How to Remove Paint From an Outlet

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Painting a room as a refresher or change of color is a quick way to update the look of a home. Forgetting to tape off the electrical outlets leads to having a layer of latex paint covering the plate and plugs. Any do-it-yourself homeowner will be able to remove the paint as long as electrical safety comes first. Always make sure to disconnect the electricity to the outlet before attempting to remove the latex paint.

Things You'll Need

  • Gloves
  • Screwdriver
  • Turpentine
  • Utility knife
  • Small hammer
  • Soft cloth
  • Liquid detergent
  • Sponge
  • Bucket
  • Rags
  • Wooden toothpicks
  • Shut off the electricity to the outlet at the main breaker box. Make sure everyone in the home is aware that the electricity needs to remain off during the duration of the project.

  • Remove the electrical outlet plate using a screwdriver. Turn the screws in a counterclockwise direction to remove. Tap the end of the screwdriver with a small hammer if the paint has covered them and stuck them to the surface of the plate. Carefully run the blade of a utility knife along the edge of the plate if it is stuck to the wall due to the new paint. The freshly painted wall will scratch easily, so place a cloth against the wall as you do this.

  • Wipe the plate down with turpentine. Once the latex paint comes off, soak the plate in a mixture of ¼ cup of liquid detergent in a bucket of water. Rinse with clear water and set them aside to dry.

  • Use a rag soaked with turpentine to wipe the electrical plugs. For paint covering the plugholes, carefully open the holes using a wooden toothpick. Do not stick the toothpick into the holes; simply pick at the layer of paint covering the plugs. Wipe again with the rag and turpentine. Wring the sponge and scrub the plug surface with the soap and water mixture. Do not allow the liquid into the plugholes. Wipe with a damp rag and allow 30 minutes to completely dry. Reattach the plug cover plate using the screws and screwdriver. Turn the electricity back on at the breaker box.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is safer to remove the outlet cover plates and tape the outlet plugs rather than remove paint after the job. Read more about painting safely at startrightstarthere.com. (See Resource.)
  • Make absolutely sure that the electricity is off to the outlet you want to remove paint from.
  • Keep the area well ventilated to avoid fumes from the turpentine.
  • Wear gloves to avoid contact with the skin.
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