Best Way To Remove Spray Paint | 5 Different Methods

Remove Spray Paint

Spray painting is typically used for graffiti but can also be used in crafts or art projects.

While it’s challenging to get off some surfaces, various methods can work according to what type of surface you’re working on. Different chemicals and other techniques should help remove the spray paint stain without damaging your surface even more than it already was!

You’ll find out how to use different products and chemicals as well as what type of surface you’re working with. This will make removing the paint much more accessible than if you were trying on your own or using a random paint remover that’s not meant for the surface.

What is spray paint?

Spray paint is a type of aerosol used for many different purposes, from graffiti to craft projects. It typically comes in a pressurized container, and the paint itself has solvents as its liquid component.

Spray painting is a quick and efficient way to give your project that professional finish without any brushstrokes. Spray paints work particularly well with transparent coats of polyurethane or other finishes because they require thin coverage, allowing better control.

Video: How to Remove Spray Paint from Skin

What Tools Do You Need to Remove Spray Paint?

There are various “solvents” that make up the base of most paint sprays, including acetone, Toluene, and Xylene.

There are many popular brands of spray paint such as Krylon, Rust-oleum, and Plasti-kote, and to remove it from surfaces such as concrete, plastic, cars, glass, metal, wood, and your skin, we recommend having the following to hand:

Essential oils – can strip paint from surfaces and not discolor the underlying substrate.

You can also use nail polish remover (acetone) to remove most aerosol paint, and it is very cheap and easy to obtain.

Paint remover (Toluene) is another solution that you can use to strip paint; however, it leaves a nasty residue on most surfaces which requires sanding or scraping.

Toothbrush: Use an old toothbrush or a special brush designed for removing paint from intricate areas such as car windows to remove paint from tiny grooves or cracks.

Warm water: The heat from warm tap water will soften the solvent allowing it to be easily scraped off.

Liquid dish soap: Dish liquid has a high concentration of surfactants which break down and dissolve most types of oil-based paints and adhesives, making them easier to scrape off (As well as removing excess dust and dirt).

Scraper: If you paint a lot or run out of toothbrushes, investing in a good scraper that will not damage the surface is recommended.

Pressure washer: using a high-powered jet of water will remove the paint quickly and efficiently.

Microfiber cloth: Microfibre cloths are great for removing dried dust particles after using a pressure washer to remove the paint. They are also great at collecting dust or oils from all types of surfaces.

Baking soda: Baking soda is alkaline based so it will neutralize acids in most types of paint.

Vegetable oil: Vegetable oil is excellent for dissolving paints that are water or linseed oil-based; however, it will not remove Enamels.

Sandpaper: Sanding away small amounts of paint can be done quickly with a piece of fine-grit sandpaper.

Rubber gloves: Rubber or vinyl gloves can protect your hands from paint splatters and harsh chemicals such as Xylene that may be used to remove paint.

Paper towels: Paper towels are great for removing dried dust particles and oil after pressure washing, scraping, baking soda paste, etc. They also make an excellent blotting agent that can soak up solvents.

Olive oil: Olive oil is a great way to dissolve linseed oil-based paints as it contains triglycerides similar to the chemical structure of the color.

Paint scraper: For the more stubborn areas that do not respond well to other methods, you can use a paint scraper to remove paint quickly and easily; however, you should only use it on flat surfaces. Be very cautious when using anything that will cut into the surface, damaging the material underneath.

Steel wool: A fine-grade steel wool will remove small amounts of paint from most surfaces. However, if you are removing it from a car, be sure to use an excellent grade as any scratches left behind could rust and become permanent.

Mineral spirits: Mineral spirits (paint thinner) are used to remove most oil-based paints; however, lacquer thinner can be very toxic, so try to use them in a well-ventilated area and avoid skin contact.

How to Remove Spray Paint From Concrete in 3 Steps

Overspray from spray paint can be challenging to remove from concrete because of the higher porosity, so the process is usually slow, especially for oil-based paints. Because concrete is generally found outside, using the pressure washer will be your best option, especially as a graffiti remover. Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) works well for indoor removal but will take longer and is more labor-intensive.

However, in our experience, you can remove spray paint stains from concrete in five steps.

For this, you will need the following items:

Pressure washer (at least 2000 psi)

Spray nozzle

Safety glasses

Rubber gloves

TSP powder

Scrub brush (stiff bristles)



Step 1:

Set up your pressure washer using a 15-degree spray nozzle to remove spray paint stains from concrete outdoors. We have found this is the best angle to remove the paint without damaging the concrete quickly. Too narrow, and the jet spray will be too forceful, too broad, and you’ll be at it all night!

Step 2:

While wearing safety goggles, turn on your pressure washer and quickly spray off the paint. You may see some of it come up immediately, but most of it will take a few minutes to soften enough so that you can wipe or scrub it away. Once all the paint has stopped coming up, switch your nozzle to rinse mode and leave for five minutes to allow any remaining material in the concrete pores to be washed away. If you can see any stains left after rinsing, keep your nozzle at 15 degrees and spray again to remove them.

