come in contact with water.

Perform a few passes until you start to see visible changes.

Before dipping, make sure to rinse off the sponge in clean water after each pass.

Gently rinse off the lather and paint residues from the item. For larger items, make use of a hose or bucket. For smaller items make use of a running tap.

Make use of a damp paper towel to wipe off soap residue for non-water resistant items.

You can either air-dry items outdoor in a well-ventilated area or pat dry with a towel.

If the paint stain refuses to come off, perhaps it may be that the paint is already dried up. Proceed to the next method.

Read Also: Best Car Paint Removers

Using Vegetable Oil

As a lubricant, vegetable oil is used to soften the bond between paints and plastic surfaces

Apply a few drops of the vegetable oil on a clean rag and apply onto the paint stain. Apply some elbow grease. After some attempts, you should begin to see visible changes, once the paint begins to soften move to the next method.

If the paint doesn’t loosen, then vegetable oil isn’t suitable for the type of paint. A stronger solvent should be used.

Scrap it off

A rubber putty knife is the best tool for scraping off an already dried paint stain. Its straight edge and flat surface make it easy to lift up dried paint.

While this method is rather effective, take care not to apply too much pressure, this may damage the plastic

For extremely tough paints, use warm water, rubbing alcohol or vegetable oil to soften it before scrapping again.

Be careful not to add to much pressure when using a putty knife to avoid damaging the plastic.

Alternatively, reapply vegetable oil into the paint stain to lubricate and ease the bond. and scrub once more.

Dip a sponge or clean rag into clean water, Squeeze out the excess water. wipe the remnants of the paint from the plastic. Leave to air dry.

Read Also: Best Wood Paint Strippers

Use Nail Paint Remover with Acetone

Place a generous quantity of nail paint remover Super Nail Pure Acetone Polish Remover[/amalinkspro]) onto the paint and apply it with a clean rag. If the stain does not come off easily, leave the solvent in place for about five to 10 minutes before applying again.

Acetone as a petroleum-based solvent readily evaporates when in air, so you may consider another option, which is:

Dampen a paper towel or clean rag with the nail remover solution acetone on it. Rub it all over the stained surface. Leave to sit for duration of 6 – 10 minutes.

Soak the solvent into the spot again. By now, the paint will be gradually losing its bond. However, if no visible change is seen, try the rubbing alcohol method instead.

Use Rubbing Alcohol

Alcohol can also remove paint from plastic. First, apply a little quantity in a hidden spot to ensure it is safe to apply on plastic. When confirmed safe to use, place a generous quantity of solvent on the dried paint.

Do not reapply to avoid the risk of destroying the plastic. Rather, let the rubbing alcohol soak on the paint for about 5 – 10minutes.

When a visible wrinkle is seen on the paint, use the putty spatula to scrape it out. Afterward, wipe the surface with a clean rag to clean paint residue from the surface.

Read Also: Best Way to Remove Paint from Plastic

DIY Hacks and Safety Tips On Plastic Paint Removal

how to remove plastic paint

Unplug electronic appliances before cleaning to prevent electrical mishap.

Alcohol possesses some health risks when used without proper preparation.

Avoid naked flames when using a solvent as some of the liquids mentioned in this guide are petroleum-based solvents. Hence, they are moderately flammable.

Rubbing alcohol is harsher than vegetable oil and acetone. And it poses more health concerns. As a preventive measure to prevent direct contact to bare skin, put on rubber gloves.

In order to avoid inhalation hazards, use a respirator mask at all times. Also, ensure that your workspace is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling toxic chemical fumes.

Use fans to ease air movement if working in an airtight area.

Don’t abuse the solvents. Use as instructed in the product’s guidelines. Excess usage may cause a plastic meltdown.

Always wear your work gloves before handling alcohol. This is to prevent direct contact with bare skin in people with a sensitive skin.

Scraped paint is classified as a hazardous waste and should be handled with caution. Try to dispose of it immediately after work.

Rubbing alcohol should be between the ranges of 91% – 99%. Anything lesser may not be effective.

Avoid using colored nail paint removers; they may likely stain the plastic. Use a normal, acetone-based nail paint remover.

Read Also: Best Paint Removal Heat Guns

Does vinegar remove paint from plastic?

Vinegar can remove dried paint from paintbrushes, according to Reader’s Digest. However, its effectiveness for removing paint from plastic varies depending on several factors, such as how long the paint has set and the type of paint. Dampen a sponge in the warm vinegar and scrub the paint off the plastic.

Does WD 40 Remove plastic paint?

Use a tool to scrape off what you can: choose a tool that won’t scratch the substrate. Tru cooking oils, motor oils, WD-40, etc, — these work best if the paint has only recently dried. It will just soften paint for easier removal.

Does vinegar remove paint?

Yes, vinegar dissolves both water-based paint and oil-based paint from wooden and metal surfaces. It’s a natural paint remover, making it one of the best ways to remove paint.

How do you remove acrylic paint from plastic surfaces?

Ammonia Solution. Good old cheap household ammonia is quite effective in removing semidry and dry acrylic paint from nonporous surfaces, such as metal, glass, and plastics.

Does rubbing alcohol remove paint?

Rubbing alcohol is one of the most versatile cleaning substances you can use, and it’ll work on wood. Latex-based paint can be removed pretty easily with rubbing alcohol. All you need is the alcohol, a rag, and enough time to go over the painted object and wipe away all its painted decorations.

Will paint thinner destroy plastic?

Mineral spirits (paint thinner) won’t hurt most plastics but will attack soft plastics and will slowly dissolve styrofoam. Lacquer thinner will craze acrylics, dissolve soft plastics, and munch styrofoam like cinema popcorn.

How do you get dried paint off a plastic bucket?

Soak a rag in rubbing alcohol and rub thoroughly over the leftover dried paint. Let the alcohol sit for a few minutes and then using a cloth remove the dried paint. Use a latex paint remover and a rag to remove any stubborn dried paint still left behind. Finally, rinse the bucket with soap detergent and warm water.

Will nail polish remover take off paint?

Luckily for you, yes, nail polish remover does remove paint! Nail polish remover is a type of solvent compound that is designed to remove tough materials in nail polish including synthetic resins, plasticizers, and nitrocellulose.

How do you remove dry paint?

Dish soap and a safety razor blade can remove even old, dried-on paint. Mix dish soap with warm water until sudsy, and thoroughly wet the window with a sponge or rag. Hold the razor blade at a 45-degree angle, and carefully scrape the paint away, keeping the glass damp to avoid scratches.

Does acetone remove paint?

Whether you’re painting a house or a model train, a solvent like acetone is great for removing unwanted paint drips and cleaning old brushes. This solvent works very well at removing oil-based paints, enamels and acrylic paint. Acetone works equally well on dried and fresh paint.


Taking off paint stains on plastic shouldn’t be a worrisome task.

Your knowledge on the right kind of plastic, paint type and the type of solvent to use are key factors involved in the procedures of removing paint from plastic effortlessly.

The success of your cleaning project is fully dependent on those factors. Luckily for you, I have provided you with a step by step guide, safety tips and a few hacks.

I hope this step by step guide has the right answers to your quest of knowing how to remove paint from plastic.

Happy cleaning!

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