Paint removal can be a pesky job and you don’t always have paint stripper on-hand when you need it. The good news is that there are a number of recipes for your own DIY paint remover and I’ll be sharing some of the best with you today.
We’ll go over recipes, eco-friendly paint removal alternatives, and even some tips on removing paint for furniture that can help you to get your project started with confidence. Let’s talk about the joys of DIY Paint remover!
Safety first, folks
Before I get started on these recipes, I just wanted to give you a friendly reminder to always practice safety first. Some of the recipes here are quite strong and a few of them have a strong smell to them. So, be sure you are using gloves so that you don’t get any paint remover on your skin and some goggles and a facemask are a good idea for some of the stronger blends.
So, suit up for safety and be sure that you are scraping away from your face and any exposed body parts!
Baking soda method
One tried and true method of paint removal just takes a little baking soda and some boiling water. This little trick comes in handy when you need to remove paint from your tools, so it’s definitely a keeper. To make your own baking soda paint remover just use the following steps:
- Get an old pot that you DON’T use for cooking and fill it up with regular old tap water.
- Heat the water to a boil and then you’ll want to add ¼ cup of baking soda.
- Let it simmer like a soup but do not stir the mixture. At this point, place your tools into the baking soda brew and let them ‘cook’ for 15 to 20 minutes.
- Take it off the heat and you can remove the tools, placing them on an old washcloth
- With an old toothbrush, give the hardware a good scrubbing and the paint should come right off!
While it’s only a removal method for your tool, it’s a handy recipe since there’s always a little baking soda in the pantry. You also don’t have to deal with fumes from chemical strippers, which is another huge bonus when it comes to maintaining your hardware.
Hydrogen peroxide paint removal
Hydrogen peroxide is another thing that you almost always have around the house and as it turns out, it’s also a great paint remove. It’s especially good for removing latex paint from your carpet and if you want to try this little trick then just use the following steps:
- Wet the area with a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide and let it sit for an hour
- Put on some kitchen gloves and simply use some steel wool or even a damp cloth to scrub the area
Typically, an hour will loosen up latex paint that’s gotten in the carpet with about an hour of soaking, but if it’s still a bit stubborn then just give it another application of the hydrogen peroxide and let it soak for another hour. The oxidizing qualities of the hydrogen peroxide are pretty stout and can even remove nail polish, so be sure to give this little peroxide hack a try.
Hot Vinegar is next up on our list and while it doesn’t completely remove paint, it is quite excellent for loosening it up and making paint removal easier. To use it, all you need to do it heat up some white vinegar to boiling and then just apply it to a painted surface with an old brush.
This is a great method if you don’t have any chemical strippers in the house and it definitely works. If the paint doesn’t soften with one application, just give it another coat of the hot vinegar and it should become more pliable very quickly. Test it out and you can see for yourself!
Simple liquid laundry detergent can be used for removing paint from small metal items, such as doorknobs, tools, and more. To use it you’ll need a pot of water (that you don’t use for cooking!) and simply heat up the water, adding 2 tablespoons of your laundry detergent along with the metal that you want to clean.
A 15 or 20 minute soak will really loosen up that paint, so that you can give the items a good scrubdown and in no time at all they should be shiny and paint-free!
One classic DIY paint remover has stuck around through the years for a very good reason. Also known as sodium hydroxide, Lye can remove paint a treat and it will even dissolve glue.
With this in mind, you’ll want to make sure that you always use gloves! Lye can be used if handled
“it can burn your skin, so always handle with care”
properly but it can burn your skin, so always handle with care and keep this method for outdoor use only.
To mix up your own paint remover with sodium hydroxide, just use the following steps:
- Fill a bucket with 2 gallons of cold water
- With a measuring cup, measure out 1 cup of your lye and add this to your bucket, along with 1 cup of corn starch.
- Mix it up with a stick or a wooden spoon and your lye is ready to go!
To use this mixture, you’ll want to apply it to the painted surface that you are trying to strip with the use of an oil-based paintbrush. Leave it on the surface for about 5 minutes and the paint should weaken enough to remove easily with a scraper or even just a knife.
When you’re done, just clean the area with a little vinegar first and then water, so that the lye is all safely removed once you’ve gotten the job done.
Soda, Ammonia, and Borax
A quick and effective paint remover that you can mix up with common cleaning ingredients you’ve got around the house. While ammonia, borax, and washing soda are great cleaners on their own, mixing them together can create a paste that’s excellent for paint removal.
