Does Vinegar Remove Paint? (From Different Surfaces)

Vinegar is an effective stain-removing agent found in virtually every home. It removes anything from oils to grease. But, can vinegar remove paint?

Vinegar doesn’t remove paint completely. The solvent is a mild acid that softens both water and oil-based paints making it easier to scrape off or remove the paint from several surfaces, including glass, plastic, and wood.

Vinegar is classified as a paint remover because it has traces of ethanol which is a key ingredient in making paint-removing solvents.

However, vinegar is an acid and can be corrosive to sensitive materials like rubber, wool, and even metal. So, you should always dilute the vinegar before using it to remove paint from such surfaces.

But that’s not all. There is more to know about using vinegar to remove paint. Let’s check it.

Will Vinegar Dissolve Dried Paint?

Vinegar will dissolve and soften oil-based or water-based undercoat, paint, or sealant that has cured. This is because vinegar is an acetic acid produced from the oxidization of ethanol by acetic bacteria.

Ethanol is a key ingredient in manufacturing alcohol-based paint removers and solvents. The slight concentration of ethanol in the solvent and the acid nature of vinegar means it can dissolve and remove dried paint easily.

However, oil-based sealants especially the moisture-resistant types can be tough to remove when the sealant has cured. You can bypass this problem by using undiluted vinegar to kickstart the removal of such sealants.

Undiluted vinegar will soften the dried coating making it easier to scrape it off with a paint scraper or putty knife. However, undiluted vinegar can be very corrosive and should be handled carefully.

How Long Does It Take For Vinegar To Remove Paint?

How Long Does It Take For Vinegar To Remove Paint

Vinegar takes between 10-20 minutes to remove paint. Vinegar needs to soak in the paint coating for a few minutes, then dissolve and soften the paint to make it easier to scrape off. On average, it will take vinegar 15 minutes to remove paint.

The time it takes for the vinegar to dissolve paint depends on the type of paint, how dry the paint is, and the concentration of vinegar applied.

Vinegar removes water-based paints faster than oil-based paints. That’s because water-based paints have a lower level of oils and chemicals making them easier to soften and dissolve. On average, vinegar will remove water-based paints in 10 minutes.

Vinegar takes longer to remove oil-based paints. On average, it takes 15 minutes to remove oil-based paints due to the high concentration of oils and chemicals in the paint. It takes up to 20 minutes to remove oil-based sealants.

The more coats of paint the surface has, the longer it takes vinegar to soak and dissolve the paint. Vinegar takes longer to remove cured paints, but it removes fresh or wet paint within 1 minute. 

How To Use Vinegar To Remove Paint?

Removing paint with vinegar isn’t difficult. But you should exercise caution and care because the wrong application can ruin the material or surface underneath the paint. Here are the tools that you need:

  1. A bottle of distilled vinegar
  2. A pair of gloves
  3. A paint scraper or putty knife
  4. A bucket of warm water
  5. Clean rags
  6. A clock or timer

Here is a quick rundown on how to do it:

  1. Mix equal parts of hot distilled vinegar with water
  2. Dip a clean rag in the mixture and dab the paint
  3. Scrape the paint off after a few minutes
  4. Wipe the surface

Now, let’s get to work.

1. Mix Equal Parts of Vinegar With Water

Mix Equal Parts of Vinegar With Water

The first step is to dilute the vinegar —  vinegar is an acid and it’s not advised to use it directly.

Mix equal parts of vinegar with water in a clean bucket (1:1 ratio) for oil-based paints and sealants. This is because oil-based paints are tougher to remove and you need a stronger solution.

For water-based paints, mix the vinegar and water in a ratio of 1:3 (one part vinegar to 3 parts water) since water-based paints are not difficult to remove.

Contrary to people’s beliefs, you shouldn’t boil vinegar before mixing it with water to increase its potency. That’s because the acetic acid in the vinegar will evaporate while being heated.

Boiled vinegar is also very corrosive. So, to be safer, just mix the vinegar with water.

2. Dip A Clean Rag In The Solution

Dip A Clean Rag In The Solution

After mixing vinegar with water:

  1. Dip a rag in the mixture and let it soak.
  2. Use the rag to dampen the paint.
  3. When this is done, leave the paint for 15 minutes.

3. Scrape The Paint

Scrape The Paint

After 15 minutes, use a paint scraper or putty knife to remove the paint from the surface. The vinegar will soften the paint coating, making it much easier to scrape off. Ensure to scrape off as much paint as you can from the surface.

