Is Isopropyl Alcohol Effective for Removing Paint?

Isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as rubbing alcohol, has many uses, including disinfecting, jewelry cleaning, and removing sticky residues. Many are familiar with its popularity as an excellent stain remover, but can it also remove paint from various surfaces? 

We are about to find out in this article and touch on how you will remove the paint using isopropyl alcohol. 

Can Isopropyl Alcohol Remove Paint?

Isopropyl alcohol effectively removes almost all types of paint from different objects, including plastic, wood, resin, and metal surfaces. This pristine and colorless liquid has rapid evaporation and non-damaging properties that can help remove the unwanted layers of paint from your target objects. 

However, isopropyl alcohol is less effective in removing oil-based paint and more effective against water-based paint. 

Isopropyl alcohol is immensely popular among people who constantly work with acrylic paints for miniature projects. This versatile solution can come to the rescue when your miniature project hits a rough patch.

Types of Objects and the Paints

Isopropyl alcohol can remove various paints from different types of objects. Here are some of the paints and materials that it is effective on. 

Acrylic Paint 

Acrylic paint is a popular water-based paint that quickly dries when applied. Acrylic paint or ink has acrylic polymer, which helps the paint dry faster. In short, it is widely applied paint on various types of objects, including canvas, wood, metal, and miniatures. 

When it comes to getting rid of acrylic paint, Isopropyl alcohol is a powerful solution. Once you use this versatile liquid, you can realize it does wonders. Depending on the age of the paints, you may experience differently than others. 

Moreover, the use of Isopropyl alcohol can be useful for removing dried tempera paint from a variety of surfaces, including apparel and other fabrics. Depending on the type of paint or stain, this solvent may require gentle to vigorous rubbing.

In many cases, isopropyl alcohol can be more effective than other paint strippers, including Dettol and Castrol Super Clean. 

Safe for Resin Models

The Isopropyl alcohol, or rubbing alcohol, is also known for scraping off the citadel system paints, enamel, and acrylic paint paints from resin models. Resin serves as an ideal surface for using rubbing alcohol due to its smooth, non-porous nature, ensuring safety.

And the paint removal process is also very simple. You just need to soak a cotton pad or cleaner cloth in Isopropyl alcohol and gently rub the painted resin surface. The paint should start dissolving and wiping away. 

Leaving the miniatures in the alcohol liquid for long periods may not be as effective as rubbing and abrasion. Additionally, the higher the concentration of Isopropyl alcohol, the better it will remove paint. 91% or 99% of concentrations work best, and 70% may work but require more effort.

Pro Tips: While stripping the paint off the resin models and miniatures, consider adding a small amount of washing-up liquid to the rubbing alcohol for improved paint-stripping results. 

Remove Paint and Stain From Wood

Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol can also remove stains and paint from wood. If you want to make your wooden furniture look modern, Isopropyl alcohol can be an excellent option to strip the existing finish from the furniture. 

However, rubbing alcohol can only remove the water-based finish or paint from the wood. The alcohol basically unbinds the polymer from the surface and removes the paint or finish. 

Many people misunderstand the process, thinking that the liquid breaks and removes the paint almost instantly and turns the finish into a soft, mushy substance. But it doesn’t work like that. You still need to scrub the surface with a brush or any scrapper after applying the rubbing alcohol. Rubbing or Isopropyl alcohol only makes the job easier for you. 

You may find somewhere that the Isopropyl alcohol and rubbing alcohol are completely different solvents. Although, they are similar to each other and can do the same job for you. Isopropyl alcohol is more concentrated than rubbing alcohol, where rubbing alcohol contains 70% of Isopropyl alcohol.     

Interior and Exterior Latex Paint

Latex paint is what we know as water-based paint, which uses water as its primary solvent. It is widely used for interior and exterior painting of home walls, buildings, and various surfaces. 

Isopropyl alcohol is a good solvent and strip remover for breaking down latex paint and removing it from the surface. However, some experts suggest it may damage or remove the underlying paint, so one needs to be extremely cautious about it. 

When dealing with paint removal with Isopropyl alcohol, especially on surfaces like cinder blocks, it is recommended to test it on a small wall area to ensure it does not damage or discolor the surface. 

