How To Remove Spray Paint From Metal – Easy DIY Method!

It’s stressful to have unwanted spray paint on a metal surface. Things are even more annoying if it happens with your car. Yes, it’s true that removing spray paint from metal is quite difficult because it sticks to metal so well. So, how can you possibly remove spray paint from metal?

You can follow different methods like using nail polish remover, baking soda, soapy water, lacquer thinner, or detailing clay. Every method has its individual way and you can follow one of them that seems just right for you.

Let’s dive into the details without wasting time anymore.

Can You Remove Spray Paint From Metal?

Yes, most paint can be removed with a degreaser and scrubber. Be sure to use the right kind of cleaner for the particular type of paint – chemicals that are designed for electronic equipment or other non-metal surfaces may not work well on metal.

It’s very easy to remove spray paints that are water-based but the sad truth is, most spray paint are oil-based and they’re difficult to remove. However, some of our methods are traditionally followed for years and you’ll find them useful whether it’s water- or- oil-based spray paint.

Removing spray paint from metal, especially from car surfaces can seem difficult. Let’s see how to remove spray paint from a car in the next sections.

5 Useful Methods to Remove Spray Paint from Metal

There are so many methods to remove spray paint from metal and for every method, you will need different items. Here we will show you two DIY methods to remove spray paint. Below are the things you’ll need to remove spray paint from car.

Method 1: Nail polish Remover

  • Nailpolish Remover
  • Cotton

Method 2: Baking Soda

  • Baking Soda
  • Vinegar
  • Rubbing Alcohol
  • Hot Water
  • Old Tooth Brush

Method 3: Using Detailing Clay

  • Detailing clay
  • Wax
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Clay lubricant

Method 4: Using Lacquer Thinner

  • Clean towel or cloth
  • Lacquer thinner

Method 5: Using Soap and water

  • Soap
  • Bucket
  • Clean water
  • Clean towels

If you don’t have any of the items at home, you may click on the name of that item and buy instantly. The best products are suggested here.

How To Remove Spray Paint From Metal?

There are a few different spray paint removal methods and the best method depends on the type of spray paint, the severity of the spray, and your level of experience. 

If you’re just trying to clean up small areas then some homemade solutions will help you a lot. Let’s see two DIY methods to remove these colour sprays. These methods just need some items that are available in the home of most people.

Nailpolish Remover

It may sound so weird that you can ask ‘Does nail polish remover remove spray paint? Is it for real?’

Well, yes, this is a DIY method that you can follow if you have all the ingredients at home. This method for removing spray paint from a car requires only two things. The nail polish remover and cotton. Let’s see how it works.

  • Take some nail polish remover into a pot.
  • Put the cotton on the nail polish remover and make it wet.
  • Now rub the painted area well. Rub firmly.

After some time you will see the paint coming out. This will take some time because the paint is not easy to remove. Watch the video to get a better idea of how it works.

Baking Soda Method

There are a few ways that you can remove spray paint from metal, but the most effective and nontoxic method is to use baking soda. Only this element is enough to remove any kind of paint but if you can add some elements to it, the mixture will work like magic.

Step 1: Make The Mixture

First of all, take a blank pot. The Pot size will be based on the area of the paint you want to remove. Then add some baking soda, vinegar, rubbing alcohol, and hot water.

Speaking of using rubbing alcohol on metal surfaces, know that it can damage the clear coat of your car. So, you need to dilute the alcohol with water instead of directly applying it on the car’s surface. For this, take 10-15% rubbing alcohol with 85-90% of water and then use the solution for further steps.

After taking all of them into the pot, take a spoon and mix them well. If baking soda is mixed well with other liquids, the mixture will be completed then. Now you are ready to use them in the paint removal process.

Step 2: Rub The Painted Area

Now, you have to put the brush on the mixture and brush that area. You need to brush with force so that the paint comes out. Smooth and soft polish will not remove them.

After a certain period of time, you will see the colours are gone. The process will be easier if you can put the whole metal into the mixture for a few minutes and then start brushing. Here is the video that will help you a lot.

Detailing Clay Method

This is one of the easiest methods and there’s close to zero chance of getting the metal surface damaged.

Step 1: Wash the surface

First off, you need to wash and dry the metal surface. If it’s your car, you can either wash it by hand or take help from an automatic car wash.

Since you’ll be using hot water and soap while washing the car, some of the paint can even be removed already if the spray paint is still fresh.

