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How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Plastic Models

Updated February 21, 2017

Constructing plastic models is a popular hobby that can supply you with decorations for yourself or thoughtful gifts for others. Whether a mistake was made or tastes have changed, removing paint from a model may be necessary. Stripping paint from a plastic model requires careful attention and the right materials to ensure that no harm comes to the model itself.

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  1. Obtain the paint stripper you want to use for your model. Paint stripper is available at many arts and crafts, hardware and retail auto parts stores. Read labels and warnings carefully, as some paint strippers can be extremely hazardous, or are meant to work only on specific types of materials.

  2. Find a container with enough room to hold the paint stripper and the model itself. For smaller models, cups or small bowls will suffice, while larger models may require buckets.

  3. Fill your container with enough paint stripper solution to effectively cover the model. Place the model into the solution--the model should be completely submerged in paint stripper for most effective use. Let soak for about 48 hours.

  4. Remove the model from the paint stripper, wearing latex gloves to prevent exposure to your skin. Using a soft cloth, wipe the paint away. A toothbrush is an effective tool for getting into grooves or small niches in a model. You can also run the model under water to help remove paint spots.

  5. Repeat step four multiple times as needed. If the model's paint has been dry for a while, or the model is covered in several layers of paint, you may need to make several attempts. Continue until you are able to rub away all of the old paint.

  6. Tip

    Test your chosen paint stripper on an unwanted piece of plastic to be sure the chemicals won't damage the model. Although paint stripper will work to remove paint from a model, some sources also suggest that the commercial cleanser Pine-Sol and engine degreasers will be just as effective.


    Always take proper precautions, including gloves and possibly face masks, when working with corrosive chemicals. Be sure to thoroughly wash hands, cloths, bowls and other materials that come in contact with the paint stripper.

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Things You'll Need

  • Paint stripper
  • Container (large enough to hold liquid and model)
  • Latex gloves
  • Paintbrush or soft cloth

About the Author

Samantha Volz has been involved in journalistic and informative writing for over eight years. She holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Lycoming College, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, with a minor in European history. In college she was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper and completed a professional internship with the "Williamsport Sun-Gazette," serving as a full-time reporter. She resides in Horsham, Pennsylvania.

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