We all love redecorating and renewing our houses – painting a wall in a different color or even refreshing old and deteriorated paint can bring new life to any room.
In order to do this, though, we must first get rid of the previous coat. Or perhaps there’s a small mistake we need to fix, like staining tools, floors, and clothes.
Whatever the case, we need to use a good paint remover to get the job done.
Though there are many commercial brands, some of them are unnecessarily expensive, and others even are comprised of dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to our health.
There is an alternative to such store-bought options: Homemade or DIY paint removers.
DIY stands for do-it-yourself and can be just as effective and far less harmful than those alternatives you can purchase. It’ll also end up saving you lots of money, and you’ll know exactly what ingredients you are using.
In this article, I’ll discuss the seven best recipes for homemade paint removers and, for the less intrepid, what kinds you can actually buy instead without utilizing harmful chemicals.
So without any delay, let’s get in…
7 Best Homemade Paint Removers
Homemade Paint Removers (for latex paint, enamel, or any other oil-based paint) are usually considered by most homeowners due to the obvious safety concerns.
The good thing is you can use them for a variety of different applications, like removing the paint from a brick wall, wood, metal, carpet, plastic, concrete, or even car parts like alloy wheels.
Some of the best ways by which you can make these natural homemade paint removers include…
Though vinegar is usually used in the kitchen, this is not always the case.
There are plenty of other uses for it, like window cleaning, weed remover, and unclogging showerheads.
Another great use is removing paint that might have been left behind on windows and mirrors after you are done renovating a room.
It’s also incredibly easy to prepare. It’s a one-ingredient recipe!
- Put about half a cup of vinegar in a container and microwave it until it’s hot but doesn’t boil.
- Once it’s heated up, use a sponge or rag, moisten it up, and rub the dirty surface.
- It’s important to let it sit for a while, as the vinegar will end up weakening the paint stuck on the window or another surface.
The old paint should easily be scraped off afterward. If it doesn’t work, just repeat the process two or three more times. It should work like a charm.
2- Hydrogen Peroxide
This is the absolute best way of removing stains from carpets and fabric. It’s similar to bleach but far less toxic and risky to use.
- First, moisten the area with warm water: On and around the stain.
- Then apply peroxide with a spoon and mix it over the paint you want to remove. Let it sit for an hour or two before cleaning it off.
- With a wet toothbrush or damp towel, rub off the stain pressing down hard.
If this hasn’t removed all the stains, apply another coat of hydrogen peroxide paint remover and repeat the process all over again.
3- Sodium Hydroxide
Sodium hydroxide, also known as lye, has been used as a kind of paint remover for a long time. In fact, it might be one of the oldest alternatives utilized for stubborn paint stains and even glue.
It’s fundamental to be incredibly careful while using lye since it can cause severe skin burns. Because of this, it’s important to use gloves while handling them and avoid working with them indoors.
- Pour about two gallons of cold water into a container, adding two cups: One of sodium hydroxide and one of corn starch.
- Make sure you mix it well, preferably with a long wooden spoon or stick.
- Next, use it straight away on any surface you want and let it rest for about five to ten minutes.
- Scrape the paint off with a metal scraper or knife, and then clean it up with some water or a mix of water and vinegar.
4- Sodium Bicarbonate and Water
Sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, is an excellent alternative to expensive paint removers. You can also use baking powder, though it has a few extra ingredients, such as cream of tartar.
This method works especially well on metal tools, and it’s incredibly easy to make.
- You simply need to boil water in a large pot. It’s important this is not the same pot you utilize to cook, or at least that you clean it up correctly afterward.
- Add about a quarter of a cup worth of baking soda and then introduce the tools into the water.
- Let it boil for at least 15 more minutes, and don’t stir it.
If, after removing the tools, there is still some paint left on them, you can rinse it off with a simple toothbrush. It’ll come out effortlessly.
5- Flour, Water, And Washing Soda
This is a great method to clean off the paint on large surfaces, like walls and floors. It’s natural, easy to use, and can be combined with vinegar for the best possible effect.
- Just mix water with washing soda in a clean container. How much you use of one, use the same of the other.
- Then fill two-thirds of a cup with flowers and complete the rest f the cup with hot water, stirring until it creates a soft gel.
- Mix both compounds together and use the resulting product to rub the area you want to clean off any paint.
