How to use acetone to remove paint

Even the most careful painter is bound to make a few mistakes. Oil-based paints and enamels can easily be removed with acetone. Acetone can damage plastic, so it is best to use it only on non-porous surfaces such as concrete or metal. Acetone can also be used on vinyl, though it should be used sparingly, as too much will begin to eat into the surface. You can purchase straight acetone from hardware stores or you can use an acetone-based nail polish remover for small spills.

Clean the area the paint is in to remove any dust or grit that may damage the surface when you scrub the paint away. Dip a rag in acetone and scrub the paint spill thoroughly.

Allow the acetone to sit on the paint for 2 to 3 minutes. Use the paint scraper to scrape of the paint from the surface.

Dab the acetone on then gently scrape the area immediately when cleaning vinyl surfaces. Rinse the acetone away with water, then repeat until the paint is gone.

Use the acetone-soaked rag to wipe the area thoroughly once more and remove any leftover paint. Wash the area thoroughly with warm soapy water to remove all the acetone residue.


You can use fine grit sandpaper to remove any enamel paint the acetone fails to remove. Test a hidden area first.


Wear gloves and work in a well-ventilated area when cleaning with acetone.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Plastic paint scraper
  • Water
  • Soap
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About the Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications. Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.