How to Strip Paint Off a Plastic Model Kit


Plastic model kits may fall apart or paint may peel as years pass, but that does not mean they are trash. With care, patience and time, models can be disassembled, stripped down and restored to their former glory. Hobbyists can find many suggestions for disassembling and stripping down a model. One method is easy enough for determined amateurs and requires only inexpensive, commonly available tools.

Things You'll Need

  • Gallon jug of Castrol’s Super Clean or comparable degreaser
  • Plastic container large enough to submerge model parts
  • Toothbrush
  • Rubber gloves
  • Hobby knife
  • Dish soap
  • Separate model pieces that are already loose. If necessary, use a hobby knife to carefully work off the pieces.

  • Pour the degreaser into the plastic container. Carefully submerge the model and separated parts in the degreaser and allow them to soak about an hour.

  • Remove the model parts from the degreaser and scrub off the paint with a toothbrush. Use warm water to help remove paint while scrubbing, and wear rubber gloves as you perform this task. Continue until the paint is removed or scrubbing ceases to be effective. The degreaser soak should loosen the model’s joints and allow additional careful disassembly with a hobby knife.

  • Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 if necessary to remove more paint and further disassemble the kit.

  • Pick or scrape off paint flecks with a hobby knife.

  • Wash the model parts with dish soap and warm water. Allow them to dry thoroughly before reassembling and repainting.

Tips & Warnings

  • It is not necessary to disassemble the entire model to restore it. Older plastic can be brittle, so do not aggressively force apart reluctant connections.
  • Particularly stubborn paint may not be removable. Degreasers will generally remove enough to make it possible to repaint the model without visible flaws from older paint that could not be removed.
  • Castrol’s Super Clean and other degreasers are widely available in auto-parts, hardware and retail stores. If Super Clean is not available, Purple Power or Greased Lighting are two common alternatives.
  • Degreasers can generally be reused for stripping the paint off multiple models.
  • Always wear rubber gloves and eye protection.
  • Children should be closely supervised.
  • Do not use metal containers for soaking. Degreasers can eat through them.
  • Make sure to dispose of or store chemicals according to instructions on the packaging.

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