Because they are formed of comparable chemicals, spray paint and plastic surfaces do not mix well.
The problem with removing spray paint from plastic is that most solvents, such as nail polish remover or paint thinner, could damage the plastic, making the DIY cure more harmful than the original problem.
If you’ve ever tried to remove spray paint from vinyl siding, you may know that replacing the siding is the only way to fix the problem.
Even if you thought the mess could be turned into colorful graffiti, it is often too small or not in an area you would want such artwork.
In our guide, you can learn much more about how to remove spray paint from plastic. There are easy ways and hard ways, so by the end, you’ll learn a very valuable lesson in making sure you cover up and protect the area around your paint job in the future. (Learn How To Get Sticky Residue Off Plastic)
Luckily, at least you’ll know how to end up with a paint-free surface by removing stubborn paint spills the easy way.
How Do You Remove Dried Paint from Plastic?
When trying to remove spray paint from a plastic surface, extreme caution should be taken. Many of the paint removers on the market contain harsh chemicals and can harm and break down the plastic.
It would help if you were cautious when scrubbing the affected area to avoid chipping and causing scratches.
There are ways to effectively wear rubber gloves and get stuck in to remove unwanted paint with no professional painter.
Here are four ways for how to remove spray paint from plastic
- Paint Scraper/Putty Knife or Razor Blade
- Vegetable Oil
- Nail Polish Remover
- Denatured Alcohol
1. Paint Scraper/Putty Knife or Razor Blade
Although first on the list, leave scraped paint techniques to remove oil-based paint or deal with thick, dried-up paint as a last resort. You can use a paint scraper to remove spray paint from plastic; however, it may not always work. A plastic putty knife or a razor blade is highly suggested for this. (Read Acrylic Vs Latex Paint)
Applying too much pressure while using the scraper to remove excess spray paint can cause the plastic surface to be scratched and damaged.
2. Using Vegetable Oil
To remove the paint from the surface of the plastic, use vegetable oil. Rub the vegetable oil on the paint surface with a tiny rag until the paint fades.
This may not be suitable for all paints and surfaces, and if the paint still doesn’t come off after several efforts, use a stronger solvent.
Other oils, such as olive oil, can remove paint from the plastic surface, albeit they may not be as successful as vegetable oil.
Note: Make sure to avoid lacquer thinner or linseed oil as these can cause plastics to melt.
3. Using Nail Polish Remover
With the help of nail polish removers, here’s a quick way to remove spray paint from plastic. You can use nail polish remover to remove spray paint from the plastic surface and remove nail polish from your fingernails.
With the help of a paper towel or cotton ball, apply a sufficient amount of nail polish remover on the spray paint surface. If the paint still won’t come off after a few rubbings, keep the nail polish remover on the spot for five to ten minutes before rubbing it again.
4. Using Denatured Alcohol
If the paint patch is not wet, paint thinners are usually ineffective. Where other options, such as the above methods of vegetable oils and nail polish remover, fail, you can turn to denatured alcohol to remove spray paint off plastic surfaces.
It’s worth noting, however, that denatured alcohol should be used with caution, and it won’t work on oil-based paint.
When compared to the other options on this list, denatured alcohol is harmful to your health. When removing paint from a plastic surface with denatured alcohol, avoid skin contact and exposure, wear rubber gloves, and make sure you are in a well-ventilated area. Long-term inhalation of denatured alcohol fumes can cause respiratory problems. (Learn How Do I Get Paint Out Of Clothes)
Test it on a small plastic area to ensure that the denatured alcohol does not damage the plastic. If the denatured alcohol is safe to use, apply a generous amount of the solvent to the paint surface, cover it with plastic wrap to stop it from evaporating, and let it sit for a few minutes. The denatured alcohol can now loosen and dissolve the paint.
Scrape the paint off with a plastic putty knife as it wrinkles and crumbles. Remove residual paint from the plastic surfaces using a rag or paper towel.
After removing a significant percentage of the spray paint from the plastic surface with denatured alcohol, soak a sponge in warm water and add detergent. Scrub the area with the sponge to remove any alcohol or other chemicals left on the plastic surface, as well as any paint residue after paint removal.
