How To Remove Spray Paint from Plastic (5-Step Guide)

Wondering how to to remove spray paint from plastic? You're in the right place!

In this ProPaintCorner.com Guide, you'll learn:

  • What you need to know about removing spray paint from plastic
  • Supplies you'll need to remove the spray paint
  • The steps you can take to remove spray paint from plastic

And much more!

How to Remove Spray Paint from Plastic

Spray paint and plastic surfaces do not mix well, mainly because they are made of similar chemicals.

The problem with removing spray paint from plastic is that the majority of solvents you would use, like nail polish remover or paint thinner, could also deteriorate the plastic, making the DIY solution more damaging than the problem in the first place.  

If you’ve ever tried to remove spray paint from vinyl siding, you’ll learn that if you do it wrong, the only fix is to replace the siding, which is what we like to call “a learning experience.”

But before you get started removing this spray paint, just know that if you're not careful, you can end up with a much worse problem in the end than just having some excess spray paint on a plastic surface.

So, I highly recommend you keep reading to learn everything you need to know about removing spray paint from your plastic surface!

What You Need to Know About Removing Spray Paint from Plastic

Removing spray paints from plastic is very difficult.  

Because the rubber is liable to be destroyed or at least discolored due to both the dried paint and the paint thinner, it’s tough to get it cleaned safely.  

That’s why patience is one of the most necessary traits when performing this task, because you’ll have to ramp up the strength of the cleaning products you’re using slowly.  

This will help prevent any additional damage and allow your plastic products to escape from the paint unscathed.

Proper personal protective equipment, or PPE, is necessary for this, because you'll be working with strong solvents.  

Make sure to wear gloves and goggles to protect your hands and eyes from getting irritated by the mineral spirits or paint thinners you may be using.  

Hopefully, you can avoid using them, as long as you get to the affected area quickly.  

This is a tricky process, and manual effort with a razor blade or putty knife may be more useful and safe in the end than using chemicals.  

Just remember to be quick and careful with everything you do if you want to salvage the plastic pieces with which you're working.

Read More >> How to Get Spray Paint off a Driveway

Did You Know: Conventional spray paints won't stick to plastic.  That's why manufacturers created specific spray paints for plastic that actually fuse to the plastic surface!

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Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Supplies You’ll Need for Removing Spray Paint from Plastic

When you’re trying to clean spray paint, or any other type of paint, from plastic, it can become a messy and tiresome process, especially if you don’t have the proper tools on hand.  

Unfortunately, this is not a process of trial and error, because any mistakes will cause the plastic to deteriorate, ruining any progress you’ve made.  Here are the most important supplies to have on hand.

  • Warm water - Warm water will be useful to rinse off the surface before you try and remove the paint, but it’s also important for the remainder of the steps.  If the paint is still wet, you may be able to remove it with warm water.  If not, you can use it in conjunction with the soap or to cut the paint remover to make it less likely to damage your plastic.
  • Soap - If warm water doesn’t cut it, try using a soapy water mixture to break down the paint on the surface so that you can scrub it off.  If this dish soap doesn’t work, at least the surface will be cleaned of any dirt or grime that will impact the removal process.
  • Towels - Towels or paper towels are for scrubbing and cleaning up, preventing too much mess and helping to wipe off any paint as it breaks down.
  • Paint thinner/remover - Paint thinner or remover is a heavy duty option, but be careful when using it because of the possibility of damaging the plastic.   It should be seen as a last resort. The best option is to mix a bit with water to see if you can remove the paint and preserve the plastic, increasing the concentration of thinner as you go along. 
  • Brush - Depending on how intense the paint is, you may need a brush to help scrub it off as you’re working.  A plastic putty knife or paint scraper will also be helpful.

How To Remove Spray Paint from Plastic (5-Step Guide)

  1. Rinse the Surface with Water
  2. Try to Scrub the Paint Off with Soapy Water
  3. Use a Paint Thinner/Water Mixture to Remove the Paint
  4. Increase the Paint Thinner until the Paint Comes Off
  5. Wipe Off the Excess Paint and Clean Up

Step 1 - Rinse the Surface with Water 

Take the warm water you have and rinse the surface.  

Like we said earlier, if you get to it early enough, you may be able to remove wet paint with just warm water.  Rinsing is a useful step in paint removal projects because there is always a possibility that there is a bit of wet paint still mixed in with the dried paint.  

