Best Way To Remove Spray Paint (A 6-Step Guide)

Spray paint has so many great uses, but it can be messy and very difficult to remove.

Fear not! In this guide, we’ll show you how to safely and effectively clean up spray paint stains from:

  • Your skin
  • Metal
  • Concrete
  • And plastic!
remove spray paint

So, before you randomly try using paint remover or paint thinners to get spray paint off of affected areas, be sure to read on for our best tips!

What You Need To Know About Spray Paint

Spray paint is also known as aerosol paint. It uses a pressurized container for dispersing the paint onto the desired surface. 

Spray painting works better in many cases than the traditional painting process involving brushes.

It provides a smooth finish without any brush strokes. So it’s especially good for applying clear coats of polyurethane and other finishes.

Did you know: Most spray paints are oil-based.  This means that they're not water soluble (like permanent markers) which is why they're harder to remove.

Supplies You'll Need To Remove Spray Paint

Spray paints are either water-based (latex) or oil-based paint. They mostly use solvents made of acetone, lacquer thinner, or paint thinner.

To remove paint stains from skin, walls, metal, concrete, or other surfaces, you will need some (not all) of the following:

  • Pure essential oil
  • Nail polish remover
  • Paint remover
  • Toothbrush
  • Warm water
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Scraper
  • Pressure washer
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable oil
  • Sandpaper
  • Rubber gloves
  • Paper towels
  • Olive oil
  • Paint scraper
  • Steel wool
  • Mineral spirits
  • How To Remove Spray Paint From Your Skin (3 Steps)

    You might experience paint stains on your skin from either non-toxic water-based or oil-based paint. Cleaning affected areas of water-based paints shouldn’t be challenging, but oil-based paints will require more attention.

    Things You Will Need

    • Liquid soap
    • Toothbrush
    • Pure essential oil
    • Paper towel

    Step 1:

    Check the canister to know if it is oil- or water-based paint. For water-based, apply a few drops of liquid dish soap on the affected area of skin. Using your fingers, begin to rub the soap in circular motions for two minutes.

    Step 2

    Place the bristles of the toothbrush under running tap water. Move the brush in circular motions while scrubbing the affected areas. You will eventually eliminate whatever paint remains on the skin. Rinse with warm water to clean up the skin surface.

    Step 3

    For oil-based paint, essential oils, olive oil, or baby oil are all good at removing the paint from affected areas. Simply use the same method as in Step 2...scrub the affected areas and then rinse off with a clean cloth and warm water. 

    When working with essential oils, be sure to avoid contact with eyes as this will cause stinging.

    How To Remove Spray Paint From Metal (6 Steps)

    Metal is a non-porous material, so it shouldn’t prove too difficult to get spray paint off.

    Things You Will Need

  • Baking soda
  • Paint scraper
  • Old cooking pot
  • Rubber gloves
  • Water
  • Clean cloth
  • Safety goggles
  • Paint stripper
  • Respiratory mask
  • Mineral spirits
  • Chip brush for paint remover
  • Step 1:

    Pour baking soda into the base of the pot. The baking soda should form a layer about ⅛” thick at the bottom. Fill the pot with cold water until it’s half-way full.

    Step 2:

    Place the bristles of the toothbrush under running tap water. Move the brush in circular motions while scrubbing the affected areas. You will eventually eliminate whatever paint remains on the skin. Rinse with warm water to clean up the skin surface.

    Step 3

    Remove the metal from the pot by using tongs and place it on a clean cloth or surface. Once the object becomes cool enough to handle, use the paint scraper to remove the loosened paint. Be gentle enough to avoid scratching the metal object.

    Step 4

    When dealing with larger metal objects like metal doors or surfaces. Put on rubber gloves, safety goggles, and a respiratory mask. Using a chip brush, apply a thin layer of paint stripper on the affected areas.

    Step 5

    Read the paint stripper instructions to know the procedure for allowing the stripper to set. Use a scrub brush with hard bristles to gently remove the paint.

    Step 6

    Dampen a clean towel with mineral spirits. Wipe down the metal object to eliminate any leftover paint stripper or flakes. Use a clean cloth to dry off the metal object.

