Whether its graffiti, a crafty blunder or just a bit of overspray, unwanted spray paint on glass doesn't spell disaster. In many cases, you might already have what you need to remove it and if not, it won't cost a fortune to make the paint magically disappear.
Removing Graffiti From Glass
If the windows on your home or business have been vandalized by unscrupulous teenagers with spray paint cans, there is a product that can help you erase the damage without the need to call in professional help. It's called SoSafe and comes in multiple, color-coded formulas designed to work on different surface materials. The company is included in a list for removal and coatings companies at The Nograf Network Inc.
SoSafe Yellow is the gentlest formula and is recommended for tinted or coated glass. SoSafe Green is recommended for untreated glass while also being appropriate for tinted or coated glass. Green is formulated to work faster than yellow, especially in colder temperatures. SoSafe Red Pro works on glass and a number of other surface materials. The following instructions apply to the use of SoSafe Red Pro.
- SoSafe (Red Pro)
- Rubber gloves
- Safety glasses
- Scouring pad
- Microfiber cleaning rags
- Allow the cleaner to sit at least 30 seconds or up to a maximum of 90 seconds.
- Scrub the marks lightly with your scouring pad.
- Wet a cleaning rag in the water bucket and wring it out. Wipe away the cleaner and dissolved paint.
You can find all the SoSafe cleaning formulas in quart-size spray bottles at Copper State Supply for about $22.
Removing Spray Paint From a Mirror
One of the easiest ways to give an old mirror a completely new look is to paint the frame. A few coats of spray paint gets the job done in just minutes. However, if paint seeps under the paper or tape you applied to protect the glass, the following remedy can save the day.
- Rubber gloves
- Microfiber cleaning cloths
- Nail polish remover (with acetone)
- Find a well ventilated area to work in. Wearing rubber gloves, wet a microfiber cleaning cloth with nail polish remover.
- Hold the dampened cloth against the paint on the mirror to loosen the bond. When you notice the paint starting to soften, use the cloth to scrub it away.
- Use a second cloth dampened with water to wipe away the nail polish remover. Finish by cleaning the mirror with a commercial glass cleaner or a homemade glass cleaner that prevents streaks.
Chemical-Free Options to Remove Spray Paint From Glass
If you don't mind using a little elbow grease, you can ditch the chemicals for some non-toxic household items and a few simple tools like a window scraper to remove paint from glass.
Lubricating the glass first with soapy water helps prevent scratches and will also cause the paint to stick together instead of flaking off in small pieces. This is particularly helpful when removing large painted commercial displays.
- Glass measuring cup (larger than 1 cup)
- Thick rubber gloves
- Microfiber cleaning cloths or microfiber mop (for large windows)
- Liquid dish soap
- Bucket of water
- Plastic tarp
- Old towels
- Super fine steel wool #0000
- Window scraper with razor blade
- Window squeegee with rubber blade
- Lay the plastic tarp directly underneath the window or windows you are going to clean. Protect wood sills by laying a dry towel along the bottom of the window frame.
- Pour 1 cup of white vinegar into the glass measuring cup and bring it to a boil in the microwave.
- Wearing thick rubber gloves to protect your hands from the heat, dip a cleaning cloth into the hot vinegar. Press the rag against the paint spots and rub vigorously to remove the paint. If the paint lifts off, skip to step nine. Otherwise, proceed to the next step.
- Add a couple of squirts of dish soap to the bucket of water.
- Use a cleaning cloth or a microfiber mop to apply a generous amount of soapy water to the window. Wait 2 to 4 minutes and then reapply more soapy water.
- Test the scraper in an inconspicuous area. Push the blade forward and lift it from the glass once you complete the stroke. Stop immediately if you hear a coarse, gritty sound - it could indicate a broken or dull blade. Replace with a new sharp blade. Do not drag the blade backwards or you could scratch the glass.
- Scrape around the window's perimeter, keeping the blade at a 30 to 45° angle from the window's frame. Continue until all the edges are clear.
- Clean the remaining surface, keeping the blade at a 30 to 45° angle. This angle helps slice the paint off in large pieces instead of smaller flakes. Use overlapping vertical or horizontal strokes. If the paint begins to dry or flake, add more soapy water.
- Use the fine steel wool to remove any small pieces of paint remaining on the window. For windows with only a small amount of overspray on them, you may be able to remove it with just the soapy water and scrubbing with the steel wool.
- Do a final rinse with soapy water and use the squeegee to remove the cleaning solution for a streak free finish.
- Carefully fold up the tarp and throw it away in a covered garbage can or follow the proper procedure for paint removal in your area. If you want to save your tarp, wait for the paint pieces to dry and sweep them up with a broom.
Tip: Fine steel wool can also be used to remove spray paint from small glass craft objects such as jars, bowls or vases. This should be done over a disposable plastic container filled with warm soapy water. Once the paint is removed, the container of water should be placed in a safe location to allow the water to evaporate fully before the container can be discarded.
Cleaning rags that have been used with solvents or to clean oil-based paint (like spray paint) shouldn't be laundered or piled up in the trash together - they can become highly flammable or spontaneously ignite. Please dispose of cleaning rags, unused paint and aerosol spray cans responsibly, according to your local hazardous waste management authority.
Good as Gone
No matter which method you decide to try, always test your materials in an inconspicuous place to make sure you don't cause further damage to the glass. Once the unsightly paint is gone, it will seem like it was never there.