Step 2: Knead the detailing clay

To make sure that you can handle the clay more easily, there are a few preparatory tasks to do. Cut the clay in half and seal it in a zip lock bag. Then, place the bag in a bowl of warm water. This will help the clay to be more manageable.

Step 3: Use a clay lubricant

In this step, you’ll want to use a clay lubricant so the clay doesn’t stick to the paint.

Before you spray the lubricant, shake the bottle well and then spray it onto the clay and on the metal surface. Use an adequate amount so the clay glides over and doesn’t smudge onto the surface.

Step 4: Rub the clay over the paint

Now, take the clay and rub it back and forth over the paint. Make sure you put gentle pressure and keep rubbing until the paint is removed. Once done, use the microfiber cloth to wipe any residue from the surface.

Step 5: Wax the surface  

If it’s your car, using detailing clay on your surface removes the previous wax. For this, you need to do a little extra task and wax your car because it’s an important step to prevent further damage.

Waxing also ensures that your car gets its shine back. The wax should come with a sponge or anything like this, use it to apply the wax, and make sure you apply the wax in a circular motion.

That’s it, you’re done with an effective way of removing spray paint from your car or any other metal surfaces.

The Lacquer Thinner Method

Use this method only if you can’t remove the spray paint using other methods. If you wonder ‘will lacquer thinner remove clear coat?, yes, lacquer thinner can be too strong on the surface and it may damage the original paint on the metal surface.

It’s because lacquer thinner is one of the most powerful solvents out there and being careful is a must while dealing with it.

Step 1: Apply lacquer thinner

Take a small amount of lacquer thinner on a clean cloth and rub it on the painted area. You’ll notice the paint start rubbing away. If you ask ‘will laquer thinner damage clear coat?’

Yes, using an excessive amount of lacquer thinner and using it in the wrong way can damage and even strip car paint. Starting with a small amount of thinner will help you manage the potential risks better.

Step 2: Rinse the area

Since you’ve been rubbing the area for a while, the paint should already be removed. Now, rinse the area using clean water so there’s no residue of the paint thinner.

Yes, it’s that simple!

The Soap and water Method

Yes, soap and water can be a less effective way but it’s the best way to remove spray paint if the spray paint is not old enough. It’s the most inexpensive way you can say. But again, the result will depend on how quickly you notice the paint.

Step 1: Mix soap and water

Take enough amount of warm water in a bucket and add soap to make a good mixture. Then, take a towel that’s clean enough because a dirty one will make the soapy water less effective.

Step 2: Scrub the painted area

Dip the towel or rag and start scrubbing the painted area from the edges inward. Scrub the paint using small circular motions. And, make sure you frequently rinse the towel to keep it clean throughout the washing time.

Step 3: Wash the area

Once the paint is completely removed, wash the area and air dry it. The paint will easily come off if it was applied recently. So, this is it.

After discussing all the useful methods, if you ask how to remove paint from metal without chemicals, think about using a heat gun, paint stripper, or orbital sander.

How to Remove Spray Paint From Aluminum

Although removing spray paint from aluminium is not much different from removing the paint from other metals, you need to be gentler because aluminium is a soft metal and requires extra carefulness.

The easiest solution for removing spray paint from aluminium is to wipe the paint using vinegar. To do so, soak a rag in vinegar and clean any stubborn paint with it. Once done, wash the area using cold water and use a clean cloth to dry the area as soon as possible.

How to Remove Graffiti From Metal

There are easy solutions for removing graffiti from metal, you don’t have to repaint the surface, just cleaning the graffiti will get the job done. Below is the easiest DIY graffiti removal process.

  • Use any common paint thinner like acetone, lacquer thinner, or mineral spirits to wipe the graffiti.
  • If the graffiti still remains, rub it using light sandpaper and it should be gone.
  • If it still doesn’t go away, use a pressure washer to power-wash it.

At least one of the tips should work regarding removing graffiti from metal surfaces. If any of them doesn’t work out, paint over the graffiti.

Additional Tips to Clean More Efficiently

By now, you know how to get spray paint off metal. Here are some pro tips that will help you throughout the cleaning process and make sure that no cleanser damages the painted surface.