It’s important you leave it on for around an hour and spray it with cold water from time to time. You can use a normal sprayer to achieve this.
Finally, clean up the area with water, but if you add vinegar to it (about half and a half), it will improve the end result.
6- Washing Soda, Sodium Borate, And Ammonia
This is yet another perfect solution to scrape paint off larger areas, such as floors and walls.
These chemicals can be dangerous when mixed together, so it’s important to prepare them outdoors and with proper protective gear.
Sodium borate is also referred to as borax, its most common name, and is usually utilized to clean different appliances around the house.
- To achieve this preparation, you first mix equal parts of these three ingredients and then add about eight cups of cold water, mixing it up well until it’s all dissolved.
- With a paintbrush, apply a coat to the brick wall or any other surface you need to remove the paint as if you were applying color.
- Let it rest for at least thirty minutes or up to an hour.
- To finish stripping the paint, utilize a ball of steel wool and rub it against the area, washing it off with hot water.
7- Laundry Detergent, Preferably Liquid
Liquid laundry detergent is pet-friendly and can be used individually or as one of the ingredients for the mixture in paint removers.
Though it’s not the ideal solution to remove paint from a wall or floor, it works great when you need to scrape it off metal tools or doorknobs.
- In order to clean the accidental spills of paint on your doorknobs, you’ll have to remove the knob momentarily.
- Fill a container with cold water and add less than a quarter of a cup worth of liquid detergent.
- Place all your metal objects inside the pot and let it sit for a while.
- After allowing it to rest in the mix, use a toothbrush to clean off the paint that remained behind.
Types of Readymade Paint Strippers You Can Buy
Although homemade paint strippers are great money-savers and cost-effective, there are also many available on the market at a very low cost.
If you do not want to indulge yourself in any kind of hassle preparing one, you can purchase them online or from your hardware and home improvement stores.
Make sure that these do not contain any kind of harmful ingredients to hurt you and your family.
Using a paint scraper tool is one of the hardest and most time-consuming alternatives, but it’s also one of the cheapest and uses absolutely no chemicals.
This option is often used when the paint is in poor shape and can’t be salvaged. Usually, you’ll have to repeat the process several times in order to finish the job completely.
2- Stripping Pads
The stripping pads can easily remove paint and wallpaper from any wall without leaving behind any scratches or unpleasant marks.
There are several brands to choose from, some more inexpensive than others. Most of them are crafted from abrasive fibers and will help avoid using harmful chemicals inside your home.
3- Abrasive Blasting
Better known as sandblasting, it’s an incredibly eco-friendly alternative for big areas or cars. If you already have or can rent the proper machinery to use this technique, it can help you get rid of unwanted paint in no time.
You just need to simply blast the sand (or other media) at the area where you need to remove the paint. And the sand automatically flakes it off.
4- Heat Gun
If you don’t want to use chemicals or create your own paint removers, this is a great alternative.
The heat gun must be applied to the area you want to clean the paint off until it creates small bubbles. Then, use a scraper to get the paint completely off the surface. It can be a slow process, so patience is a must.
Similar to heat guns, infrared paint remover is also a revolutionary way to strip the paint and varnishes from wood. The process uses gentle infrared heat in the form of rays to remove the paint, particularly in industries and manufacturing units.
5- Chemical Based Paint Removers
Chemicals to remove tougher paint are best used indoors as well as outdoors.
Advanced paint remover chemicals can be applied for as long as a full day to make sure all the paint is effectively gone. Some of these are:
It’s easy to use as well as completely non-toxic; all you have to do is apply it to the paint you want to remove and let it sit for a few hours. It can be used in all kinds of furniture and friezes.
These are incredibly effective and strong, have no harmful chemicals in their compound, and are usually great for working on big surfaces like walls.
Whichever chemical paint remover product you use, care that it’s Methylene Chloride-free. It’s also good to avoid paint strippers that contain carbonic acid, toluene, formic acid, and Xylene.
Methylene is a highly toxic chemical, bad enough to potentially cause cancer or give those who use it a chemical burn. Many of these chemical-based paint strippers, due to their hazardous nature, have also been banned from online stores such as Amazon, eBay, and others in the US.
So, if you are buying a commercial product, buy the one without these ingredients in its composition.
