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How to Get Spray Paint off Glass: 3 Easy Steps + Helpful Tips

how to get spray paint off glass hdr

Whether you’re a victim of untimely vandalism or accidentally over-sprayed spray paint while renovating your home, you’re faced with the same dilemma: removing the spray paint off the surface. 

Spray paint is a nightmare to remove.

They’re stubborn, waterproof, and contain binding agents that natural oil can’t dissolve. 

Luckily, there are several proven ways to remove spray paint from glass surfaces.

This article discusses how to get spray paint off glass in the easiest and fastest way possible.

Why Is Spray Paint So Hard to Remove from Glass Surfaces?

Spray paint on surface

As someone who regularly partakes in DIY projects, I’ve had to scrape and clean spray paint off surfaces more times than I cared to count.

That made me wonder, what’s in spray paint that makes it so hard to remove? 

The answer is actually quite simple. Spray paint is designed to stick to surfaces permanently, so it’s purposely hard to remove.

It also dries much faster than paint out of a can, giving you little to no time to wipe it off while still wet. 

Water-based spray paint fuses together and hardens as the paint dries, so removing it with just water is practically impossible.

removing graffiti spray paint off glass

Dried oil-based spray paint is even more of a hassle to remove because the binding agents it contains don’t dissipate and dissolve in liquid.

Low-quality spray paint chips off as time goes by, so you can actually remove old spray paint from glass with a scraper or a razor blade.

However, this risks scratching the glass surface below, so I recommend you from doing so.

The best way to remove spray paint from glass surfaces is to use solvents like turpentine, mineral spirits, and methylene chloride. 

Avoid solvents with hydrofluoric acid, phosphorus acid, and phosphoric acid as they may cause significant damage to glass, especially in concentrated solutions.

How to Remove Spray Paint from Glass Surfaces

With the right tools and solvents, removing spray paint from glass surfaces is quick and easy.

Simply follow these steps below: 

You’ll Need: 

  • Rubber gloves
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Bucket of water (optional)
  • Dish soap (optional) 
  • Scrapper or soft-bristled brush
  • Solvent of your choice, depending on the glass surface (alcohol, acetone, mineral spirits, turpentine, etc.)

Step 1: Use the Right Solvent 

Paint remover examples

The right solvent depends on the spray paint you’ve used and the type of glass you’re removing it from.

If you’re trying to remove spray paint off fiberglass, avoid acetone-based solvents as they might bend or melt the material. Instead, use a full-strength paint remover.

Plexiglass doesn’t work well with lacquer thinner solvents but it works fantastically with alcohol-based solvents, as well as acetone, mineral spirits, and turpentine.  

Glass works well with most paint removers as long as they don’t contain hydrofluoric acid, phosphorus acid, and phosphoric acid.

These substances don’t work well with glass, so best avoid them entirely. 

Finally, you also need to know what type of spray paint you’re dealing with.

Oil-based spray paint requires tougher solvents than water-based spray paint. 

If you’re not quite sure what to use, you can instead try chemical-free options like white vinegar and liquid dish soap.

They might not be as effective as chemical solvents, but they can still remove most of the paint with a bit of elbow grease. 

Step 2: Clean the Surface 

spray solvents to clean the glass

With your gloves on, spray a generous amount of solvent on the surface you want to clean and let it sit for about 20-30 seconds.

Then, pour the solvent on a microfiber cloth and lightly scrub the paint off. 

If you’re using alcohol or acetone, make sure it has a purity of at least 70%. The higher, the better.

Mineral spirits are a fantastic way to dissolve fresh paint, but it doesn’t work as well with hardened paint.

Turpentine, however, does. If you have a bottle of turpentine oil lying around your garage, it’s definitely worth a try.

If you’d rather not use chemical solvents and don’t mind using a bit of elbow grease, vinegar is your answer.

Vinegar is a miracle cleaner; it not only dissolves mineral deposits, but it can also remove grease, stains, and—you guessed it paint.

Specifically, spray paint. 

Pour about a cup of pure white vinegar into a glass and bring it to a boil in the microwave or stovetop.

Then, dip a clean cloth into the vinegar and press the rag into the paint spot for several minutes to loosen the hardened paint. 

Vigorously rub the affected area with the vinegar-soaked cloth.

If the paint lifts off, continue until you’ve cleaned the entire surface. 

If it doesn’t, add a few squirts of dish soap to a bucket of water and generously soak the glass surface with the soapy water.

Leave it for two to four minutes to loosen the paint and try again.  

Step 3: Finishing Touches 

using glass scraper to remove stubborn spots

Once you’ve removed most of the paint from the glass, use a paint scraper to remove stubborn spots.

You can also use a soft-bristled brush. 

Lubricate the glass surface with warm soapy water or olive oil to prevent scratches.

Most importantly, don’t use too much force; be gentle!

Finally, wipe the surface off with a clean, dry rag to prevent residual paint from hardening up. 

How to Prevent Overspray When Spray Painting 

If you’re big on DIY like I am, you’ve likely over-sprayed a few times on your projects.

Instead of cleaning the mess up afterward, avoid them entirely with these tips:

  • Don’t spray paint outside if the wind is blowing strongly. 
  • Cover the areas you don’t want the spray paint on with adhesive tape, cloth, or old newspapers. 
  • If you’re working on small surfaces, use a High Volume Low Pressure (HVLP) sprayer or an airless sprayer to reduce overspray.
  • Use the right amount of air pressure on your projects. If possible, start with the lowest pressure and build your way up. 
  • Choose the right nozzle size for your paint gun. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can nail polish remover remove spray paint from glass?

Yes, it can. Nail polish remover usually contains acetone, which can remove spray paint from glass. 

Apply a generous amount of nail polish remover onto a cotton ball and hold it against the affected area to soften the paint.

Do this for about 20-30 seconds. Then, gently rub the cotton onto the paint to remove it.

Can Windex remove spray paint?

Windex—or any natural glass cleaner, really—softens spray paint.

However, you can’t remove spray paint with glass cleaner alone.

Since it softens the spray paint, you can remove the loosened paint with a scraper or a razor blade. 

Hold the scraper or blade at a 45-degree angle and gently scrape off the paint. Be careful not to scratch the glass.

Final Thoughts

There you have it, folks; how to get spray paint off glass tables and windows in three easy-to-follow steps! 

As long as you have the right solvent for the glass material you’re working with, you should be able to remove the spray paint without any issues. 

You don’t even need to use commercial-based graffiti-remover; even just vinegar and alcohol will do.

You can also use nail polish remover. Good luck!

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