Removing paint from miniatures - Miniature hobby guideRemoving paint from miniatures - Miniature hobby guide

Article updated: 2020.03.08

Stripping paint off miniatures is useful when you want to remove a previous paintjob from your miniature. 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. I've collected my thought on removing paint from miniatures.

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Before you start to stripping paint from your whole army, always test the method. Soak a part of sprue or a single miniature in the stripping agent, 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 when you are removing paint.

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. If it removes the paint, it can be harmful. When you brush the miniature to strip paint, use safety googles as the stripping fluid sprays easily around.

Types of paint to strip off

Acrylic paints

Polyurethane paints

Oil-based paints

If you have painted your own miniature, you'll probably know what kind of paint you have used. Otherwise, if it's was painted before 1980s, it's a high chance that it was painted with oil-based paints. Later on acrylic paint started to get more and more popular. If the miniature itself was produced after 2000, I'd first assume that it's painted with acrylics, and try to remove paint according to that.

Materials of the model you need paint removed

Metal: This is the least delicate material.

Plastic: Take care not to use stripping agents that solve plastic.

Resin: Be very careful, as resin can be very delicate.

Stripping fluids for paint removal

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 when you strip paint with alkaline cleaners. 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: These are useful substitutes if you don't have anything better.

  • Ajax Floral Fiesta: Tried on GW hard plastic and acrylic paint, to good results.
  • Dettol Antiseptic Liquid: Make sure you don't use water during the process (for example, to wash the minis in the end), as that will turn the paint into a slime. If that happens, you can use another bath of Dettol, just make sure that you wash the minis with Dettol.
  • Simple Green
  • LA's Totally Awesome Cleaner
  • Purple Power
  • Super Clean

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

  • 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.

  • Meths – Purple Methylated Spirits

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

Nail polish remover: If your model is made of plastic, always read the contents before you start to strip paint. Those nail polish removers 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 when you are removing paint from them. 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. It can damage plastic.

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Buying the product - Stripping agents for removing paint

Nail polish removerimage © Super Nail

Nail polish remover

 

Isopropyl alcoholimage © Swan

Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol)

 

Dettol-Antiseptic Liquidimage © Dettol

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

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Paint stripping experiences with different materials

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

Material: Metal

  • Use acetone or acetone-based nail-polish remover to remove paint. 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 to strip paint, 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

You can remove paint from just parts of the miniature, although it's easier to strip off the whole mini at once.

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 strip the paint off. Repeat that until the paint comes off the model. Don't use very strong stripping fluids when you are removing paint from the miniature, otherwise it can damage the paint you wish to retain.

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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Using ultrasonic cleaner to remove paint

An ultrasonic cleaner gets the paint stripping job done faster. It can remove paint easier. It also costs extra.

Ultrasonic cleanerimage © Magnasonic

Ultrasonic cleaner

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Stripping paint from miniatures - Resources

Removing paint from models

Atom Smasher (from Tabletop Minions): The Pitfalls of Stripping: Comparison video about different kinds of stripping methods, including different stripping agents and also an ultrasonic cleaner.

Bitzbox: How to Strip Paint from Miniatures with Household Products: Comparison video about removing paint from plastic, metal and resin miniatures, using cleaning agents, and Biostrip 20.

Doctor Faust's Painting Clinic: The Basics: How to Remove Paint from Miniatures: Tutorial video on how to strip paint off miniatures.

FauxHammer: Strip Paint off Miniatures Cheap and Easy – A How-To Guide: Tutorial article about stripping paint from various materials using isopropyl alcohol. Very thorough and comprehensive guide.÷

How-To-Paint-Miniatures.com: How To Remove Old Paint from Miniatures: Tutorial article on how to strip paint off miniatures, using Pine-Sol.

Inkvizitor.hu: Removing paint (in Hungarian)(on archive.org): A forum about removing paint from models 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 on stripping paint in Hungarian.

Google Translate English version

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

Rob Baer (for Spikey Bits): Strip Paint Off Miniatures in Less Than a Minute!: Tutorial video on removing paint from models with Testors Paint & Decal Remover.

the video on YouTube

Recycled 40k: stripping paint from warhammer figures with household chemicals- which works best?: Comparison video on removing paint from plastic models with methylated spirits, Mr. Muscle kitchen cleaner, and Cillit Bang.

Metal miniatures with thinner

Lukes Aps - Geek Gaming Scenics: How To Strip Metal Miniatures In Seconds: Tutorial video on removing paint from metal models with thinner.

Plastic miniatures

Reddit: Can you remove paint from plastic minis without damaging the mini?: Forum about removing paint from plastic miniatures.

Plastic miniatures with Biostrip 20

Bitzbox: How to Strip Paint from Miniatures with Household Products: Comparison video about removing paint from plastic, metal and resin miniatures, using cleaning agents, and Biostrip 20.

RobPaintsModels: How to Remove Paint From Plastic Models Fast!: Tutorial video about removing paint from plastic miniatures with Biostrip 20.

Xenus Minis: How to Safely Strip Plastic Miniatures - Build & Paint - Episode 12: Tutorial video about removing paint from plastic miniatures with Biostrip 20.

Plastic miniatures with alcohol

Adrien Leloup: Best way to remove paint from plastic figure: Video showing the removal of paint from a plastic miniature with isopropyl alcohol.

FauxHammer: Strip Paint off Miniatures Cheap and Easy – A How-To Guide: Tutorial article about stripping paint from various materials using isopropyl alcohol. Very thorough and comprehensive guide.÷

Recycled 40k: Stripping paint from a vintage 90's warhammer 40k Rhino: Video showing the removal of paint from a plastic model with methylated spirits.

Sonic Sledgehammer Studio: Quick Tips - Stripping Miniatures: Tutorial video on removing paint from plastic models with denatured alcohol.

Removing chrome paint from polystyrene models

David Damek (from PLASMO - plastic models): How to remove chrome color from plastic sprue. Odstranění chromu (in Czech, with English subtitles): Tutorial video, using Savo WC cleaner. It's in Czech, but it has English subtitles.

WheelsNThangs: How to Remove Chrome from Plastic in Minutes!: Tutorial video, using Super Clean degreaser.

Using acetone to remove paint from metal miniatures

DakkaDakka forum: Pure Acetone & Metal minis?: Forum topic on removing paint from metal miniature figures with pure acetone.

Stripping off acrylic paint from plastic minis

Goobertown Hobbies: Paint Stripping for Plastic Minis? Head-to-Head Testing of Six Cleaning Solvents!: Comparison video about different kinds of stripping methods.

Lukes APS - Geek Gaming Scenics: 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 on how to strip paint from models.

Jamboker: How to strip miniatures with Dettol: Tutorial video about stripping acrylic paint from a plastic miniature with Dettol.

Luetin09: How to Strip Paint from Miniatures | Warhammer 40,000: Tutorial video about stripping paint from metal mini with Dettol.

Ultrasonic cleaner to remove paint

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.

Atom Smasher (from Tabletop Minions): The Pitfalls of Stripping: Comparison video about different kinds of stripping methods, including different stripping agents and also an ultrasonic cleaner.

Commissar Gamza: Stripping Miniatures with the UltraSonic Cleaner!: Comparison video about different kinds of model materials in an ultrasonic cleaner, using Super Clean degreaser.

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Do you know further methods for stripping paint from miniatures? Do you have questions about how to remove paint from your models? Tell us in the comments!

 

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