When it comes to any kind of motor maintenance, you can be sure that it will be a messy process. No matter what you’re working on, there’s a pretty good chance that you will end up covered in dirt, oil, or paint.
But paint primer is one thing that you might not have considered. Primer is slightly different from paint. It is used to provide a smooth surface on which to apply paint. This means that primer can often be much thicker and tackier than paint.
So, when you get primer on your hands, how do you get it off? Fortunately, you can usually wash primer off with water.
But, depending on the type of primer you use, water might not quite do the trick. So, before you get scrubbing, make sure to check out all the different methods below.
1. Soap and Water
This should be your go-to. But don’t just run your hands under the faucet as you normally would. Instead, mix up some soap and water in a dish bowl or a pail. Make sure to mix it up properly as you would to wash dishes or run a bath.
Take a sponge or rag and dunk it into the water. Make sure it is completely submerged and covered. Then rub at the primer on your hands.
This is a much better option than just washing your hands as you normally would. That won’t work as well as you might expect. You will simply be rubbing the primer over your hands. This will take a lot longer.
There isn’t a specific kind of soap that you need to use. Hand soap will do well if you have only spilled a small amount on your hands. But, if you have a decent dollop on you, then dish soap will be stronger.
Dish soap is stronger than hand soap and designed to remove tougher substances. This includes burnt and dried-on foods. So it’s going to be much better at removing dried primer.
2. Cooking Oil or Spray
Many of the suggestions in this article include different oils. This is because most car primers are oil based. So, when you rub oil onto the primer, it can loosen the primer.
If you have cooking spray, then this will be the best option. Simply take the bottle and spray the oil onto your skin a few times. Rub the oil into your skin until the primer begins to soften and come off.
If you don’t have cooking oil spray, then bottled oil will also work well. Don’t pour the oil straight from the bottle onto your hands. But take a cloth or some cotton wool pads. Then, pour the oil onto the pads and rub it into the primer on your skin.
If you have only a small amount of primer on your skin, then cooking spray will be enough. But it might not provide you with enough oil if you have quite a large amount of primer on your hands.
If oil itself doesn’t work, then you can mix in other substances that are shown below. This will provide a more abrasive scrub.
No particular oil will be best for removing primer. But it’s best to use something like extra virgin olive oil. This will be the most moisturizing and gentlest on your skin.
Despite its sweet nature, sugar can be surprisingly abrasive. But the grains will need to be quite large. (Confectioners’ sugar will not do the job here). It’s best to use granulated or caster sugar. The size of the grains is important. As you’re essentially using them in the same way you would use grains of sand on sand paper.
Simply sprinkle the sugar over the primer and rub it in. The sugar will break up the primer and cause it to come off.
The sugar can be used by itself. Or you can mix it with cooking oil to make a gentle scrub. The sugar won’t dissolve in the oil and will stick to it instead. This won’t be as messy as the sugar won’t fall off your hand while you rub it in.
This can be used on wet or dry primer. But it will work best on dry primer. The sugar will cause the primer to flake off.
4. Baking Soda
You will have likely seen baking soda suggested as a way to remove stains from material or burnt food from dishes. But it can also be used on skin. This is a good option as baking soda can remove some really tough substances without being too harsh on your hands.
That said, baking soda will dry out your skin. So it’s important to apply lotion afterward.
Baking soda is best if you have spilled a lot of primer on yourself. Or have struggled to remove the primer with gentler options.
Baking soda is traditionally used as a cleaning agent when mixed with water or vinegar. But when it comes to skin, it’s best to mix it with cooking oil. Vegetable oil is a good option. But whatever you have in your kitchen should be okay.
Mix equal parts oil and baking soda together. This should make a paste. Gently rub the paste over your hands and allow it to work on your skin as a scrub. You can use your hands to apply this. Or you can use a cloth.
It might be tempting to use a brush to really scrub at the primer. But be careful with this as it will be very abrasive.
5. Baby Oil
This might be a surprising option, but it’s worth giving it a go. Simply squirt a small amount of baby oil onto the palm of your hand. Then rub and massage it across the areas covered in primer.
After around 30 seconds, try washing the oil off. The baby oil should have dislodged a lot of the primer. If you still feel as though you have primer on your hands, then just apply more oil and try again.
If you don’t feel as though the baby oil is getting deep enough into the primer, take a cloth and rub it in. This should help to dislodge the primer.
If none of the above options have helped, then it might be worth trying something a bit stronger. Acetone is an abrasive chemical that can easily remove layers of paint, primer, and ink.
But don’t worry, this isn’t something you will need to go to a specialist store for. Most nail polish removers contain acetone.
Simply take a bottle of nail polish remover and gently pour some onto a cloth. Then rub the cloth into the primer. Don’t give up too quickly. Acetone can often cause it to smudge before it will come off.
Keep going until you have worked all the way through the primer. Wipe off the primer that has been removed. And then continue on the other sections. Once you have the first small amount off, the rest will be much easier.
