How To Remove Paint From Plastic Without Damaging It!

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The trend of using paints on plastic for arts and crafts, home decor, and a number of other tasks has seen a surge in popularity over the last few years and it shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. We have noticed a number of people reaching out to ask questions relating to using various types of paint on plastic with one of the most commonly asked questions being based around how to remove paint from plastic.

Due to seeing so many people specifically asking for tips and tricks to remove paint from plastic as well as it usually being a generally easy process that many people make mistakes in, we have decided to publish this article. Now, there are actually seven different types of plastic so what works for one type of plastic to remove one type of paint may not work for a different type of plastic and another type of paint.

This is why we have broken our article down into sections to offer our readers the best possible advice and recommendations possible. You are able to quickly and easily navigate to each of the sections using the table of contents below allowing you to get specific methods for removing specific types of paint from your plastic. Using the recommended methods for the specific type of paint not only increases the chance that your paint will come off the plastic but also that the plastic will be unharmed in the process too.

How To Remove Paint From Plastic!

The majority of paints can be removed from most types of plastic using either paint remover, isopropyl alcohol, or acetone with ease. The issue is that some paints responds better to some products and some plastics may have reactions to others. Unfortunately, there is no one size fits all approach when it comes to removing paint from plastic due to there being so many types of paint and plastic.

Although there are natural, solvent free methods that can work sometimes, they heavily depend on the type of paint that you need to remove from your plastic. They tend to only really work with entry level, water based paints before their efficiency starts to drop off drastically. With oil based paints or intermediate or professional grade water based paints, these solvent free methods usually do little to nothing.

This is why we usually recommend paint remover, isopropyl alcohol, and acetone for the majority of our readers. Although they are chemical based, they can often remove the paint from your plastic surfaces with ease and without you having to put much time and effort in at all.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Plastic!

Paint remover tends to be the best option to remove both water based spray paint and oil based spray paint from plastic. It should easily be able to remove the spray paint from the plastic quickly although some types of plastic will require you to scrub the area with the paint thoroughly prior to it actually being lifted off the surface.

The majority of high quality paint remover products can work on the more popular types of plastic used for arts and crafts. When it comes to the more robust plastics used for fixtures and fittings in a home as part of a home decor project, they can then become more hit and miss though and often may not have much effect at all, especially on oil based spray paints.

One of the best options to remove spray paint from house hold plastics is normal mustard but it can sometimes have a side effect on some types of plastic. Simply apply a thin layer of the mustard to the area of the plastic that has the paint that needs removing and leave it overnight. Sometimes the paint will then wipe right off the next day but others the bonds of the paint will be weak enough for you to use a paint remover on the paint to lift it off much quicker than out your have been able to otherwise.

How To Remove Enamel Paint From Plastic!

The best options for removing enamel paint from plastic is to dab a cotton bud in some acetone and then gently dab the area to remove the paint. Another method to remove enamel paint from plastic is to use some glycerine on a cotton but and dab the area but this does tend to be less effective than using acetone.

Thankfully, high quality acetone products are cheap and easy to source allowing you to quickly and easily remove enamel paint from plastic surfaces. The problem is that you may end up running into problems of the strength of the acetone potentially damaging the plastic while removing the paint from it.

This is why some people prefer to use the slow and steady approach of using NOW Solutions, Vegetable Glycerin, 100% Pure, Versatile Skin Care, Softening and Moisturizing, 16-Ounce on a cotton bud rather than acetone. Although the glycerin is not as effective at actually removing the enamel paint from the plastic surface, it does tend to offer you a much safer route as it usually has no side effects with the plastic surface during the paint removal process.

How To Remove Latex Paint From Plastic!

Although a normal paint remover is able to remove latex paint from plastic, the process can be problematic and take a long time. A specialist latex paint remover ends up being much quicker at removing latex paint from any surface while also offering much better end results too.

There are a number of excellent latex paint remover products on the market that all offer solid performance in most situations when looking to remove latex paint. Although they work with most surfaces, they tend to specialise in removing latex paint from plastic surfaces and can quickly and easily remove the latex paint from plastic.

We have seen a number of home remedy options for removing latex paint from plastic but the only one that really offers any benefit is the citrus juice based methods. Even then though, a normal paint remover will usually offer better performance of removing latex paint from plastic with an actual latex paint remover being the best option by far. Due to this, we usually recommend that our readers avoid using the various home remedies that people recommend online with latex paint as they tend to just be a waste of time with some potentially making the situations worse.

How To Remove Paint Marker From Plastic!

