How to Remove Spray Paint from Metal? 6 Easy Ways

How to remove spray paint from metal? It isn’t too difficult to remove spray paint from metal, as long as you use the right tools. In this article, I’ll describe how to clean it off without damaging the metal.

How do you remove spray paint from metal? 6 of the best ways to remove spray paint from metal are as follows:

  1. Chemical Paint Removers
  2. Stripping Gel
  3. Dish Soap and/or Clay Cleansing Bar
  4. Alcohol
  5. Acetone
  6. Sandpaper or Steel Wool
  7. Baking Soda
  8. Carnauba Wax

Read on to learn more about how to remove spray paint from metal with ease, using each of these different methods.

How to Remove Spray Paint from Metal

Since it is non-porous, removing spray paint from a metal surface is easier than removing it from a concrete or wood surface.

Always remember to wear protective gear before using paint-removing agents. This includes a pair of gloves, a mask, and a pair of goggles. This way, you have a layer of protection from any harmful damage.

Let’s discuss the 6 various methods and cleaning agents that you can use to get the job done efficiently.

1. Chemical Paint Removers

Chemical paint removers are considered one of the most effective types of cleaning agents. If you wish to remove unwanted spray paint on small objects, soak them in a basin filled with liquid paint remover or paint thinner. Once the paint softens, remove the object from the basin. Then, gently remove the paint using a brush with soft bristles.

Sometimes, we find unwanted paints on objects with hard-to-reach areas. In which case, use a spray-on paint remover. Hardware stores offer products with stronger formulation, allowing the paint to peel off easily without damaging the object.

how exactly do you remove spray paint from metal

2. Stripping Gel

Hardware stores also offer stripping gel, which is another type of paint remover. In case you choose this type of product, make sure to wear gloves, a face mask, and an eye protector to prevent any chemical from penetrating your skin and eyes.

Using a clean paintbrush, apply a thick coat of the stripping gel over the unwanted paint. Leave it for approximately 30 minutes. For the exact duration, check the instructions indicated on the stripping gel’s packaging.

Once the paint starts to bubble or loosen, it means it is ready to be removed. You may gently remove it by peeling it off or by rubbing a piece of cloth. For hard-to-reach areas, you may gently scrub it with an old toothbrush. Continue peeling, rubbing, or scrubbing until all unwanted spray paint is removed.

In case of trace residue caused by the gel or the unwanted paint, rub a cloth with acetone onto the affected area to wipe it off.

3. Dish Soap and/or a Clay Cleansing Bar

A liquid dish soap, as we all know, is a natural grease remover too. Hence, it is also an effective paint remover — but only if the paint formulation is mild, like that of nail polish or something a little stronger than that.

To apply, pour 2 to 3 drops of liquid soap on the affected area. Then, rub it gently using a microfiber cloth with warm water.

If you don’t find the liquid dish soap effective, you may try the clay cleansing bar. But before you use it, apply a clay bar lubricant on the affected area. This lubricant is available at home improvement stores. But in case you can’t find one, you can always make your own version. All you have to do is mix three drops of liquid dish soap with a pint of warm water.

Once the lubricant is applied, gently rub the clay cleansing bar on the unwanted spray paint. You may continue spraying the lubricant as you rub the clay bar on the affected area. Then, wipe off the paint as well as other trace residue using a damp cloth.

4. Alcohol

You may also try removing unwanted spray paint by rubbing alcohol on the affected area. Simply soak a lint-free cloth in alcohol to get the job done. Continue rubbing until you remove the paint successfully. Rubbing alcohol is most effective for removing water-based paint. Always remember to wear gloves before you start the process.

Continue reading to know other methods on how to remove spray paint from metal.

5. Acetone

Acetone works best on oil-based paints. The process is similar when you use rubbing alcohol, but this time, you will apply acetone instead. And similarly, make sure you are wearing gloves before you start the process to protect your hands.

how do you get rid of spray paint from metal

6. Sandpaper or Steel Wool

Gently removing unwanted paint from metal using fine-grit sandpaper or steel wool is also effective. However, you have to be mindful and careful in doing so lest you damage the object. The last thing that you want to happen is to scratch the metal and ruin it permanently.

In cases where minor scratches could not be avoided, there are metal polish products available at hardware stores. You can use them to make the metal smooth once again.

7. Baking Soda

Small Metal Objects

If you are removing paint from small metal objects, baking soda might do the trick.