If you are removing water-based paint, you don’t have to wait 15 minutes. If you see the paint starting to melt, turn liquid, discolor, or you see bubbles in the paint coating, you can start scraping the paint. These signs show that the vinegar has dissolved the paint so you can scrape it.

4. Wipe The Surface

Wipe The Surface

After you remove the paint using vinegar, wipe the surface with a clean rag and soapy water. For porous surfaces like wood, don’t pour the water on the wood as it can soak into the wood. Instead, dampen a rag with soapy water and use it to wipe the surface.

This step helps clean the material so it’s ready for prep work and painting.

Different Surfaces Vinegar Removes Paint From:


Vinegar can remove paint from concrete surfaces. On average, vinegar takes less than 20 minutes to remove paint from concrete. Vinegar is also safe to use on concrete as there is a low risk of corrosion, etching, or discoloration of the concrete material.

To remove vinegar from concrete, dilute the vinegar with water (1:1 ratio), and then apply it to the concrete. Leave the vinegar on the concrete for 15 minutes, then use a clean rag to wipe the paint off. You shouldn’t use a paint scraper to remove paint from concrete. 

Concrete surfaces are usually uneven and rough so scraping the paint can be tough as you won’t be able to get all the paint out. So it’s always a good idea to let the vinegar sit for long periods on the concrete to make it easy to wipe the paint off.


Vinegar can remove paint from wooden surfaces, but the vinegar concentration must be heavily diluted.

Also, you shouldn’t use vinegar on porous wood like Maple, Buckeye, and Alder for long periods. This is because the vinegar can soak into the porous wood and cause discoloration.

To remove paint from wood using vinegar:

  1. Mix the vinegar with water in a ratio of 1:3 (1 part vinegar 3 parts water).
  2. Dip a rag in the mixture and use the rag to clean the wooden surface.
  3. Leave the mixture on the wooden surface for 10-15 minutes and then use a paint scraper to remove the paint.

You shouldn’t pour vinegar directly into the wood as it can cause the wood to soak up the vinegar.


Vinegar can remove paint from metal, but it’s not the best product to use on metal. Vinegar is an acid and can corrode the metal. 

Vinegar though a mild acid can still cause discoloration, etching, and corrosion of metal surfaces especially if the concentration of vinegar is high. So it’s better not to use vinegar on metal. Instead, you can use alcohol-based solvents or paint strippers designed for use on metal. However, if careful, you can still use it.

To remove paint from metal using vinegar, mix equal parts of vinegar and water (1:1 ratio), pour the mixture into a soft sponge or rag, and start cleaning the metal surface. Leave the mixture on the metal surface for 15 minutes, and use a paint scraper to scrape the paint off. 


You can remove paint from plastic using vinegar. To do so, pour vinegar into a soft sponge and use it to wash the paint off. 

However, vinegar isn’t the safest paint remover to use on plastic, especially soft plastic. This is because vinegar in high concentrations can melt plastic or make the plastic material softer.


Vinegar can remove paint from rubber. To do it, pour some vinegar into a soft sponge or rag and wash the paint off. However, you can remove paint from rubber using warm water too. 


Does Vinegar Remove Emulsion Paint?

Yes, vinegar removes emulsion paint. It takes vinegar less than 10 minutes to remove emulsion paint. Emulsion paint is a water-based paint, and as such, removing it is easier. 

Does Vinegar Remove Enamel Paint?

Vinegar can remove enamel paint, but it takes longer to do it. It takes vinegar up to 15 minutes to remove enamel paint because enamel paint is an oil-based paint. 

Can You Degloss Paint With Vinegar?

You can use vinegar to degloss paint, but it’s not the best choice. You have to clean the surface with TSP before you use vinegar as a deglosser. 

Does Vinegar Remove Wood Stain?

Vinegar can remove both water-based and oil-based stains from wood, plaster, or concrete. The chemical makeup of vinegar makes it able to soften and remove stains easily. 

However, you shouldn’t use vinegar to remove stains from porous materials or materials that can suck the vinegar. This is because vinegar can damage these materials causing discoloration and etching. So it’s a good idea to dilute the vinegar before using it to remove the stain.

Final Words

Overall, vinegar can remove paint from different surfaces. But, it’s always a good idea to dilute the vinegar before using it. Also, don’t let the vinegar sit on the surface for too long as corrosion can be caused by this.

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