How to Remove Paint From Plastic Models With Mineral Spirits

Written by sean kotz
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How to Remove Paint From Plastic Models With Mineral Spirits
This model plane could benefit from stripping the paint and repainting. (model aeroplane image by Julija Sapic from Fotolia.com)

Sometimes you just need to strip off a paint job and start over. Perhaps your paint job did not come out the way you wanted, you are updating an old model kit or maybe you got one in a trade and want to make a few changes. Removing paint with a solvent like mineral spirit will work on oil-based paints, but not well with acrylic paint. An undiluted industrial-strength degreasing cleaner will work on acrylics as well as enamels.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • White spirit or industrial strength concentrated degreasing cleaner
  • Rubber gloves
  • Plastic wash basin or tub
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpicks
  • Clean rags
  • Drying cloths

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Identify the type of paint on the model if possible. White spirit and other oil-based solvents can be used on oil based paints, while undiluted degreasing cleaning solutions work best on acrylics.

  2. 2

    Identify fragile parts likely to break in the handling process. For example, antennas, wheel struts,and other extremities are all likely to snap off while cleaning. If possible, remove those parts from the kit before stripping.

  3. 3

    Remove clear plastic and chrome plastic parts from the kit if possible. These can be damaged by solvents.

  1. 1

    Put on rubber gloves and pour your solvent or cleaning solution into a tub or container.

  2. 2

    Immerse the kit or part of the kit in your solvent or cleaning solution and allow to soak for five to 10 minutes.

  3. 3

    Remove the kit and test the paint to see if it is loosening by using a toothbrush or toothpick.

  4. 4

    Repeat the soaking until the paint begins to loosen. This may take only a few minutes if the paint has not been on long or several hours in the case of old paint jobs.

  5. 5

    Scrub with a toothbrush, scrape with toothpicks, wipe away debris with rags and clean off the parts in the final stages with clean cloths.

Tips and warnings

  • Work in a well-ventilated area and avoid contact with your eyes. Safety glasses are a good idea because soap or solvents can fly off the kit as you work.
  • Avoid contact with the skin while using all solvents.
  • Don't leave a styrene plastic kit in a solvent for more than 10 minutes at a time. It can damage the plastic if left to soak too long.

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