Introductory: Using Crown Brush Cleaner to Remove Paint From Plastic

Discussion in 'Tutorials and How Tos' started by LizardbotHero, Dec 29, 2014.

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  1. LizardbotHero

    LizardbotHero I am a warrior

    Jun 2, 2011
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    Hello everyone, I thought I would share a solution for removing paint from plastic parts that doesn't harm the plastic.

    Obligatory disclaimer:


    Now that that's out of the way, the solution:

    Crown Brush Cleaner:


    I found this at Lowes, but I'm sure it is available at other hardware stores as well. I have not tried other brands so I do not know how this compares with other types of brush cleaner or paint thinner, but what I do know is that this particular stuff works, and it works damn well.

    You will also need something to apply the solution. I like to use Q-tips because they can get into the little nooks and crannies pretty easily, and they're dirt cheap so you don't need to worry about using a bunch:


    The example I will show involves removing paint from one of Masterpiece Skywarp's tailfins (not painted by me):


    You will want to soak an end of your Q-tip in the brush cleaner pretty well. Then, just start swirling it around in a small area and work your way outward. Do not try to do too much at once or you will end up with a giant mess. Also, test small areas at first to see how the solution reacts with the type of paint you are trying to remove. Not all paints will react the same, but so far I have yet to find a paint this doesn't take off. Yes, it will even remove stock paint jobs with ease:


    After you swirl it around a bit you should start to notice the plastic beginning to show underneath. Once you are down to the plastic, wipe it off with a paper towel or rag, and then you will want to rub the part vigorously to make sure you get all of the solution off. You may want to use a wet rag. It should end up like this:


    Then just keep working outward from there. Here is a pic of the two tailfins I have, one has been completely cleaned off while the other is still covered in paint:


    Notice the paint left in the panel lines. I usually just use a small pick tool to scrape that out. But all-in-all, I think this stuff does an excellent job in removing unwanted paint from plastic. I started using it last summer, and so far none of the parts I cleaned are showing signs of degradation because of the solution. Again, start small and get a feel for how it reacts to your particular part. I hope this is helpful to at least some people. Thanks for looking!

    I forgot to mention earlier, but if you use too much and don't wipe it off right away, it leaves a sort of residue on the plastic that can be hard to clean off. I'm not sure I can [soak parts] with this stuff. This works for me now, but I'm always looking for other, better solutions.

    I've tried to use different grades of rubbing alcohol, but I feel like they just don't work as well as I would have liked. I sort of came about this by accident, and it works well for me, so I thought I'd share.

    * * * * * *

    (TFW2005.COM members JackKnife and HokieKen both have a few things to add to this discussion. You will find their contributions below. ~Superquad7):

    JackKnife: "I found the MSDS for this":

    "I would be careful with Crown Brush Cleaner, especially around styrene."​

    HokieKen has some things to add in answering a few concerns here:

    "Denatured is a more effective solvent for acrylic paints (haven't tried it on enamels) in my experience. I'm guessing you've tried Isopropyl ("rubbing" is a label that sometimes gets stuck on both types). Isopropyl and Denatured have different chemical compounds and have different additives to make them undrinkable. The additives in Denatured alcohol are geared so that it can be used as a fuel, the additives in Isopropyl are intended to make it safe for topical use as an antiseptic.

    Think that's confusing? Try Googling it and read that mess!

    If the brush cleaner works, then that's all that matters. But, if you haven't tried denatured, it's dirt cheap and all I do is soak the parts - very little scrubbing required. Like I said though, this applies to acrylics, I can't speak to how it works on enamels."

    "Yep, I've even forgotten parts and left them soaking overnight with no problems at all. I only soak the hard ABS type plastic though. I'm sure it would have bad effects on the soft rubbery stuff and I've heard that it discolors/crazes the clear plastics so I've never soaked those either. I do use it to clean (dip, scrub and wash off) clear plastics that have paint apps but haven't ever soaked them in it.

    I've never had any residue left on parts at all. In fact, Denatured Alcohol is used in industry to clean packing oils from precision surfaces like tapered shank chucks in drill presses. I always give the parts a bath in warm water and dish soap after stripping anyway though just to be on the safe side."​

    (Many thanks to everyone here that contributed! ~Superquad7)

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