Most types of paint market use a water based acrylic paint meaning that warm water with a little dish soap in it may be able to remove paint from a paint marker from plastic with ease. Some of the higher quality paint markers on the market may need you to remove a paint remover though due to having a higher quality paint formula that may not be removed from plastic easily with warm water and dish soap.

Many people tend to just instantly use a paint remover to remove the paint marker from plastic surfaces though. It tends to be quicker and easier due to not having to test dish soap and warm water then realising that its not working and having to go back and switch to a paint remover product.

If you have children who are using paint markers that have been specifically designed for use by children, it is highly likely that warm water and dish soap will be able to break down the paint from the markers though. The paint markers on the market right now that have been designed for use by children usually have a very weak paint formula to make sure it is easy to remove when needed with as little effort as possible.

How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Plastic!

Acrylic paint is one of the easiest types of paint to remove from plastic and you will often be able to use some warm water with dish soap to fully remove the paint. If you are using intermediate or artist grade acrylic paint a paint remover may be required, especially if the acrylic paint has been left to dry into the plastic surface.

Simply using a paint remover right away can save time as well as reduce the time and effort required to actually remove the acrylic paint from the plastic too. In addition to this, some people add a little paint remover into some warm water if they are trying to remove acrylic paint from delicate plastic to reduce the chances of the paint remover causing problems with the plastic during the removal process too.

If the acrylic paints that you have to remove from plastic have been designed for use by children or are from an entry level acrylic paint set then warm water with a little soap in it will often be able to get the on done though. Simply add a little warm water and soap to a cloth or a cotton bud and scrub the plastic surface that you need to remove the paint from to get the job done quickly.

How To Remove Oil Based Paint From Plastic!

Oil based paints usually need some form of isopropyl alcohol to be removed from plastic with ease once they have been left to dry. Depending on the plastic that you are needing to remove your oil paint from, a 70% strength isopropyl alcohol may be the better option in many cases as it drastically reduces the chance of damage to the plastic when compared to a >90% isopropyl alcohol.

This is why we recommend that our readers try to use a 70% isopropyl alcohol to remove their oil paints from plastic if possible. They are much more forgiving on the actual plastic surface but do take a little more scrubbing to actually remove the oil paint from the plastic. Simply adding a small amount of the 70% isopropyl alcohol to a cloth or cotton but should be enough to get the job done most of the time.

There are some situations where you will have to use a 90% isopropyl alcohol though due to the pigment used in some oil based paints being considerably stronger than others. This tends to be the reds and browns and although a 70% isopropyl alcohol is able to get the job done, it really does take a ton of time and effort where a 90% solution would get the job done in minutes. If you do use a 90% isopropyl alcohol to remove oil paint from plastic try to remember to wash the plastic down with water afterwards to prevent the alcohol from potentially damaging it over time.

How To Remove Paint From Plastic Models!

Due to the delicate nature of some plastic models, we usually recommend that you use a slow and steady approach for removing the paint on them. Specialist solutions designed specifically for removing paint from plastic models are usually the best option but you are also able to use acetone or 70% strength isopropyl alcohol too with minimal issues.

Different plastic models are often made using different plastics so we always recommend that you do a little research for the specific type of plastic model that you are working with and get the official solution for that particular model. This will not only improve your ability to quickly and easily remove the paint from your plastic models but it also drastically reduces the chance of having any side effects too.

You can often get away with using a 70% isopropyl alcohol or acetone on some card or a cotton bud though. In some cases, we would actually recommend that you try to water down the isopropyl or acetone prior to using it though. This will make the paint removal process slower but reduce the chances of damaging your plastic models.

How To Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts!

Removing paint from plastic car parts tends to be surprisingly easy if you use specifically designed solutions available at your local auto stores. If you are not able to find a specialist cleaner for plastic car parts but still need to remove paint then a 70% isopropyl alcohol can work well in some cases.

The idea behind the 70% isopropyl alcohol solution on a cloth or cotton bud is that you are usually able to dab it onto most plastic car parts to remove paint without risking it doing any accidental damage to the plastic car part. This method does take time but it does tend to be much safer than using a 90% isopropyl alcohol or using a different solution.

There are an absolute ton of different solutions available at auto parts stores that each have their own advantages and disadvantages. Seeking the advice of the sales assistants at your local auto parts store will probably be the best option for getting the best possible product to remove paint from plastic car parts.


That brings our article going over how to remove paint from plastic to an end. We have covered a number of different methods that you are able to use to quickly and easily remove paint from plastic without damaging the plastic. The trick is to workout the specific type of paint that you have on your plastic that needs to be removed and then work on removing it correctly. This not only helps to remove the paint from the plastic quicker but it can also reduce the chances of you accidentally damaging your plastic surface with the cleaning chemicals too.