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Article updated: 2018.08.09

Sometimes you wish to change the paint scheme of the miniature or just get rid of the previous layers of paint. There are several ways to strip paint from your miniatures.

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Before you start to stripping paint from your whole army, always test the method on a part of sprue or a single miniature, to see if there are side-effects on the miniature itself, especially if you intend to strip plastic minis.

The same stripping agent might affect different paints differently. If your usual method doesn't work on a painted miniature, try other methods until you find one that works. If you know what kind of paint that was, take a note what method worked for you and use that next time.

Stripping minis is usually done by putting the miniature into some kind of stripping fluid, then after a while brushing the paint away with a toothbrush (or any other brush with plastic bristles). If it still gets on you, wash the affected area with water, and considering the seriousness of the situation you might also need medical attention.

While working with the miniature, use protective gloves (chemical resistant gloves) to avoid damage to your hands. When you brush the miniature, use safety googles as the stripping fluid sprays easily around.

Stripping fluids

There are several agents that can be used for removing paint from your miniatures.

Acetone: It's an organic solvent that dissolves plastic. Good to remove paint and glue from metal miniatures. The fumes are toxic and acetone is highly flammable. Weak acetone (for example acetone-based nail polish remover) allows you to remove plastic bases from the miniatures before you put the model into the stripping agent.

Acrylic Paint Remover: It removes acrylic paint. Supposedly it wouldn't harm plastic or resin models.

  • Amazing Art Acrylic Paint Remover

Alkaline based drain cleaner: They are strong bases. Most containt sodium hydroxide (NaOH). It can dissolve even human hair, so always use protective gloves and googles. The fumes are also irritants.

  • Szi-ti drain cleaner

Brake fluid: It contains toxic glycols, so don't consume it. DOT5 silicone-based break fluids were successfully used by people to remove paint from polystyrene miniatures.

Cleaning agents

  • Ajax Floral Fiesta: Tried on GW hard plastic and acrylic paint, to good results.
  • Dettol Antiseptic Liquid
  • Simple Green
  • LA's Totally Awesome Cleaner
  • Purple Power
  • Super Clean

Degreasing agent: A very strong base. Always use chemical resistant gloves.

  • Tesco Cold Degreaser

Denatured alcohol: It's an alcohol with poisonous additives. It can contain isopropyl alcohol or acetone to help remove the paint. Check the product info to see how effective will it be on paints.

Isopropyl alcohol: It is skin irritant, so use protective gloves. Flammable, so keep aways from heat and fire.

Nail polish remover: Take care of the contents. Those that contain acetone could damage plastic minis.

  • Florin Nail Polish Remover
  • Floren Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover with acetone: It is used to remove nail polish from natural nails. It's not suited for plastic, but ideal for metal miniatures.

Nail polish remover without acetone: It's tricky, because even acetone-free nail polish removers might damage models. Unless it is listed that the agent is lanolin, don't use it on plastic or resin models.

  • Coop Acetone-free Nail Polish Remover: It's probably acetone-free.

Nail polish remover with lanolin: It is used to remove polish from artificial nails. It's good for plastic miniatures.

Nitro thinner: It's good for stripping metal or resin miniatures.

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Buying the products - Stripping agents

Nail polish removerimage © Super Nail

Nail polish remover

 

Isopropyl alcoholimage © Swan

Isopropyl alcohol

 

Dettol-Antiseptic Liquidimage © Dettol

Cleaning agent
Dettol Antiseptic Liquid, Simple Green, LA's Totally Awesome Cleaner, Purple Power, Super Clean

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I didn't try most of the methods yet, I just collected others' recommendations, so take care while trying to strip your models using these ideas.

Material: Metal

  • Use acetone or acetone-based nail-polish remover. You can bath the miniature in acetone as long as you want.
  • Use nitro thinner. You can bath the miniature in acetone as long as you want.

Material: Games Workshop hard plastic (polystyrene)

  • Bath the model in isopropyl alcohol for 5 minutes, then scrub it.
  • DOT5 silicone-based brake fluid was used and it didn't damage the models.
  • Ajax Floral Fiesta removes acrylic paint without damaging the models.

Material: Resin

  • Some stripping agents make resin spongy or rubbery.

Material: Forge World resin

  • Bath the mini in Dettol for 20 minutes, then scrub it, and then wash it. If paint remains, repeat this.
  • Bath the mini in isopropyl alcohol for 5 minutes, then scrub it. If you leave it for longer than 5 minutes, thin parts may become bendy.

Stripping agent: Ajax Floral Fiesta

  • Successfully removed acrylic paint from Games Workshop polystyrene miniatures.

Stripping agent: Simple Green

  • It takes a while (even days) to remove paint, but it doesn't damage any miniature.
  • It doesn't solve glue.

Stripping agent: LA's Totally Awesome Cleaner

  • It can help to remove superglue from models.

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Stripping parts of a miniature

Use a paintbrush / q-tip / cotton bud, dip it into the stripping fluid, and gently brush the area you wish to clean. After a few minutes, use a toothpick to get the paint off. Repeat until it comes off.

You can use masking tape or plastic wrap (cling film) to protect those parts of the miniature you don't want to strip.

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Ultrasonic Cleaner

An ultrasonic cleaner gets the job done faster.

Atom Smasher (from Tabletop Minions): What's an Ultrasonic Cleaner Good For?: Overview video explaining the use of ultrasonic cleaners for stripping miniatures and cleaning airbrush.

Ultrasonic cleanerimage © Magnasonic

Ultrasonic cleaner

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Stripping paint - Resources

Inkvizitor.hu: Removing paint (in Hungarian): A forum about removing paint in Hungarian.

Google Translate English version

Marneus & Transferatu (from TMT Manufaktúra): Restoration - or how a shimmering jewel is born out of a tattered impediment (in Hungarian): Tutorial article in Hungarian.

Google Translate English version

ralf137: Warhammer 40K Advanced Techniques part 9- Stripping Paint from Miniatures: Tutorial video.

Doctor Faust's Painting Clinic: The Basics: How to Remove Paint from Miniatures: Tutorial video.

Using acetone to remove paint from metal miniatures

DakkaDakka forum: Pure Acetone & Metal minis?: Forum topic.

Stripping off acrylic paint from plastic minis

Lukes APS: How to strip your plastic miniatures/models fast and cheap (Tips & Talk Ep 7): A tutorial video about using methylated spirits to strip off acrylic paint from plastic minis.

Stripping off acrylic paint with Dettol from plastic and metal minis

red.sight (for Warseer): How to strip plastic and metal figures using cleaning products!: A tutorial article.

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Do you know further methods for stripping paint from miniatures? Tell us in the comments!

 

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