As a good alternative, you can consider using a sander for stripping away the paint safely from metal, walls, or furniture items at your place. They are considered safe for all, even for a pregnant woman who wants to accomplish a DIY task at home.
Liquid vs. Paste Paint Stripper – What’s Better to Use?
You can find two basic types of paint strippers, liquid and semi-paste.
Both types are effective in removing paint, although they work in slightly different ways.
A liquid paint stripper gets results faster compared to semi-paste, but it does tend to run when applied to a vertical surface such as a wall.
Semi-paste is not as fast but is a better all-around application, especially for walls and other vertical or steep surfaces.
Whichever form you choose, it pays to know how to use them properly before you get started…
1- Prepare the Work Area
Stripping paint is a messy job, so you need to protect yourself and the area around you.
Start by putting down some plastic on the floor and cover that with some kraft or rosin paper to catch the paint and paint stripper as it runs off the area.
The paper covering is important because some paint strippers will actually eat through plastics. By hitting the paper first, it helps to keep the plastic covering in shape.
If you are working inside, open up the windows and add a fan to circulate the air. This will prevent a concentration of vapor from the paint stripper from building up in the room.
Next, grab a pair of gloves that are resistant to paint stripper materials.
2- Clean the Surface and Apply Paint Stripper
Once you are ready, clean the surface area that will be stripped of paint so that it is free of dirt and debris. A good wipe-down will ensure that the area is ready for work.
Shake the paint stripper in the can or container, then pour a little into a pot or other shallow container.
Using a disposable brush, apply a small amount to a small portion of the area you want to be covered.
By starting small, you can gauge how effective the paint stripper is in removing unwanted paint. Plus, it’s easier to work with smaller areas, at least at first.
Thick applications of the paint stripper formula are recommended, so be sure to cover the entire area with the proper amount after testing the product on a small area.
Once covered, let the area dry for about a half-hour or until you see the paint begin to bubble on the surface.
3- Remove the Paint, Clean & Dry
Now you are ready to remove the old paint. Keep your gloves on and use a putty knife or plastic scraper to do the job. You do not want the scraper to be sharp, as that might damage the surface.
In addition to the scraper, have a few toothpicks or small, disposable brushes handy to get rid of paint that is stuck in tight places.
If the paint is still difficult to get off, stop and re-apply the paint stripper with thick coats. Let it dry for up to 20 minutes, and then try again.
You may have to use steel wool that has been dipped in mineral spirits to remove the paint or use lacquer thinner with a rag to get rid of the remaining paint that is proving to be difficult to remove.
Once you have removed all the unwanted paint, clean the area to get rid of the paint stripper completely.
And let the area dry for a couple of days to ensure no paint stripper or fumes are left. Inspect the surface for any remaining paint, and ensure all the old paint stripper has been neutralized.
Safety Tips and Precautions for Using a DIY Paint Stripper
By following the instructions and taking basic safety precautions, you can remove the paint from surfaces quickly and with the utmost safety.
Here are a few more tips to ensure that everything is kept safe when you use a paint stripper.
- Lead Paint: If the paint is more than 40 years old, it may be lead paint. Check to be sure and act carefully.
- Bushes & Shrubs: Paint strippers can kill shrubs, bushes, and flowers, so be careful when using them near your garden.
- Read the Label: Not all paint strippers are alike, so read carefully about the ingredients they contain before purchasing.
- Keep Pets Safe: Natural pet-friendly paint removers are best to choose from if you have pets at home. Consider preparing them on your own by following the recipes above.
In the city area, personal property, signboards, playgrounds, public toilets, school or college bathrooms, etc., are all prone to getting graffiti.
If the graffiti is small and isolated, you may be able to remove it with a high-pressure washer. However, if it’s more extensive or widespread on your concrete surfaces, you will likely need to use a chemical-based graffiti stripper and/or TSP for cleaning.
Once you have cleaned it, you can protect your concrete wall or other surfaces by sealing them with a clear anti-graffiti sealer, making it more difficult for future graffiti to adhere to the surface.
In the end, whichever paint remover formula you prefer (homemade or a bought one), make sure that you use them carefully.
Do not forget to dispose of the chemicals or left-out paint flakes or residues. Disposing of them will prevent any possible accident, especially if you have kids and pets at home.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.