  • Using wire-bristled brushes or coarse sandpaper (below 80) on a metal surface will surely damage or pit the surface. So, it’s a must to avoid these in any way.
  • If you’re cleaning the paint from a hard-to-reach corner or crevice point, use an old toothbrush.
  • If you use a chemical solvent to clean the paint, make sure you leave the chemical on the affected area for only how long it’s suggested in its instructions.
  • If using a regular clay bar or a ‘clay bar lubricant homemade’ doesn’t get the job done, use a more aggressive clay bar. But before doing so, try to do the task using the regular clay bar if possible. Use a lot of lubricant and of course, don’t apply too much pressure.
  • If you’re dealing with spray paint on a car, do not apply any solvent method on headlights because it will surely damage them.

Safety Tips

No matter what, practice safety. Below are some safety practices you must follow throughout the process of removing spray paint from a car.

  • If you work with a chemical solvent or paint stripper, make sure to work outdoors if possible. Or at least, do it in a well-ventilated area.
  • Don’t forget to wear a face mask and gloves to avoid dangerous chemical contact when working with solvents.
  • Once the task is complete, make sure you dispose of the chemicals, paint, and materials properly.

Products to Avoid When Removing Spray Paint from Metal

You can’t use a random commercial product to remove spray paint from metal because there are chances of damaging the painted surface. Try not to use the below-mentioned products and here’s why.


WD-40 is a common multi-purpose lubricant and cleaner that’s widely used to remove paint from different surfaces. You may also hear of using wd40 to remove spray paint from car But this product can’t strip sprayed finishes. Of course, it’s enough to remove the dirt and debris over a coating but it won’t remove the coating.


It’s a mild acidic ingredient and it can damage the metal surface. Although the acidity is mild, its chemical composition is still a threat to the metal frame. So, it’s best to avoid this thing.


Bleach can corrode and eat away at the metal frame. It can even discolour and weaken the surface if you use it to remove spray paint.

How Soon Can You Repaint the Metal?

If you’re planning to repaint the metal after removing the spray paint, wait until the metal is neutralized and dry. In general, it can take around 4 hours. Also, which removal method you have followed can change the timing.

For example, if you scraped or sanded the surface, it’s okay to repaint the surface immediately because in this case, the surface doesn’t need to dry.

But if you used a chemical solvent to remove the paint, the surface needs to be completely dry before you repaint it. Try to neutralize the metal after every time you use chemicals on it.

Because neutralizing will help remove any remaining solvent that can eat away the metal.

Also, it will help the surface to prevent any new paint from sticking to it. Use anything like turpentine, white spirits, or mineral spirits to neutralize the metal.

Best Spray Paint Remover From Metal

The methods we show here are DIY methods. But there are some readymade solutions that are made to remove spray paint. Here we are going to suggest you the best product to remove paint from metal that will reduce the hassle of making these things at home.

There are many different types of spray paint removers available on the market, but one of the most popular is probably Goo Gone. This product is made from a variety of safe and natural ingredients, such as hydrolyzed yeast, citric acid, glycerin, and bona mini oil.

Goo Gone can work to remove a wide range of surfaces including metal, plastics, glass, wood… really anything! It’s also effective at removing tough stains like grease or bloodstains. Simply apply Goo Gone liberally to the surface you want to clean and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with an old toothbrush or cloth.

Some other items that will work like Goo Gone are listed here:

  • Motsenbocker’s Lift Off 411-01 Spray Paint Graffiti Remover
  • Krud Kutter Graffiti Remover
  • Klean Strip Aircraft Non-Methylene Chloride Paint Remover
  • Stoner Motsenbocker’s Lift Off 45406 16-Ounce Paint Scuff and Graffiti Remover Spray
Remove Spray Paint From Metal Infographic

Frequently Asked Questions

Does alcohol remove spray paint?

Yes, alcohol removes spray paint but it can also damage the older paint remaining on the surface. For this, you need to dilute the alcohol using the right amount of water first. For 85-90% of water, use 10-15% of rubbing alcohol to prevent damage.

Will mineral spirits remove spray paint?

Yes, mineral spirit helps remove spray paint from metal surfaces but only if it’s fresh paint. To remove hardened paint, you need to use something stronger like turpentine.


There are some more methods that will help you to remove the spray paint from metal. But remember, based on the metal’s condition and paint type, the methods may work or not. 

But if the metal is new and the paint is normal then those two processes are enough. Always wear safety gloves while working with these chemicals. We hope you find the best method to solve your problem. That was all for today. Thanks for reading from us.

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William Baldwin

This Is William Baldwin, The Founder & Managing Editor of this website. Me and my team share automotive tips, tricks, and news

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at with a passion for the automotive industry.