Paints & Coatings Resource Center

Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

December, 2005

Removing Paint from Plastic

Q. I need to remove several layers of paint from a polyethylene substrate. Is there a readily available solvent that will remove this paint without adversely affecting the polyethylene? Most paint strippers/removers cannot be used on plastic, but what about polypropylene, specifically?

A. Some chemical paint strippers (paint removers) are more aggressive than others and do not affect plastics in the same way. Polyethylene is a fairly solvent resistant plastic and is more tolerant to solvents than other plastics. Offhand I don't know which paint remover you should purchase, but I would look at the labels on paint cans in the hardware store and select some of the milder solvents, such as benzyl alcohol. Alternatively, purchase the smallest quantities available of a range of removers (where the ingredients differ) and test them on the polyethylene before you do the real job.

Best wishes,

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