    Read More >> How Do You Get Spray Paint off of Vinyl Siding?

    How To Remove Spray Paint From Concrete (5 Steps)

    Concrete usually absorbs spray paint because it is a porous material. Therefore, you need more supplies and effort to get rid of the paint. You can try either power washing or a Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) cleaning process. 

    TSP is better for indoor use but requires more scrubbing and elbow grease. Power washing is easier but only advisable for removing outdoor overspray and paint stains. 

    Things You Will Need

    • Electric-powered pressure washer of 2,000 to 3,000 psi strength with a spray gun and 15-degree spray nozzle
    • Pump sprayer
    • Safety goggles
    • Rubber gloves
    • Garden hose and water
    • Powdered Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)
    • Hard-bristle scrubbing brush
    • Mop bucket
    • Mop

    Step 1:

    For outdoor paint stains, connect the pressure washer to both the high-pressure hose and the garden hose. Attach the spray wand to the spray gun, and then connect the gun to the high-pressure hose of the pressure washer.

    Make sure to fix the 15-degree spray nozzle to the end of the spray wand. 

    Please note that the narrower the angle of the spray nozzle, the more forceful the water pressure. Do not use an angle narrower than 15-degrees as it can damage the concrete, while a wider nozzle may not produce enough water pressure.

    Step 2:

    Put on your safety goggles. Turn on the pressure washer and the garden hose. Stand about three to four feet away from the paint stains and squeeze the pressure washer trigger to start spraying the stains.

    Use a back-and-forth motion for 15 to 20 seconds. 

    If the paint stains persist, proceed to Step 3.

    Step 3

    For indoor (and outdoor) stains, put on rubber gloves, a respiratory mask, and safety goggles. Pour two gallons of warm water into a five-gallon bucket. Dilute 5 ml of TSP into the bucket.

    Step 4

    Use a hand pump sprayer to spray the TSP onto the affected areas. Let sit for a few minutes before repeating Step 2.

    Or, dip the hard-bristle brush into the diluted TSP solution. Now, scrub the paint off the concrete with plenty of elbow grease. If the stain persists, allow the TSP to soak on the affected spot for about 20 minutes before trying to scrub it again.

    Step 5

    Use the hose to rinse off any outdoor paint debris or a mop and dry towel to clean up any indoor mess.

    Read Our Full Guide >> How to Remove Spray Paint From Concrete

    How To Remove Spray Paint From Plastic (4 Steps)

    Some solvents can cause your plastic to break if you use them to remove paint stains. Therefore, you need a safe paint remover as we’ll outline below.

    Things You Will Need

  • Paint scraper
  • Vegetable oil
  • Nail polish remover
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Step 1:

    Use a paint scraper, putty knife or razor blade to remove stains by making a gentle back-and-forth motion. Be careful to avoid scratching the surface of the plastic.

    Step 2:

    If that doesn’t work, next try using nail polish remover. Apply a sizable amount of nail polish remover on the stained area and use a towel to rub it off. For better results, leave the solvent on the plastic for about five minutes before wiping off.

    Step 3

    And if step 1 or 2 doesn’t work, next try denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol works can work with oil-based stains, but it works best with latex paints. 

    Be sure to use caution to avoid health risks. Wear rubber gloves, respiratory mask, and stay in a well-ventilated area. 

    Use a towel to apply denatured alcohol. After rubbing alcohol on the stained spot, wait for about five minutes for the paint to dissolve. Once the stains begin to peel off, use a razor blade to scrape the paint off the plastic.

    Step 4

    After using any of the methods in steps one to three, pour dish soap into a bowl of warm water. Dip a sponge into the soapy water and wipe the removed paint stain area clean.

    By following the steps above you can remove almost all paint stains successfully. Some processes might require repetition for full paint removal.

    Read Our Full Guide >> How to Remove Spray Paint From Plastic

    Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

    Phil Ash

    Phil Ash

    After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

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    Phil Ash

    Phil Ash

    After running my own painting business and 20+ years of painting experience, I’m still learning new things everyday about how to nail the perfect paint job. In addition to myself, I started Pro Paint Corner to connect you with painting experts to provide unbiased answers to all your painting questions.

    About Pro Paint Corner

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