How To Remove Spray Paint From Plastic [Step By Step]

Spray painting can be fun, but that does not stop it from turning messy if you are not careful! 

It is very easy to get paint splatters on plastic surfaces, including handles, switch covers, and other appliances lying around uncovered. And we know that accidents can happen at any time, with anyone, be it DIY enthusiasts or professionals, and there is nothing to worry about.

That said, spray painting involves releasing a lot of paint into the air, which will eventually settle down on the surfaces below. So, covering the surrounding area well is a must before you begin. 

As such, we have created this guide to help you out with the process of removing spray paint from plastic. The entire process has been broken down into steps for a better understanding. Yes, it can be slightly time-consuming, but you will be proud of the end results. 

So, what are you waiting for? Dive in! 

Removing Spray Paint From Plastic

How to remove spray paint from plastic 01

Materials Required

The process of removing spray paint from plastic is not very simple; it can be tiresome and messy. But remember that with the right materials, you can finish the job in no time. 

Before we move on, know that plastic can be easily damaged, so you need to be extremely careful. One mistake could lead to damaging the entire plastic layer. In this section, we have listed down the materials that are required for the job. Please make a note of them and keep them handy before you proceed any further. 

  1. Water

Warm water will be needed throughout the procedure, and you should have a large amount of it beforehand. Not only will it help in removing any wet paint, but it can also be used to mix with paint thinners and soap. 

Moreover, water will keep any surface safe and will prevent chemicals in the paint removers from affecting surfaces. 

  1. Soap

The next item you will need is a bar of soap, and you can use any dish soap for this. 

Soap helps remove any amount of paint that is semi-wet and can be scrubbed off. It will also remove any grime or dirt that might have collected over the top. This will make the surface clean and will aid the cleaning process. 

  1. Paint Removers

This is generally seen as the last resort as it is very strong and can affect plastic layers. Get paint thinners along with a separate container to mix with water. Never use this in concentrated form as it may affect the plastic surface. 

  1. Towels

You can opt for rough cloth towels or paper towels for this job as these would be required for cleaning and scrubbing the paint. They will prevent any awkward mess and will help you clean the top immediately. 

We would suggest that you keep a number of paper towels handy before you begin so that there is no chance of a mess. 

  1. Brush

If paper towels do not work well, you will require brushes for the job. These will help you in cleaning more intensively and will let you scrub the surface well while working. You can replace it with a paint scraper or a putty knife; they will help you in the same way. 

Steps To Removing Spray Paint

The following steps will help you in removing unwanted paint from plastic. Follow them carefully and you should be seeing results immediately. 

Step 1 | Rinsing With Water

The water that needs to be used has to be warmed up before as warm water is way more effective than when it is at normal temperature. Now, if the paint is wet, then you can remove it with just water. This will work well on wet paint or wet bits of paint. 

Remove all the wet parts before you go on to using something stronger like soap and paint thinners. This will prevent the wet paint from spreading over larger areas. 

Step 2 | Using Soap For Scrubbing

Next, you will have to bring out the soap and rub it over the entire affected layer. Take some warm water and mix it with the soap before application. Then keep scrubbing well with a brush, and that should help you get rid of some of the paint. 

If the paint had just dried, this might also help you remove it entirely. You can use elbow grease to remove the paint along with the brush. Now, remember that the brush should have soft bristles if the plastic is thin. The plastic can otherwise be covered with scratches, and that would not be desirable.

Step 3 | Mixing Paint Thinner 

Now, if the paint still remains, you will have to use a paint thinner. This is generally available in concentrated form, and you should not mix too much of it in the beginning as it can damage the plastic. The solution should contain 20% of paint thinner and 80% water, and this has to be tested first. 

For testing, pour a small amount of paint thinner on the corner of the plastic and see if it is affected. If you see no change in its texture, then continue to apply it to the rest of the paint-covered plastic. 

While you have to leave it for some amount of time, make sure that it does not exceed the prescribed time period. This is because although the plastic might not be affected immediately, you might be seeing changes if you leave the thinner on it for a long. 

We will suggest that you apply a small amount to a portion of the paint and watch it for some time. After this, go on to apply more of it to the other portions of the painted surface. 

Step 4 | Increasing The Amount

Now, if the paint still does not come off, you can slowly increase the amount of thinner. But do so in smaller quantities and keep checking on small spots before applying it to the overall surface. 

It’s important to keep in mind that thinner can damage plastic completely if it is used in the wrong amounts. 

Step 5 | Removing Excess Paint

After you see the paint changing to liquid form again, you will need to wipe it off well. This can be done with a piece of cloth, which is preferably semi-rough. You can use one of your old hand towels for the purpose. The slightly rough surface will help in scrubbing the paint, and it can be then removed easily. 

If some of it remains on the top, apply the thinner again and wipe it off. This time, use a lower concentrated solution as most of the paint will already be removed. 

Things To Remember While Painting

Now that you know about the entire process, it is time to move on to some tips that you should remember. These will help you stay protected while getting your job done. 

Know that while you may think that you are just removing paint, it is a type of chemical and may cause damage. Read the following point carefully, and you should be ready to take on projects and clean up the mess! 

  1. Wear Proper Safety Gear

Wearing proper safety gear is a must when you are at the job. This would include proper gloves and PPE if necessary. If you are working with solvents that are in concentrated form, it is essential that you wear a mask. The fumes may not work well with your respiratory system, and taking precautions will just keep you safe. 

Plus, you can wear goggles to keep your eyes safe. While working with mineral spirits, you might accidentally spray some upwards, and that could have disastrous results for your eyes. The goggles will protect your eyes while you work in peace. 

  1. Remaining Patient

Rubber and plastic are prone to get damaged if you are not careful while applying thinners. They can easily get discolored, and you might have to end up spending more money replacing the plastic. 

This is exactly why patience is so necessary while going about the job. Remember to use less amount of thinner first and then increase the quantity slowly as you proceed. This will prevent any extra damage and will keep surfaces safe. 

  1. Test Before Application

Another very important step is the testing process before application. Now plastic can be of different types, and thinner ones can corrode and get discolored easily. Hence, it is best to test your paint thinner solution on one corner of the plastic to check if it reacts. 

While we have already mentioned this, we wanted to highlight the fact as you would want to remember it before using harsh substances. 

  1. Using Rubbing Alcohol

Paint can also be scrubbed off the surface using isopropyl or rubbing alcohol. This is less strong than paint thinners and does not damage the plastic in most cases. Plus, you will easily get it in shops and online stores. 

But we will still recommend you wear a mask and cover your hands before using it. This will protect the skin and prevent it from getting affected by alcohol. 

Also, follow the instructions written on the back of its pack. After application, you will need a rough cloth to scrub off the paint. Repeat the process until you have a clean surface.

Pulverizer lying down at colour test palettes closeup

Final Words

Removing spray paint from plastic surfaces can be stressful as there is always a risk of damaging the plastic. Hence, remember to be more careful the next time you are using it. 

Plus, it is essential to cover everything around before you start spray painting. Tape the areas around edges, trims, or narrow corners while working. Removing paint from hard-to-reach places becomes all the more difficult if you are not careful about it. 

And if you have already got paint sprayed over plastic, try to clean it immediately. If you work on it within the first few minutes, you can get rid of them using just water and a cloth. This will keep the plastic safe and prevent any form of damage as water is not harmful. 

With this, we will take your leave, and you can let us know about any further queries in the comment section below. Happy painting! 

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