7. Salt Scrub
If sugar and baking soda aren’t tough enough, then you can also make a scrub with some salt. Sea salt will be the best option due to the large crystals. But table salt will also work in a pinch.
Again, mix the salt with some cooking oil and rub it into the primer. The salt should break up the primer and detach it from the skin.
As salt crystals are quite small, they might not feel as rough as some other options. But salt is very abrasive and will be able to work through lots of substances. So if it doesn’t work straight away, keep going.
8. Rubbing Alcohol and Water
If acetone isn’t quite strong enough, then you can also try rubbing alcohol. You likely won’t have this lying around your home. So you might have to take a special trip to get it.
Rubbing alcohol will work in a similar way to acetone. But will be slightly stronger. It’s a good idea to dilute the rubbing alcohol with water before applying it to your skin. This will stop it from being too strong and damaging your skin.
Just in case you’re wondering: no, that bottle of vodka in your drinks cabinet won’t work. Any kind of drinkable alcohol won’t be strong enough to work through the primer.
This one might sound a little strange. But bear with us. Mayo is great for removing something like primer due to the presence of fat.
Simply place a dollop on your hands and rub it in. Let it settle for a little while. Then wash it off.
10. Paint Wipes
If none of the options above have worked, it’s time to head out to the store. You should be able to find some paint wipes in your local hardware store. These work as you imagine they would. You simply need to rub them across the primer, and they should start to remove it.
These wipes will work in a similar way to the acetone. It will seem as though they are just smudging the primer around. But eventually they will rub the primer off.
This should really be your last option. Most of the other options on this list will likely already be in your home. So you won’t have to spend any money on an accident. Wipes also aren’t great for the environment. If you can find compostable or biodegradable paint wipes, then it’s a good idea to use those. But that is very unlikely.
- Whichever method you choose, your hands are going to feel dry and sensitive afterward. Make sure to rinse them thoroughly with warm water. Then apply a generous amount of hand lotion. This will stop your skin from drying out and cracking.
- Don’t start off with the harsh chemicals. Pretty much every option on this list will be abrasive on your hands. This is just due to the fact that you’re trying to pull something off your skin. But, it’s best to try and be as gentle as you can. Start off with the gentlest option (baby oil) and work your way toward the most aggressive chemicals and substances.
This will reduce the damage to your skin if you find out that a gentle option works. But, even if you move on to more abrasive options, the gentler option will have done some work. So you won’t need as much of the stronger substances.
- Don’t mix chemicals. A lot of the options on this list will be incredibly damaging if they are used together. It’s really important that you do not simply move on from using baking soda to salt and then to acetone.
If one gentle option isn’t working, and you want to move onto something stronger, make sure to clean your hands. Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water. Then completely dry them.
If you mix abrasive chemicals together and then apply them to your skin, having some primer dried to your hands will seem like nothing.
- Don’t scrub too hard or use a rough brush. When trying to remove primer or paint, it’s easy to just scrub as hard as you can. This is especially true if it’s dry and looks as though it should just peel off.
But just because something is rough, doesn’t mean that it will work on primer. The whole point of paint primer is to provide a smooth surface that paint can sit on. So it isn’t likely to chip easily.
So, whichever method you use, it’s best to gently rub the substance into the primer. Pretty much every option will take a little while to work. Especially if the layer of primer is thick.
- Clean your hands away from your project. This might seem obvious but it’s worth saying. A lot of these chemicals, especially acetone, will ruin your primer and paintwork if even a drop falls on it.
Even if you move out of the way of your project, it’s a good idea to lay down a towel. A lot of these substances can also damage other surfaces around your home. So it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- Use gloves! If you find yourself regularly spilling paint and primer over your hands, then it might be time to invest in some gloves. Gloves might make painting a little more difficult. But this will only be because you will feel a little restricted with them on.
Some of these options, such as oil and soap, are fine for your skin. But many of the other substances will be very abrasive and potentially damaging for your skin. So they should not be used regularly. Once is fine if you have no other options. But they will eventually dry out your skin and cause damage.
- Wash your hands immediately. Don’t wait for the primer to dry. And don’t try to wipe it off with a dry cloth or paper towel. Wiping the wet primer off might seem like the most sensible option. And it will get some of the primer off. But it will mostly just spread it further across your skin.
Once you get wet primer on your skin, run your hands under the faucet straight away. Wash off as much as you can. And don’t forget to use soap. Don’t stop washing until it is clear that no more primer is coming off.
Then, it’s time to move on to tougher options. Your first port of call should always be soap and water. This applies to paint as well.
Overall, the first thing you should do when trying to remove primer is to wash your hands with soap and water.
Rub them together properly and see how much you can get off. Thoroughly dry them. Check your hands over and if there is still primer on them, only then should you move on to abrasive substances.
A lot of the substances on this list can damage your skin. So it’s important to be as careful as possible. Don’t just take the most aggressive option and scrub away at your hands. This will mostly just result in you drying out your skin and becoming frustrated at it not working.