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3 Steps To Remove Paint From Plastic Models

How to remove paint from plastic models?

In this article, you will learn how to remove paint from plastic models so that you can repaint them.

You might want to do this if you buy used painted models and want to paint them yourself. Alternatively, if you want to sell them, taking the paint off and priming the models can make them look more appealing

Remove Paint From Plastic Models Can Look Easy To Do, But…

Removing paint from plastic models is easy only if you know how to do it correctly.

As a personal experience, I had bought some painted models from a friend that I wanted to repaint. I was lucky that the models were not primed, as this makes the process more difficult.

I also had some Tau models that I had painted about 4 years ago and wanted to paint them again. I couldn’t just paint over the old paint because when I had first painted the models, I used way too much paint. Guess what? The first coat of paint had filled all the cracks in the model and obscured most of the detail.

remove paint from plastic model with cleaner

The 4 Materials You Need for Removing Paint

Other cleaners and chemicals also work, but simple green will not damage the model.

STEP 1 – Soak The Models In Simple Green Cleaner

If you have time to let the model soak for a while, mix the simple green with water.

I needed about 750ml of cleaner to cover half of my tank because I could flip it and soak again. I used a ratio of water to cleaner of 2:1. The soak time estimates in this guide are using this mixture. (Tip: Soak the models in a tub or bowl that you don’t care about.)

Completely submerge your models in the cleaner for about 24 hours

The longer the models soak the easier the paint comes off. You will be able to scrape the paint off after only 3-4 hours, but it will be much easier after 24 hours.

Leaving the models in for too long should not harm them. I once left a few models in for 2 weeks to make sure, and they were fine.

Simple green also weakens dried super glue. Any “green stuff” will easily come off after soaking. 

The picture below is after soaking before any scrubbing. I wrapped the tub in plastic wrap so the simple green wouldn’t smell as much.

remove paint from plastic figures

Scrub the models right after they come out of the cleaner mixture.

STEP 2 – Scrub The Plastic Models To Remove Paint

Here are the steps to scrub and remove paint from plastic models.

First, use an old toothbrush to get most of the paint off of your model, occasionally rinsing the model in a tub of water.

Don’t work at this step for too long, just get most of the paint on the exposed faces off.

The first picture is after about a minute of scrubbing.

Don’t leave the models out of the cleaner mixture before taking all the paint off. The paint will dry back onto the model after a few hours.

STEP 3 – Scrape The Plastic Models To Remove Paint

This part can take a while. Just scrape at the model with a toothpick until it gets too dull.

On the four models you see below, I spent about 2 hours picking at scraping and picking at them. It’s time-consuming but easy. It can be done while listening to music or watching a movie (LOTR for example). 

Focus on the areas where the paint really covers up the model’s detail. You can use pins or needles instead of toothpicks, but they can scratch the models.

Let’s Repaint Your Miniature

If you want to learn how to start your miniature painting project correctly, we wrote an entire article on this subject right here.

You can now repaint the models or sell them for much more than a model covered in paint.

If you want to go one step further, you can also take apart some models.

While Simple Green helps, I found that putting models in the freezer really helps with taking apart models made of metal. The glue becomes brittle, and the model easily comes apart. I also tried this with plastic models, but I’m not sure if the weakened glue was from the simple green or the freezer.

As mentioned before, don’t leave the models out of the cleaner mixture before taking all the paint off. The paint will dry back onto the model after a few hours.

Removing Paint From Your Scale Models | Tutorial

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