Step 3:

This next step may not always be necessary for outdoor stains, but it’s the best option for indoor use of stubborn stains. While wearing rubber gloves, mask, and goggles, dilute 5ml of TSP into two gallons of water. A five-gallon works best.

Step 4:

Grab your scrubbing brush soaked in the TSP mixture and scrub at the stain until you are satisfied that all of it has been removed. If it is a stubborn stain, wash it with TSP for 30 minutes and then scrub again.

Step 5:

Once you have finished scrubbing, rinse well with a mop and dry cloth.

How to Remove Spray Paint From Plastic in 4 Steps

Plastic is a more delicate material to work with as it reacts with some chemicals. So to avoid any damage to the original paint and workpiece, you must use a safe stain remover.

You will need:

Nail polish remover

Paint scraper, putty knife, or sharp blade

Denatured alcohol

Liquid soap


Step 1:

Being very careful not to scratch the plastic surface. Use the scraper, knife, or blade to slice off any excess spray paint gently.

Step 2:

Now you have removed the bulk of paint, put some nail polish remover on a dry cloth and wipe over the stain in a circular motion.

Step 3:

Despite trying the first two steps, some stains are stubborn and refuse to budge! In that case, rubbing alcohol over the spot should dissolve it. You must wear some safety gear for this, such as a mask, rubber gloves, and safety goggles. Once it peels, you can either wipe it away or use the razor blade to help it along.

Denatured alcohol is ideal for latex paint and oil-based stains.

Step 4:

Once you are happy, the stain has been removed; clean the plastic with liquid soap and a sponge.

How to Remove Spray Paint From Metal in Six Steps

You will most likely remove spray paint from metal reasonably quickly because it is a less porous surface. However, it’s easy to cause damage to car paint so whilst you want to get rid of unwanted spray paint splatter just be careful you don’t create yourself a bigger problem.

You’ll need:

Baking soda



Paint scraper

Safety goggles, rubber gloves, mask

Hard bristled brush

Clean rag

Step 1:

Pour enough baking soda into a pot so it’s approximately 1/8″ thick, and then fill the pot halfway with cold water.

Step 2:

Using a wet toothbrush, rub it over the stain in a circular motion and rinse with warm water once most of the color has been loosened.

Step 3:

Being very careful not to scratch the metal surface, use a paint scraper to remove the remaining paint.

Step 4:

For large objects, you can use a paint stripper. While wearing a respiratory mask, gloves, and goggles, apply a thin layer over the paint stain with a toothbrush.

Step 5:

Use a stiff bristle brush to remove the paint that should have bubbled up away from the metal surface.

Step 6:

Lastly, use a few mineral spirits in a clean towel to remove any remaining paint and then clean the surface area with a clean, dry cloth.

How to Remove Spray Paint From Your Skin in 3 Steps

No matter what surface you are spray painting, there is always a risk of getting it on your skin, especially your hands. Non-toxic water-based paint is easily removed. However, oil-based paints are a bit more tricky.

You will need:

Washing up liquid (dish soap) or hand soap

Soapy water

Clean cloth

Olive oil

Step 1:

You’ll need to know if it is oil-based paint first, so check the canister. For water-based paint, you can use a few squirts of liquid soap and apply them directly to your skin. Using your fingers, rub the soap in a circular motion, and the paint should wash off.

Step 2:

If some paint remains (sometimes small dry spots will), replace your fingers with a toothbrush. Rinse using warm water.

Step 3:

Olive oil or baby oil is an excellent way of removing oil-based paint from your skin. Place a small amount directly on your skin and massage it using the toothbrush. Rinse away with warm water and a clean cloth.

Just be careful not to get essential oils into your eyes because it can cause minor irritation and discomfort.

How to Remove Spray Paint From Glass without Chemicals in Four Steps

Although it is a glass surface, you should still be very careful not to scratch it during the cleaning process. This method is eco-friendly, but you will need a bit of elbow grease!

You will need:

Measuring cup

White vinegar

Rubber gloves

Liquid dish soap

Window scraper


Step 1:

Place 1 cup of white vinegar into a microwave-safe measuring dish and bring to a boil.

Step 2:

While wearing rubber gloves, place a clean, dry cloth into the white vinegar solution and apply directly onto the glass. By rubbing in rigid circular motions, the paint should come away.

Step 3:

Add some liquid dish soap to the vinegar mixture, and using a microfiber cloth apply it to the glass or mirror. This time, let it soak for approximately 5 minutes.

Step 3:

Using the window scraper push the blade against the paint and lift it. Don’t pull it back with the edge against the glass because you can scratch the surface.

Step 4:

Rinse the glass surface with warm water and use a squeegee to the water for a streak-free finish.


Remove spray paint from metal, glass, and other surfaces with ease by following the above mentioned methods. Be careful around the eyes if you have to remove that kind of paint. Also, be sure to wear a mask, gloves, and goggles while using any chemicals.

The best way to remove spray paint will depend on the surface you are trying to clean. If your goal is to clean metal, it may be easier than getting rid of an oil-based stain on glass or skin because metal has a less porous surface. 

It also helps if you know the type of paint before attempting removal methods for safety reasons, but fortunately, there are several ways to remove all kinds with some elbow grease and patience!

Walter Snyder

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