To whip up a batch of your own, just use the following steps:
- In a plastic bucket or large plastic container mix 1 part Borax, 1 part Ammonia, and 1 part washing soda.
- Add a small amount of water to the mixture and you should be able to stir this in a few minutes into an effective paste.
To use the paste, you’ll simply need to brush it onto a painted surface that you are looking to strip and leave the mixture on for approximately 15 to 20 minutes. This should weaken the paint sufficiently to easily finish the renewal with a bit of steel wool and a little elbow grease!
Soda and flour
Washing soda can be used on its own for paint removal, all you need to do is add a little flour. Washing soda is available in the detergent / cleaning aisle of every grocery store and mixing it up to make it more useful is a great way to get that paint removed that can save you a bundle. Mix a batch up with the following steps:
- Get yourself a bucket or a smaller plastic container and you want to mix 4 tablespoons worth of washing soda for every cup of water.
- Next, you’ll need want to carefully start adding tablespoons of flour. Add spoon by stoon, stirring the mixture, until we get the consistency of a paste.
Your paste is now ready! To use your washing soda paint remover, just apply the paste to the surface that you are wanting to clean and then let it sit for about half an hour. This should weaken the paint sufficiently to allow you to scrape it off with ease.
Removing paint – other methods that you might consider
There are plenty of ways to tackle big paint removing jobs without having to rely on a bunch of unnecessary, and often caustic chemicals. We’re including additional options that you should keep in mind to help get the job done q1uickly, cleanly, and efficiently. While some are practical for very specific paint remover jobs, it never hurts to know all of your options. Let’s take a peek at some alternatives to mixing up your own DYI paint remover.
If you’ve got to strip a lot of paint outside then have you considered a pressure washer? Pressure washers are a great choice, as long as the wood that you are spraying is suitably durable. A PSI of 3000 or 4000 can get a lot of work done fast. Just make sure that you a 25 or 45-degree angle for the tip and point down as you spray.
While you’ll still have small bits that you’ll need to remove by hand, pressure washing paint from an area saves you a lot of time and since you’ll just be using water, it’s one of the cleanest options available.
Also referred to as ‘abrasive blasting’, sandblasting is well worth the equipment rental for large, paint removal jobs where you want to use something powerful while keeping things on the eco-friendly side. The application of sand on the paint quickly strips the surface and will even take paint off of cars, so the equipment rental is well-worth the time that you’ll save.
Sometimes the simplest solution is best and with a little high-grit sandpaper you can strip paint quite efficiently. This takes a little extra elbow grease, but it’s ideal for smaller projects if you’re on a tight budget.
Be sure that you do this in a well-ventilated area or working outside and don’t forget to wear a facemask. Sandpaper works great but you will generate a lot of paint dust and you certainly don’t want to be breathing that!
Citrus-based paint removers
You might not know it, but there are citrus-based paint removers that you can use for your projects if you just want a strong paint stripper without a huge chemical footprint. These can remove oil paints, latex, stains, and more and while they aren’t as strong as some of the more caustic products out there, some of them do come quite close.
One of the best advantages of these is, of course, the smell. One of the biggest pains with paint removal is fumes and nobody likes to have to breathe them in. So, if you’d like an alternative paint stripper that
“One of the biggest pains with paint removal is fumes”
lets you skip past this ugly part of the job then consider going with a Citrus-based paint remover.
Here are two of the best so that you can take a look!
Citristrip Paint and Varnish Stripping gel
Citristrip is a great product if you don’t want to make your own DIY recipe or are simply looking for an eco-friendlier option. This stuff is powerful but it doesn’t incorporate NMP or Methylene chloride in and it even has a citrus scent to make the job a lot more pleasant. To use it, you can apply the gel and it can be left in place for up to 24 hours so this makes Citristrip a good option if you are dealing with multiple layers of paint.
Citristrip can remove latex, lacquer, varnish, oil-based paints and more and it’s good for masonry, wood, and metal surfaces. Finally, it is non-corrosive and biodegradable so if you want a little paint remover that is pleasant and you don’t have to make yourself then this is one of the best.
Confined Space Paint Strip Gel
Another excellent citrus-based paint remover that I can recommend is Confined Space Paint Strip Gel. This works on just about any surface, so it’s good for walls, tiles, bricks… just about anything you want to remove a little paint from. This has a nice, lime scent rather than heavy fumes and this gel is non-toxic and fine for indoor use.
