How to Remove Spray Paint From Plastic? (Dried & Wet)

Plastic is a non-porous material that doesn’t accept (absorb) paint. However, spray paint is applied at increased pressure (and speed), and multiple fast-drying coats are sprayed in minutes.

This allows the spray paint to stick well to plastic and is hard to remove after.  So, how to remove it?

To remove spray paint from plastic, use a solvent-based product, such as acetone, to dissolve the paint particles. Once the paint particles are dissolved, the coating will liquefy and you can wipe it off. 

Avoid Scratching

To avoid scratching a plastic surface while removing paint, don’t use methods that involve scrapping and sanding. Paint scrapers are sharp, and plastic is a light material prone to scratches.

Sanding can also scratch a surface, especially if you use coarse-grit sandpaper. Coarse-grit sandpaper is strong enough to remove existing dried paint, so it can also scratch a surface. 

To avoid scratches, use solvent-based products to dissolve and liquefy the spray paint and then wipe it off. This way, the plastic won’t get damaged, and the paint gets removed.

How To Remove Wet Spray Paint from Plastic?

The easiest way to remove spray paint is while the coating is still wet. That’s because the paint particles haven’t hardened yet, and the coating hasn’t bonded to the surface properly.

1. Use Dish Soap

Use Dish Soap To Remove The Wet Spray Paint

Wet spray paint is water-soluble, so you can dissolve and wash it off using a soap mixture. You can create a soap mixture by mixing soap (or detergent) with warm water. Avoid using bleach as a detergent, as it can etch or discolor the plastic.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Dish soap or detergent
  • A bucket of warm water
  • Rags
  • A sponge
  • Baking soda

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Sprinkle baking soda powder over the wet paint to absorb it. 
  2. Mix detergent (or soap) with a bucket of warm water.
  3. Apply the soap mixture over the affected spot.
  4. Use a sponge or soft brush to scrub the paint off. 
  5. Rinse the plastic surface with warm water to remove the soap residue.
  6. Allow the surface to dry. 

2. Use Vinegar

Use Vinegar

Mix vinegar powder with warm water and use the mixture to wash the plastic. Don’t use more than a teaspoon of vinegar in the mixture, as it can damage the surface.

Here are the tools you need:

  • Powder vinegar
  • A bowl of warm water
  • A soft scrubbing brush
  • Rags

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Use a rag to wipe off as much wet paint as possible. 
  2. Mix vinegar powder with warm water (half a teaspoon of vinegar in a gallon of water).
  3. Apply the mixture over the affected spots.
  4. Use a scrubbing brush to scrub the surface and paint.
  5. Wipe the surface with clean water.
  6. Allow the surface to dry.

3. Use WD-40

Use WD-40

WD-40 is a solvent-based cleaner and lubricant that can remove wet spray paint. To do so, spray and apply the WD-40 over the affected spot, wait a few minutes, and use a microfiber cloth to scrub the area. 

Removing Dried Spray Paint

Dried spray paint is harder to remove because the paint particles have hardened and compacted, and the solvent has evaporated. So, the coating is hard and rigid. When the paint particles are compact, they repel (or prevent) water from penetrating its coating. So, it becomes harder for solvents (or cleaning products) to dissolve the coating.

To do this, you need a solvent-based product strong enough to penetrate and dissolve the coating.

1. Use Acetone

Use Acetone To Dissolve The Spray Paint

Acetone is an alcohol-based solvent that can penetrate and remove dried spray paint. 

For this method, you’ll need these tools and supplies:

  • A bottle of acetone
  • Rags
  • A soft sponge
  • A bowl of water

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Wipe the surface to remove dust or dirt.
  2. Pour acetone into a clean container.
  3. Soak a rag into acetone for a few minutes.
  4. Use the dampened rag to wipe the affected spots.
  5. Wait 30 minutes. 
  6. Use a soft sponge to scrub the surface lightly.
  7. Remove acetone residue using soapy water, as it can discolor the material.
  8. Rinse the plastic and leave it to dry.

2. Use Denatured Alcohol

Use Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is an alcohol-based solvent that can dissolve the bonding between paint particles. Alcohol is a natural paint-remover and won’t damage a plastic surface. However, this method works best for small stains or splatters, don’t use it to remove multiple paint coatings.

Here are the tools you need:

  • A bottle of denatured alcohol
  • Rags
  • Warm water
  • A plastic putty knife
  • A toothbrush

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Pour denatured alcohol directly into the affected spots.
  2. Wait 30 minutes for the solvent to dissolve the particles. 
  3. Use a plastic putty knife the scrape the loose spray paint.
  4. Use a toothbrush to remove the leftover spray paint. 
  5. Rinse the surface with warm soapy water.
  6. Allow it to dry. 

3. Use a Paint Stripper

Use Paint Stripper

Paint strippers are solvent or chemical-based removers that dissolve and remove multiple coats of wet or dried spray paint. This product costs more than other products but is the most effective. However, only use water-based stripping compounds as they are lighter and won’t damage a plastic surface.

Here are the tools you need: 

  • A paint stripper
  • A plastic putty knife
  • A paintbrush
  • A pair of gloves
  • Mineral spirits

Here is a guide for this method:

  1. Wipe the surface to remove dust. Dust can prevent the stripping compound from working properly.
  2. Apply a thick coat of stripping compound over the affected spot using a paint scraper. 
  3. Wait 15 minutes. 
  4. When the stripping compound is dry, scrape it with a plastic scraper. The spray paint will come off too.
  5. Wipe the plastic surface with mineral spirits or natural oil. 
  6. Clean the surface with soapy water. 
  7. Leave it to dry. 

Final Words

In summary, removing spray paint from plastic is easy if you have the right tools. For wet spray paints, use soapy water, vinegar, or WD-40. For dried spray paint, use a strong solvent such as acetone or a stripping compound.

Tony Adams
Tony Adams

Tony is a professional painter and an author of DIY Geeks. Tony has completed over 1,000 painting projects for his clients. It's safe to say he knows what he Is talking about,

Leave a Comment