How to Remove Paint From Model Kits

Updated July 20, 2017

Model kits made of plastic, resin or vinyl can last for decades, but the paint may flake away over time. Accumulated dust can give the model a permanently grimy appearance. Sometimes the owner is simply dissatisfied with the paint job and wants to repaint the model. Whatever the reason, it is not difficult to strip the paint off a model. You may need to disassemble the kit to complete the project properly. The job requires a few easily available products and, most importantly, a safety-conscious approach.

Inspect the kit to determine if it needs to be disassembled. Check for loose parts or tight spots that are not easily accessible for scrubbing off the paint. Begin disassembling the model if necessary, starting by working off pieces that are already close to coming off. Use the hobby knife to aid in disassembly, but don’t force the work vigorously or the model may be damaged.

Put on rubber gloves and eye protection. Pour the degreasing fluid into the container. Submerge all parts of the model. Allow them to soak at least an hour.

Put the rubber gloves and eye protection back on. Remove one part of the model from the degreaser. Scrub off the paint with a toothbrush. Use warm water to help remove paint while scrubbing. Continue until the paint is gone or scrubbing produces no further results. Return the scrubbed parts to the degreaser if paint remains.

The degreaser soak will also loosen the model’s joints and allow additional careful disassembly.

Repeat steps 2 and 3 until all possible paint has been removed from the model.

Pick or scrape off paint flecks with the knife.

Wash the model parts with dish soap and warm water. Allow them to dry thoroughly before starting to rebuild or repaint the model.


It may not be possible to remove all of the paint, but the degreaser should remove enough to allow you to paint over what remains. The degreaser usually can be reused to strip the paint off additional models.


Always protect eyes and skin from the degreaser. Do not allow young children to strip the paint off a model. Closely supervise older children. Do not use metal containers to strip paint. Degreasers can eat through metal. Dispose of or store degreasers according to instructions on the packaging.

Things You'll Need

  • Degreasing fluid, 1 gallon jug
  • Toothbrushes
  • Eye protection
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic container large enough to submerge the model
  • Hobby knife
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About the Author

Gary Powl began his career as a professional journalist in 1989, serving as a copy editor, reporter, columnist and supervisor. He now works in a paleontology lab, molding and casting fossils, and runs his own molding/casting business. He has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Colorado State University.