Some paint jobs have to be done in very confined spaces and this is where a citrus-based paint remover really shines. If you’ve got a little indoor work and you’re concerned about fumes, you should definitely give this one a try.
If you’ve got a heat gun in the garage you can use it for paint removal for tools and such. The process is simple, simple requiring that you heat the area so that the paint weakens and bubbles up. After that just use a scraping tool and the paint will come right off!
Another excellent non-toxic option which you might not be aware of is soy gel. Soy gel used by brushing a layer onto the surface that you want to strip and then leaving it there for a few hours to work it’s magic so that you can easily remove the paint later. While it’s not the fastest option, it is eco-friendly and definitely works well.
Blue Bear 605PRO
Just to give you an example of a soy-based stripper, here is Blue Bear 605PRO. This eco-friendly option doesn’t NMP or Methylene Chloride and if you are worried about your plants when working outside, this is a great option to get the job done without that worry.
You’ll want to use protective goggles if you are using this. While it’s a safer alternative to some harsher chemical strippers it can cause a little eye-irritation if you overspray it when yor are applying this stripper. That said, it works wood, metal, and masonry, but it’s not the best choice for fiberglass as it could degrade that surface.
For small latex spills, products like Magic Eraser can quickly get your paint removed. Just make sure to give the surface a quick, light test as this product is capable of dulling a finish. If that’s not an issue, however, Magic Eraser is quick and works a treat!
Bonus tips: Removing paint from furniture
If you are specifically look to remove paint or refinish furniture then we’ve got a few useful tips that you should keep in mind to help ensure that you are getting the job done right. Furniture can be tricky and sometimes you need to be very careful what you use on it to ensure that you don’t do any accidental damage.
Here are some tips that will help you with the process!
Take it apart first
Your furniture can have a lot of items attached that may be easily damaged. Removing things like hinges or knobs before you do any work on the furniture can keep this from happening and while it does take a little extra time, this is definitely something that you want to do – especially with DIY paint remover methods that you haven’t used a few times already.
Better safe than sorry, so don’t forget to take apart or otherwise protect these bits before applying any strippers. For items that aren’t easily removed, you can get a little protection with tape, but removal is best if it’s not going to be a risk.
Make sure you are using the right recipe or product
If you are going to be dealing with lacquers, then you will want to use a lacquer-thinner. Shellacs, by contrast, required denatured alcohols for proper removal. The best thing that you do if you are using a DIY paint remover is to test a small area before you do any major application of it.
This will also save you a lot of time if it turns out that the particular paint or stain that you are trying to remove does not respond well to a particular DIY method so be sure to do a little testing beforehand when it comes to painted and stained furniture.
Clean your DIY paint remover off properly
When using a DIY Paint remover on your furniture projects you want to always make sure that you are cleaning it off properly. Beyond this, you always want to make sure that your chosen cleaning method isn’t going to cause you problems either. Wood can easily swell on you and you certainly don’t want to warp your furniture.
Foil can help your DIY paint remover from evaporating or drying up too quickly
Some DIY paint removers can evaporate quickly, as they don’t have additions such as wax to help slow the process. If you are removing paint from small furniture parts and using a DIY paste, try wrapping them in foil to see if this helps. This will sometimes allow you to treat the items for stubborn paint removal without having to apply as many coats of your DIY paint remover.
Just wrap up the item that you want to test and take a look at it in 20 or 30 minutes to see if it helps.
Power sanders are great if you are comfortable using them
Orbital and Straight-line sanders are amazing, if you know how to use them. Rather than resorting to chemicals, you can remove an old finish from your furniture in record time. Just be sure that know what you are doing, however, as Power Sanders strip an area quickly and you don’t want to damage your furniture.
Getting rid of the remaining traces
Sandpaper, steel wool, and scrapers are all good things to have on hand for the final removal of any pesky remaining particles. These are a must-have for your paint removal, so be sure to have them on-hand to help finalize your work so that you can properly refinish your furniture.
Some final words on paint removal
So, there you have it! Today I’ve given you some DIY recipes that I hope you’ll put to good use. DIY paint removers are handy in a pinch and if you find one you like then they’ll also save you a bundle of cash in the future.
Just be sure not to forget your safety gear and to always test any remover that you aren’t already familiar with for the best results. Finally, don’t forget alternative methods such as a heat gun, pressure washing, or simply good ol’ sandpaper. There are a lot of ways that you can get that pesky paint off of a surface so just check and you might already have exactly what you need at home.