How to Use Acetone to Remove Paint

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves

  • Safety Glasses

  • Metal or glass containers

  • Acetone

  • Newspaper

  • Clean rags

  • Soap

  • Water

Effectively clean your brushes after creating a work of art.
Image Credit: Kaiha/iStock/Getty Images

Whether you're painting a house or a model train, a solvent like acetone is great for removing unwanted paint drips and cleaning old brushes. This solvent works very well at removing oil-based paints, enamels and acrylic paint. It can also be reused several times when stored properly. Acetone works equally well on dried and fresh paint. Often, it is the only solvent available to dissolve and remove these types of dried paints.

Cleaning Paint From a Brush

Step 1

Remove as much paint as possible with regular soap and water. If the paint has already dried, large flecks may not be possible to remove with soap.

Step 2

Put on the protective gloves and safety glasses. This helps keep the acetone off skin and out of the eyes.

Step 3

Pour the acetone into a metal or glass container. Pour enough into the container that you can easily dip paint-covered bristles into it, but not so much that it reaches the handle.

Step 4

Scrub the bristles against the bottom of the container or between gloved fingers. If a large amount of paint is hardened on the bristles, leave the brush in the paint for a couple of hours.

Step 5

Remove as much softened paint as possible. Dry the brush on old newspaper to absorb remaining acetone.

Step 6

Wash the brush with soapy water again. Squeeze the water out of the bristles by hand. Shape the brush and set down to dry.

Removing Paint Drips with Acetone

Step 1

Acetone can restore the floor to its original shine.
Image Credit: christingasner/iStock/Getty Images

Scrape up as much of the paint as possible with a paint scraper. Thick layers of paint may be easier to remove with the scraper.

Step 2

Put on a pair of protective gloves and safety glasses.

Step 3

Pour a small amount of acetone onto a clean rag. You may also pour a small amount of acetone onto dried paint. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to soften the paint drip.

Step 4

Rub the paint with the acetone-soaked rag. Within a few minutes, the paint will dissolve. You may need to switch to clean sections of the rag as more paint comes off onto the fabric.

Step 5

Wash the area with clean soap and water to remove acetone residue.


Do not store acetone in a plastic container. It can melt plastic over time.

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