Metal Objects

Isopropyl alcohol is not only a usable solvent to remove paint from the metal, but it is also an ideal option for this job. This solvent is widely used by many for cleaning and removing paint off the metal rails, wheels, and other parts without causing harm to the metal. 

The reason it is effective on metal is that metals are non-porous substances like miniature and plastic resins. This makes it safe from damaging the surface. Isopropyl alcohol can easily dissolve and lift these stains, making them easier to remove.

Plastic Surface

Isopropyl alcohol can also remove paint from plastic surfaces. However, Being on the side of caution before proceeding can be a wise decision. Higher concentrations of Isopropyl alcohol can be harsh on plastic paint. 

Do not prolong the exposure on the plastic surface, and scrub the surface gently to avoid scratches. Rinse the surface thoroughly after removing the paint so no Isopropyl contents remain. Ensure no alcohol residue remains on the plastic, which could lead to long-term damage.

How to Remove Latex Paint From a Wall or Any Surface?

Here is the step-by-step process for removing latex paint from the wall.

Accumulate Necessary Materials

Before doing anything, collect all the necessary materials for the job, including Isopropyl alcohol, a lint-free cloth, a plastic scraper or putty knife, and hand gloves for protection.

Apply the Solvent to a Small Area

Many experts recommend testing Isopropyl alcohol on small areas. This test ensures the rubbing alcohol works fine without causing any damage or discoloration. Some rubbing alcohol can indeed cause discoloration or dyeing on the surface. The goal of this step is to confirm that the solvent you’re using is the right one.

Rubbing the Painted Surface

Now, wear safety hand gloves. Soak or damp the lint-free cloth you gathered during preparation into the liquid. Rub the surface with this wet, damp cloth for a few minutes. After you are done rubbing, wait for 5-10 minutes for the alcohol to dissolve the paint. 

If you don’t have any hand gloves, you can use an ordinary brush and soak its bristle to rub on the painted surface.

Scrape Off the Paint 

After the paint has been removed or loosened, use a plastic scraper or putty knife to scrape off the loosened paint gently. Be careful not to apply too much pressure to avoid damaging the underlying surface. Continue doing the process repeatedly until the whole paint is scraped off.

Clean the Surface

Once all the paint is removed, you can use another fabric cloth to clean the surface. Soak the cloth into the water and rub it against the wall to remove any residue of Isopropyl alcohol and paint. 

After that, rinse all the materials in fresh water and let them air-dry thoroughly, preferably in a sunny place.

What Are the Safety Measures When Using Isopropyl Alcohol for Removing Paints?

Considering the safety precautions before stripping off the paint is important. For instance, Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) is flammable. Distancing any flames and heat sources is crucial to avoid potential accidents. Additionally, proper ventilation is essential to prevent exposure to its vapors. 

While IPA is generally considered safe for brief skin contact, it can lead to dryness and, if used extensively, defatting of the skin. For this reason, it is recommended that gloves be worn, such as nitrile or thicker butyl gloves, especially for prolonged contact.

If the IPA or Isopropyl alcohol accidentally comes into contact with the eyes, immediately rinse the eyes with clean water. You can wear an eye protector glass to avoid this type of accident. Moreover, disposing of the IPA waste in the correct location is also recommended. 

Pouring it down the drain is discouraged because it can be harmful to the environment. Disposal options include using a dedicated container and keeping the container outdoors to allow any fumes or vapors from the IPA to disperse into the open air. 

It will evaporate much faster outdoors compared to indoors due to exposure to moving air, sunlight, and higher temperatures.


Isopropyl alcohol, commonly known as rubbing alcohol, offers a practical solution for removing paint and stains from various surfaces. Whether you’re dealing with a recent spill or a stubborn, older stain, Isopropyl alcohol provides a cost-effective and accessible method to restore the pristine appearance of your belongings. Sometimes, Isopropyl alcohol can be harsh on sensitive surfaces such as plastic, rubber, and leather. In such cases, using a less concentrated alcohol solution and employing a gentle touch while rubbing and scrubbing is recommended. Alternatively, you can consider using commercial paint strippers, which are more forgiving on sensitive surfaces.

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