How To Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts

How To Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts? [5 Methods]

Various car parts are made of plastic of different categories like PVC, polyurethane, etc. While painting the car parts, some may spill on these plastic parts. This becomes a concern as to how to remove paint from plastic car parts. 

Solid paint from car plastic parts can be cleaned off using rubbing alcohol as it quickly dissolves the paint. Other ingredients like soap, oil, and acetone are also quite effective in removing paint from plastic sections. However, the process depends on the rigidity of the paint. 

In this article, I intend to focus on multiple methods of washing paint off from plastic to get a clean and safe car to ride. Hold on with me and keep reading if you are looking for the most useful methods. 

5 Methods to Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts: Best Ways

Depending on the toughness of the paint on plastic, the methods and cleaning ingredients vary. If the paint marks are fresh, it is quite easier to remove them than paint that is settled on the surface. Let’s have a look at different cleaning methods of paint on plastic. 

Method 1: Washing Off

If the mark of paint is new on the car part, washing it with diluted dishwashing soap should suffice. Dilute the soap in hot water, mix it well, and dip a rag in it. Rub the plastic part thoroughly.

Repeat it a few times until the paint vanishes. To finish, wash it with clean water and wipe it dry. 

Method 2: Use Vegetable Oil

If the paint has stayed on the plastic for a few hours, an additional process has to be done after implementing method 1. After you clean the plastic segment with diluted soap and rug, wet a microfiber cloth with vegetable oil. Rub the wet cloth toughly on the painted area.

Oil breaks the paint. As it comes off little by little, use a putty knife to scrape off the remaining portion of paint from the parts. Finish by washing with water and drying it. 

Note that it works best on oil-based paint

Method 3: Use Paint Stripper

A paint stripper is one of the most effective ways to strip off stubborn layers of paint. Before using it, sand the painted surface with 80-grit sandpaper to loosen the paint. Now is the turn to use the paint stripper. 

Cover the area with a paint stripper. Once you see the bubble, which may take a few minutes, the paint has come off the plastic.

With a scrub pad, scrub the surface gently to remove the paint residues. You may repeat this if required. End the process with a neutralizer. 

Method 4: Apply Acetone Nail Polish

Acetone nail polish is a useful ingredient to break paint and remove it from plastic. After basic cleaning of the plastic, apply nail polish on the affected area. Leave it for around 10 minutes as it starts working on the layer. Next, wipe out the area with a cloth. 

Similarly, you may use nail polish remover. Most nail polish removers contain acetone which works well on paint on plastic. Apply enough nail polish remover on the paint and wipe it away after a few minutes. Repeat if needed. 

Method 5: Use Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol removes paint without damaging the plastic which makes it a suitable cleaning agent. Spread isopropyl alcohol on the affected area after you clean it well with soapy water. Use a scrub pad or rug to scrub the area thoroughly. 

As the alcohol works on the area, the paint eventually comes off. In the end, wash the part with clean water. 

What Not To Use To Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts? 

I have heard various mishappens of damaged plastic parts in cars due to using the wrong cleaning agents. Not all ingredients that remove paint are safe for plastic.

Considering it as precautionary information, I have listed the cleaning solutions that you must not use on paints over plastic parts. 

  • Ethyl: Ethyl can burn plastic as it is highly combustible. Thus it can damage the plastic. 
  • Linseed Oil: Linseed oil is not at all effective on paint on plastic. It simply hardens the paint making it even more difficult to clean. 
  • Lacquer Paint Thinner: Though effective on other surfaces, they are not safe for plastic parts. They are harsh on plastic causing damage and discoloration.

3 Cautions To Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts: For Best Result

From my own mistakes, I have learned three basic lessons. These lessons ensure safety and the best outcome. Have a look at these cautions and follow these to effectively remove paint on plastic. 

1. Wear Protective Gear: 

Wear gloves, a mask, and goggles while working with alcohol and acetone. To keep yourself safe from all types of odor and spills, wearing protective gear is very important. 

2. Don’t Rub Hard: 

Whichever tool you use, be it a rug or brush, cloth or scrub pad, don’t rub too tough as the plastic starts to appear. If you scrub too harshly on plastic, it may leave scratches and even bend the parts. Rub toughly only on the paint, not on the plastic.

3. Clean Before Removing Paint:

No matter which method you use, basic cleaning of the surface is needed. This not only makes the process effective but also prevents scratches. Therefore, wash the surface well before applying the cleaning agent. 


What Is The Best Way To Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts?

The best way to remove paint from plastic car parts is to use a paint stripper or scrape off the paint. This is a straightforward process suitable for removing stubborn layers of paint from plastic.

Other ways include using acetone or rubbing alcohol. While they require reapplying and rubbing, they are effective in cleaning paint without damaging the plastic.

Does WD-40 Clean Paint from Plastic?

WD-40 is a very popular agent to clean paint off plastic. Applying it two to three times can remove a rigid layer of paint from the plastic. If the paint is new, a single application would suffice.

Spread WD-40 on the paint and rub it off with a towel. Repeat if needed. End by washing the area with clean water.

How To Remove Dried Paint From Plastic Car Parts?

To remove dried paint from plastic on a car, an alcoholic agent like isopropyl is required. Isopropyl breaks paint, loosens the bond, and makes it easily removable. It doesn’t burn or damage the plastic but effectively removes paint.

You may also go for a paint stripper which removes layers of dried paint from plastic. Other agents like WD-40 and acetone also work well on dried paint.

Is Paint Remover Safe to Clean Paint From Plastic Car Parts?

No, paint remover is not safe to use on paint on plastic. Paint remover is a very strong agent which can damage the plastic. It definitely clears out the paint but can severely damage the plastic.

It is better not to take the risk of using paint remover on plastic. Use milder agents like rubbing alcohol and vegetable oil to remove the paint off the car’s plastic parts.

Does Vinegar Remove Paint From Plastic Car Parts?

Vinegar is very mild than the agent required to melt and clear paint on plastic. Though safe for plastic, it is not appropriate for paint. It is not effective in removing paint from plastic car parts.

Using stronger cleaning solutions like rubbing alcohol is better and more effective. Try proven methods rather than using vinegar.

Final Words

Now that I have recommended a number of methods of clearing paint from plastic car parts, you can pick one that is easy for you to execute. All the ingredients are available in the market and some can be found at home too. Pick the right agent and clean the paint from the car. 

Try to treat the paint as soon as possible. No worries if you notice late. You now know the solution to it. So grab the best method and remove the trace of paint from the plastic parts and bring back the neat look in your car. 

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