Place a thin layer of baking soda in a cooking pot. You may use an old pot and make sure that you won’t use it anymore to cook food. Fill the pot with water, making it half full. Then, place the small metal object inside it.

Heat the pot at a low temperature and let it simmer for approximately 30 minutes. Baking soda is known as an abrasive cleaner. It helps loosen paint from a metal surface.

After 30 minutes, remove the object from the pot. Ensure that you use a pair of tongs and that you are wearing gloves. Place the object on a clean cloth and let it cool slightly. Using a paint scraper, peel off the loosened paint in a gentle manner.

Large Metal Objects

Since large objects will not fit in a cooking pot, you may try pouring hot water with baking soda onto the affected area. If you have a spray container that can handle hot water, you may pour the mixture inside for easier application. Continue spraying the mixture on the affected area until you notice the unwanted paint loosening up. Rub the area using a piece of cloth damped with the warm mixture.

In the event that the object has hard-to-reach areas, spray the hot mixture directly on the unwanted spray paint. Once you notice it loosening up, gently scrub the area using a tiny stiff-bristled brush.

8. Carnauba Wax

If the metal we’re talking about is an automobile, the best spray paint remover to apply is the carnauba wax, either in the form of liquid or aerosol. The carnauba wax dissolves the unwanted paint without leaving any damage to the vehicle’s clear coat. Carnauba wax is available in automotive shops and hardware stores.

For larger vehicles such as tractors or dump trucks, use a blasting rig to apply carnauba wax efficiently. In addition to that, it is highly recommended that you apply soda blasters on the affected area to avoid scratching the metal. Blasting soda is a stronger mixture containing baking soda. You may also use any other finely ground media made out of walnut shells.

How Long Does It Take for Spray Paint to Dry?

If you used spray paint to paint an object, a wall, or maybe a piece of art, you would know how it can easily get everywhere. Or maybe you want to remove spray paint that was sprayed as graffiti on a metal wall or door.

Whatever the case, you need to use the right paint remover to get that spray paint off the metal. We looked at how to remove spray paint from metal; now, let’s look at how long it takes spray paint to dry so that you know how soon to get it cleaned up. If you are able to clean it before it fully dries, it is much easier to remove it from the metal.

The drying process for spray paint varies, depending on its content or ingredients. Some paints dry as fast as five minutes, and there are those that dry longer by 10 minutes. It means that if you don’t want unwanted streaks to occur, you have to be on the lookout all the time. But this might not be feasible all the time.

There are spray paints that dry in 24 hours. In fact, there are those that completely dry in 36 to 48 hours. In which case, you may have ample time to check and wipe off unwanted streaks. While this may be feasible, it interrupts your painting time. The last thing you want to happen is to lose your concentration in the middle of your project. You wouldn’t want to lose your momentum and come up with a failed project, would you?

Besides, even if you try to wipe off every unwanted streak of paint that you see, there’s a huge chance that you will overlook some of it. What if you only notice unwanted paint after a few months or even a year? For sure, the unwanted paint had completely dried, and removing it is not that easy anymore.

So in every painting project, you have to anticipate that removing unwanted paint forms part and parcel of the entire activity. In addition to that, the budget you have for your painting project must include an allocation for paint-removing agents.

Conclusion – How to Remove Spray Paint from Metal

So, how exactly do you remove spray paint from metal? Here are 6 recommended paint-removing agents that are available in many hardware and home improvement stores:

  1. Chemical paint removers
  2. Stripping gel
  3. Dish soap and/or clay cleansing bar
  4. Alcohol
  5. Acetone
  6. Sandpaper or steel wool
  7. Baking soda
  8. Carnauba wax

So, now, you are aware of how to remove spray paint from metal. And by now, you also know that water will never be enough to remove unwanted streaks of paint. Anyway, it’s not difficult to find paint-removing agents. In fact, the items you need might already be right there inside your home.

For sure, you have dish soap on your kitchen sink. You probably have a baking soda pack in your kitchen cabinet and a bottle of alcohol in your medicine cabinet. You may also have steel wool and sandpaper lying somewhere in one of your storage closets, for all you know.

Other paint-removing agents are available in hardware stores. Without a doubt, you can find them in automotive shops too. In fact, car care shops that do paint jobs are the ideal places to look for the product you need.

And as a gentle reminder, paint-removing agents are not the only items you need to get hold of. Your protective gear is highly important too. Make sure that you also have a face mask, a pair of gloves, and a pair of goggles. You must wear them properly, especially if you will use strong chemicals.