You should clean this off before you start using a paint remover or dish soap because it can spread the paint to a larger affected area and give yourself more work.

Step 2 - Try to Scrub the Paint Off with Soapy Water

If the paint is still on the plastic, take some soapy water and try to scrub it off.

The brush will come in handy here, allowing you to bear down a bit better and use elbow grease to help remove the paint.

Step 3 - Use a Paint Thinner/Water Mixture to Remove the Paint 

Mix a bit of paint thinner in with some clean water.

Don’t go higher than 20% paint thinner or paint remover to start with because it can quickly damage the plastic.  Test a small area of the plastic first to make sure that it is safe.  

If the affected area is not drastically impacted by the rubbing alcohol or stripper that you've chosen, go ahead and start using the mixture to remove the paint.

Do not leave it on too long, though, because even if it didn’t immediately cause damage to the plastic, prolonged exposure can still harm the material.

Step 4 - Increase the Paint Thinner Until the Paint Comes Off 

If you’re still having trouble removing the paint, increase the amount of paint thinner little by little.

It’s important to keep checking small spots in case you’ve overdone it, and you’ll need to wipe it off quickly each time to ensure that it doesn’t damage the plastic.

Step 5 - Wipe Off the Excess Paint and Clean Up

Once you’ve started to make progress, you can begin to wipe off the excess paint and clean off your surface.  If you

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Click here to check out our pro painter search tool where we instantly send you free quotes from trusted (and thoroughly vetted) painters in your local area.

Process Takes About 30 Seconds

Other Valuable Resources for Removing Spray Paint from Plastic

This is a tricky process, and the best way to do it is slowly.  

Don’t rush through trying to remove the paint because you can seriously damage the plastic underneath, especially if it is something valuable or important, like the aforementioned vinyl siding.  

If you’re looking for more help trying to figure out how to remove paint from plastic, check out this video that walks you through the process.  

There is a chance that a pressure washer could be used to remove some latex paint or paint stains, but in all likelihood, you run the risk of damaging your plastic surface as well.  In the end, preparation is the best solution.  

If you do run into an issue and have to remove some of the fruits of your spray painting labor, hopefully, you can mitigate the damage and finish off your plastic piece without too much issue.  

If it's a large area, you can use electric fans to try and dry it off quickly so the mineral spirits or other chemicals don't stay on the surface too long.

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

Final Thoughts on Removing Spray Paint from Plastic

It was a tough process, but you did it.  Removing spray paint from any plastic or rubber materials is stressful, but it teaches you a very valuable lesson - don’t let it happen again.  

The best way to clean a piece of plastic from spray paint is to cover it up properly the first time.  

Taking 30 extra minutes to properly tape up drop cloths over your vinyl siding is worth it when the alternative ends up being $500 of vinyl repair because you damaged the siding when you were trying to clean it off.  

If you absolutely must, be careful and patient and take your time when cleaning off of the plastic.

Read More >> How to Get Rid of the Spray Paint Smell

Meet Your Pro Paint Corner Author

Matthew Cain

Matthew Cain

Painting has always been more than just a hobby in my life. Since I first started small painting jobs on the side in high school and early college, I loved the chance to test out new tools and refine my painting skills. In fact, it became much more than a hobby - I used it to pay my way through college and then some while I was looking for jobs after I graduated. I may not be the most seasoned professional on the block, but painting is in my blood - and on most of my shirts. I earned my Master Painter Certification right after college, and I believe the lessons I learned can be useful to others. Hopefully I can help you learn how to not accidentally stain the side of a house while painting a pergola or avoid ruining your brand new table with some off color paint as I teach you how to navigate the world of painting with ProPaintCorner.

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Matthew Cain

Matthew Cain

Painting has always been more than just a hobby in my life. Since I first started small painting jobs on the side in high school and early college, I loved the chance to test out new tools and refine my painting skills. In fact, it became much more than a hobby - I used it to pay my way through college and then some while I was looking for jobs after I graduated. I may not be the most seasoned professional on the block, but painting is in my blood - and on most of my shirts. I earned my Master Painter Certification right after college, and I believe the lessons I learned can be useful to others. Hopefully I can help you learn how to not accidentally stain the side of a house while painting a pergola or avoid ruining your brand new table with some off color paint as I teach you how to navigate the world of painting with ProPaintCorner.

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