Last Updated: September 24, 2020
The great thing about spray paint is that it’s easy enough for anyone to use. The bad thing about it is that it’s also easy for anyone – including people with lots of experience – to screw it up. We’re not just talking about uneven coats or globbing that leads to runs. We’re talking about oversprays that create a mess on something you didn’t intend to spray. Sometimes you can avoid this by using a dropcloth or a sheet of cardboard. Sometimes you just have to clean up the mess, for example, if you’re repainting a window frame and you sprayed beyond where you have it taped off.
What do you do if that mess is on glass? We’ve got some tips.
Ideally, you’d get to the paint before it dries completely. It’ll be a lot faster to clean up and require a whole lot less effort. The fastest way is to use a clean rag and warm, soapy water. Act like you’re doing precision work so you don’t accidentally smear the paint on whatever you’re adding color to. Just wipe it away, and do it quickly, because spray paint sets fast.
Given how fast spray paint dries, the odds are pretty good it’ll be dried before you notice that you’ve made the mess. In that case, your best path is scraping it up with a razor blade or a kitchen scouring pad. Whichever you use, make sure it’s brand new.
The first step is cleaning the glass with warm soapy water. You’re not doing this to get the paint off, but to make sure that the only thing your razor or scouring pad interacts with is a clean, smooth surface. You’re also doing this because water on the glass helps protect it from scratches from either method. Depending on which tool you’re using, there are two different techniques to use.
Place the razor at a 45-degree angle and push up in a consistent direction, using a consistent stroke with consistent pressure. Don’t push so hard that you think you might break the glass. Just hold it firmly enough to the glass so that it can chip up the droplets of dried paint.
If you use a scouring pad, you can get the same kind of cleaning from using smooth, consistent circular strokes. As with the razor, don’t feel like you need to power the paint off. Remember, a scouring pad is designed to take caked-on grease off a baking sheet. A little bit of spray paint will pose very little challenge.
While the above methods are the easiest ways to get spray paint off glass, you might just feel the urge to use some kind of chemical solvent like fingernail polish remover or paint thinner. You can use these and daub the paint off with a solvent-soaked rag. Just remember that it’s possible to get the thinner on the thing you actually wanted to paint.
The best way to easily remove spray paint from glass is to not spray paint the glass. Make sure that it’s properly blocked off from where you’re painting. This might sound obvious, but doing the obvious now will spare you a ton of headaches in the future.
If you get spray paint on glass you need clean, get to it quickly and wipe it up with soap and water and a clean rag. There’s a good chance it will have set before you can get to it, however. In that case, gently scraping it away with a razor or a kitchen scouring pad is the easiest way to get it off. In a pinch, you can use nail polish remover and other solvents, but those create a mess to clean up a mess.
Image credit: Hammersfan, Wikipedia
David Janus is the founder and CEO of Paint Sprayer Magazine. He has over two decades of experience in the spray paint industry and still enjoys writing about new products and technologies.
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