5 Proven Ways to Remove Spray Paint (with materials list)

Published by: | Updated: February 22, 2023
JCS Refresh How To Remove Spray Paint

Using spray paint is 10x easier than removing it, but sometimes, it’s necessary. 

As we all know, it can be pretty troublesome, but fortunately, there are a few different methods.

In this article, we’ll discuss how to remove spray paint, the tools you’ll need, practical methods, safety considerations, and other related questions.

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About The Author

Meet the expert behind this article. 



Co-owner & Service Director

Hey there, I’m Cody. 

A decade of residential and commercial pressure washing led me to start JCS Refresh. Now I can share my knowledge with folks like you. 

Reading from Seattle, Washington State with graffiti issues?

Our team also specializes in graffiti removal services.

Quick Answer

Check out the various methods you can utilize when removing spray paint:





Soap & Water

Bucket, Scraper, Water

Any Surface

For Dried Paint

Paint Thinner / Mineral Spirit

Bucket and Water

Concrete, Tile, Glass, Brick, Stone, Metal

For Dried Paint

Acetone / Nail Polish Remover

Rag and Scraper

Plastic, Metal, Vinyl Siding

Pressure Washing

Nozzle (depends on surface)

Any Surface (be mindful of PSI)

For Bigger Projects


Rag, Scraper

Vinyl Siding, Plastic

Quick questions before starting

Let’s answer some quick questions first before proceeding to our main discussion:

How difficult is this to do?

Depending on your method, the difficulty can range from easy to medium. 

However, we recommend hiring graffiti removal services if we’re talking about large projects and the extent.

How long does it take?

If you’re dealing with mild spray paint issues, expect it to take 10 to 30 minutes, but removing a big area might take 1 to 3 hours.

JCS Refresh How To Remove Spray Paint

How to remove spray paint

In this section, we’ll discuss the methods, tools, and equipment you need.

Soap and water

Tools: dishwashing liquid, warm water, scraper/brush

Before panicking, try common methods like soap and water. 

This technique is usually accompanied by some elbow grease and is recommended on surfaces such as plastic or glass.

Paint thinner or mineral spirit

Tools: Paint Thinner/Mineral Spirit, Bucket, Water

This method is considered heavy-duty and perfect for dried spray paint.

However, read the manual beforehand because some products must be diluted with water to avoid surface damage. 

This technique is ideal for:

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Acetone or nail polish remover

Tools: Acetone, Rag, Scraper

If you’re dealing with mild graffiti or bigger sections of spray paint, a nail polish remover that contains acetone works wonders. 

Acetone is suitable for:

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Pressure washing

Using a pressure washer is an excellent alternative for big projects that can’t be cleaned by hand. 

However, don’t forget to ask for help when necessary. 

Pressure washing companies usually provide graffiti removal services and are worth the cost.

Even without chemicals, a pressure washer can remove spray paint with ease. But if the area is more extensive or loaded with layers, we recommend adding a paint stripper.

A pressure washer is the best option for most surfaces; however, you should use it carefully. Make sure to set the proper PSI or else it can cause harm to surfaces like wood and glass.

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Tools: Oil, scrapper, rag

Oil is another method to remove spray paint. Since spray paint is predominantly oil, fight oil with oil. 

For removing paint, you have many options – olive oil, baby oil, or cooking oil will do the job. Simply pour oil onto the surface and rub it until the paint peels away. This technique is a great starting point, particularly with plastic or vinyl siding materials.

Safety considerations

When removing spray paint, you may need to use harsh chemicals that exude irritating fumes or a powerful machine. For those reasons, stay safe!

Wear appropriate protective clothing

No ifs, ands, or buts- always wear protective clothing such as gloves, respirators, or dust masks.

Test the method

If you are not sure about the cleaning process you have chosen, you can try it out on a hidden spot of the surface to see how it works. If needed, you can make changes or adjustments.

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Frequently asked questions

As you can see, there are various techniques when removing spray paint, but there are still other frequently asked questions.

Let’s take a look below:

Does rubbing alcohol remove spray paint?

Rubbing alcohol is only able to remove water-based and acrylic paints. Since spray paint is usually oil-based, it is best to use paint thinners or mineral spirits to get rid of it.

Does WD-40 remove spray paint?

Yes, WD-40 can help you with cleaning spray paint off vehicles. It’s a degreaser that can break down the paint, making it easier to wipe away. 

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Will Magic Eraser remove spray paint?

Magic Eraser isn’t meant to take off graffiti but instead to remove stains and grease from surfaces. Plus, it isn’t powerful enough to break down paint molecules.

How does vinegar remove spray paint?

Vinegar can help soften latex and oil-based paints, making them easier to take away. While it is a natural acid that is scratchy on many surfaces, it does not dissolve the paint. You’ll need to use a scraper or brush to get rid of any extra paint.


If you want to take off spray paint, it’s not a problem! You can use a particular technique for every exterior. But if the graffiti is extensive, think about getting help from professionals. 

Remember that what surface you’re working on makes a difference in which method to use. Check out our guide with steps for each material!