Rubbing alcohol is an incredibly useful tool that’s perfect for removing stains and other surface layers. Whether as a first option or a backup, rubbing alcohol is kept in homes and workshops all over the world because of its use as a removal agent.
With that information, it’s no surprise that rubbing alcohol will remove water-based paint. The effectiveness of rubbing alcohol will depend on the paint type and the surface beneath, as alcohol is a harsh removal agent that could harm sensitive surfaces.
With paints, in particular, rubbing alcohol works by dissolving the polymer binding that holds the paint together. By destroying the polymer, the structural integrity of the paint is lost and so it loses its form. To the naked eye, this is where the paint is no longer dry and can be washed away quite easily.
A common life hack for rubbing alcohol is mixing it with lemon juice or other acidic liquids to improve its power. While this is great for paint that just refuses to budge, it won’t be useful if the surface beneath the paint is sensitive and requires a weaker solution. Fortunately, it’s possible to dilute rubbing alcohol to make it easier to work with.
Does Rubbing Alcohol Remove Paint From Wood?
Wood is one of the more sensitive materials that can be painted over. Unlike metal or stonework, wood is subject to more environmental concerns and some types of wood may be too weak for alcohol. Fortunately for you, this is incorrect.
Rubbing alcohol is one of the most versatile cleaning substances you can use, and it’ll work on wood.
Latex-based paint can be removed pretty easily with rubbing alcohol. All you need is the alcohol, a rag, and enough time to go over the painted object and wipe away all its painted decorations.
Will Rubbing Alcohol Damage Car Paint?
When using a powerful substance like alcohol, there’s always a concern that you damage the surface that’s beneath it. With how different a car paint job is from most other coats of paint, it’s a valid concern that alcohol could damage it.
All cars have a thin, unseen layer on their paint that protects the paint job from sunlight or scratches from tiny flecks of dust or debris.
Fortunately, rubbing alcohol can be used on car paint as long as it has been diluted correctly. Alcohol is one of the best cleaning agents out there for a car when used in moderation. It destroys and removes grease, soot, wax, and oil, all of which build up on the surface of cars over time.
It’s also used during other aesthetic modifications for cars, like tints or vehicle wraps. It’s most often used to clean the rims of cars, as well as the bumpers and other chrome parts that need to shine.
Rubbing alcohol should only be used on your car when it’s diluted. It needs to be so that the clearcoat can remain intact. You’d need to keep alcohol on the surface for a while for there to be any noticeable effect but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Alcohol dissolves pretty fast, so it’s unlikely you’ll cause any damage but it’s guaranteed to be safe if you dilute it to between 10% and 15%.
Will Rubbing Alcohol Remove Oil-Based Paint?
Alcohol isn’t useful in removing oil-based paint. Alcohol and oil-based paint usually meet during an alcohol test. An alcohol test is where a homeowner doesn’t know if their paint is water-based/latex or oil-based. To discover which one they have, they go through the following process:
- Pour rubbing alcohol into a container and dip a rag or a cotton swab into the solution.
- In an area that won’t be noticed, wipe the alcohol onto the surface in back and forth motions.
- After a few moments, one of two things will happen. You will either see the paint color rubbing off onto the cloth or swab, along with the white layer of bottom coat beneath, or absolutely nothing will happen.
- If the paint came off, that’s latex paint that can be removed using alcohol since it’s water-based. If the paint did not come off, you know you have oil-based paint and that alcohol doesn’t put a dent in it.
The fact this process exists and is used to diagnose paint types, hinges on rubbing alcohol not affecting oil-based paint. There are dedicated paint strippers for oil-based paint. It’s known for its hardiness so specially formulated chemicals are required.
Will Rubbing Alcohol Remove Paint From Glass?
Whether it’s practical glass or a shining mirror, rubbing alcohol works like a charm for paint removal. No matter how old the paint is, rubbing alcohol should perform well when matched up against accidental stains that need removing.
It’s as simple as pouring rubbing alcohol into a container and wetting an implement with it. This can be a cotton swab, a toothbrush, whatever you think is best for the surface you’re treating. You’ll likely want to take care with a mirror over a practical glass, which doesn’t have the same standards for looking well.
If the paint isn’t completely gone after being treated with rubbing alcohol, it’ll at least be weakened and easily wiped away with traditional cleaning methods. This is a good idea anyway as rubbing alcohol on your mirror is going to leave a few marks from the cloth and alcohol condensation. Clean it using the same process you’d typically use so your mirror is properly cleaned.
By now, there shouldn’t be anything left. If there is, these are stubborn pieces still attached to the glass. They should still be weakened, making removing the paint easier if you use something to scrape it off.
Needless to say, you want to be careful when doing this. At best, you can put a crack in the glass or knock a chip out. At worst, a wrongly placed swipe of a brush or scraper could shatter and destroy the object or mirror and potentially cause harm to you.