You can also try isopropyl alcohol if you can’t get your hands on denatured. The rubbing alcohol isn’t as harsh, so it could take several applications to remove the paint stains.
How Do You Remove Dried Spray Paint?
If you’ve tried the above, but your rubbing alcohol won’t work as an effective paint stripper, you’ll need to get a bit more involved.
Painting mishaps can be hard to put right and removing spray paints from plastic is one of the most challenging.
Because the plastic stands a chance of being damaged from the dried paint and the paint thinner, it’s tough to clean safely.
With the steps below, make sure you wear protective gloves and goggles, as you don’t want dried-up paint splatter, mineral spirits, or paint thinners on your face.
It can be a messy and time-consuming operation to remove spray paint, or any other type of paint, from plastic, especially if you don’t have the right tools.
Things you’ll need for removing spray paint from plastic
Warm water: To thoroughly rinse the surface before scraping off the paint, warm water is handy, but it is vital for the rest of the procedure. If the spray paint is still wet, use warm water to remove it.
Soap: If warm water is ineffective, try soaking the surface in soapy water to make the paint easier to scrub off. If this dish soap doesn’t work, at the very least, the surface will be free of any dirt or grime that could interfere with the removal process.
Paper Towels: Paper towels help wipe off paint as it breaks down and are used for scrubbing and cleaning up.
Paint thinner: Paint thinner is a strong option, but it should be used with caution because it can damage the plastic. It’s the last resort, and the safest way is to mix a little with water to test if you can remove the paint while keeping the plastic intact, then increase the paint thinner concentration until the spray paint begins to fade.
Brush: According to how strong the paint is, you may need to scrub it off with a brush as you work. Also useful are a plastic putty knife and a paint scraper.
How To Remove Spray Paint from Plastic Step-by-Step
- Rinse the surface with water
- Try to scrub the paint off with soapy water
- Use a paint thinner and water mixture to remove the paint
- Increase the paint removers until the paint loosens
- Wipe off the excess paint and clean up
1. Rinse with Water
Rinse the surface with warm water.
You may remove wet paint with warm water if you get to it early enough. Rinsing is a useful step in paint removal tasks because there’s always the possibility of a touch of wet paint mixed in with the dried paint after spray painting.
It would help if you cleaned this off before using a paint remover or dish soap since you could spread the paint over a greater affected area and makes removing spray paint more difficult.
2. Scrub the Paint with Soapy Water
If the paint is still on the plastic, try scrubbing to remove quite fresh spray paint.
A brush can be helpful as it allows you to bear down a little more and remove the paint stains with elbow grease.
3. Use a Paint Thinner & Water Mix
Combine a little paint thinner with some clean water.
To start, don’t use over 20% paint thinner or paint stripper because it can quickly damage the plastic. To ensure that the plastic is safe, test a tiny area of it first.
Start removing the paint using the combination if the rubbing alcohol or stripper you’ve chosen hasn’t significantly affected the affected area of spray paint.
4. Increase Paint Thinner Until Paint Fades
If you’re having trouble removing paint, increase the amount of paint thinner until the paint starts to loosen. Latex-based paints may react quicker than oil-based.
5. Wipe Off Excess Paint
Once you’ve made progress, you can wipe off the remaining paint and clean the surface from traces of paint stripper using a clean rag.
If you try to remove paint from plastic too quickly, you risk damaging the plastic underneath, especially if it is costly, like vinyl siding.
A pressure washer may remove some latex paint or paint spots, but you risk harming the plastic surface as well.
Use electric fans to dry extensive areas fast, so mineral spirits or other chemicals don’t try on the surface too long. (Learn How To Remove Sticker Residue From Stainless Steel)
Once you have the proper tools listed above and you have all your cleaning supplies. Make sure you wear gloves, and don’t forget the removed paint and paint remover are hazardous waste.
You can see how to remove paint from plastic is more time-consuming than difficult and can take you a few attempts when dealing with a stubborn paint spot.