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How to Remove Paint From a Bathtub

Paint spills can be a huge problem. And even if you’re the most careful painter, drips, and splashes will happen when you remodel or repaint your bathroom.

This is why using plastic tarps to cover the floor, walls, and everything in the surrounding area is crucial before doing a paint job.

But what do you do if that dreadful paint splash or drip lands on your pristine bathtub?

Don’t worry. Chances are, you already have everything you need to remove paint from a bathtub.

Let’s take a look at how to safely remove paint from a bathtub, whether it’s acrylic, porcelain, or fiberglass.

dripping paint bathtub

What Is the Best Method to Remove Paint from Bathtubs?

As a rule, you should remove paint stains and drips from your bathtub as soon as you notice them. Fresh paint is always easier to remove than dry paint that has already set onto a surface.

There are several ways to remove paint from your tub, depending on what material your tub is made of.

For example, plastic-based materials like acrylic are generally less durable than porcelain. This means that you must avoid using strong chemicals and solvents, or you may risk damaging the tub’s protective coating.

So, while you can use a paint stripper to remove paint from a porcelain tub, you can’t use the same method to remove paint from an acrylic or fiberglass tub.

How to Remove Paint from Acrylic Bathtubs

Acrylic tubs are great because they are highly resistant to dirt and grime. However, they scratch easily, so you have to be careful when cleaning paint off acrylic surfaces. It’s also not appropriate to use harsh cleaning materials or paint removal products as they can damage the material.

You’re better off using natural cleaning items you can find in the kitchen, like vinegar or baking soda. But when the paint is still fresh on your acrylic tub, flushing it with water is often all that is required.

Method 1. Remove Fresh Paint with Soapy Water

Fresh paint on an acrylic surface shouldn’t be too tricky to get rid of.

Step 1. Run hot water over that paint stain. Make sure the runoff flows directly to the drain to avoid staining other parts of the tub. If there is a lot of paint on the bathtub, wipe most of it using a paper towel first, then rinse the tub with hot water. Hot water for this method is non-negotiable. Never use cold water when rinsing paint off the acrylic tub, as it will only cause the stain and dirt to set into the tub’s surface quicker.

Step 2. Soak the stained spot with laundry detergent. A liquid detergent will work best for this method as it does not contain abrasive chemicals that could be in powdered laundry soaps. Fill the tub with water and pour in a liberal amount of detergent, creating a concentrated sudsy solution. You’ll need to soak the stain for a few hours or overnight, depending on whether the stain has set in on the surface and dried.

Step 3. Scrub the paint stain away. Use a soft sponge or washcloth to rub the stain vigorously. Softer scrubbing materials are preferred as abrasives like stiff-bristled brushes or steel wool can cause permanent scratches and damage to the acrylic surface.

Method 2. Remove Stubborn Paint Stains with Vinegar and Baking Soda

If there are still paint stains on your acrylic tub even after completing the first method, you can get rid of them by spot treating the stain with baking soda and vinegar.

Step 1. Dampen the stain with hot water. The key is to keep the stained area moist to prevent the paint from drying onto the surface.

Step 2. Pour baking soda over the stained surface. Once the stain is damp enough, sprinkle an ample amount of baking soda to coat the surface. This is why it was necessary to wet the area beforehand so the baking soda could stick onto the surface. Then, leave the baking soda paste to sit on the stain for five to ten minutes.

Step 3. Spray vinegar on the baking soda. Spray the partially dried baking soda with vinegar to activate it. They will create a fizz or a frothy layer on the tub that will eat away any discoloration from the paint. Leave it for a couple more minutes until the fizzing stops, then wipe away the solution. Don’t be afraid to repeat the entire process until you don’t see any stains anymore, then rinse the area with water. All paint stains should be removed.

How to Remove Paint from Porcelain Bathtubs

Unlike acrylic, porcelain is more resistant to scratches, so you can use most cleaners and solvents on a porcelain tub. It’s also safe to use brushes and scrapers in removing paint from a porcelain bathtub.

But before you start using any cleaner or liquid to take off paint splatters on porcelain, find out what kind of paint you’re dealing with first. There is a simple test that will help you find out whether it’s water or oil-based paint.

Step 1. Moisten cotton or a clean rug with denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol.

Step 2. Rub the cotton on the paint stain vigorously for a few seconds.

Step 3. Check if the paint color has rubbed off onto the cotton. If it did, it’s water-based paint. But if the cotton swab remained clean after vigorously rubbing it onto the paint stain, it’s an oil-based paint.

Method 1. Scrape the Paint Off

Since porcelain is resistant to scratching, you can sometimes take off hardened paint from a porcelain tub by scraping it off. The paint should come off easily with a plastic putty knife.

Method 2. Remove Paint with a Solvent

If you’re removing water-based paint from a porcelain tub, continue rubbing the tub with an alcohol-soaked cotton swab or switch to a rag if you’re dealing with many paint stains. It should come off after some thorough rubbing.

Other products can also help get water-based paint off porcelain, such as:

  • Acetone
  • Lacquer thinner

But make sure to keep the bathroom well-ventilated and wear a mask when handling these liquids.

Method 3. Remove Paint Using a Paint Stripper

If you’re removing oil-based paint from a porcelain tub, use a paint stripper. It’s effective in getting rid of both water and oil-based paint without damaging the porcelain.

Simply spread it over the paint using a paintbrush, let it sit for ten minutes, and you’ll start to notice the paint blistering. You can scrape it off afterward, and the paint will come off along with the paint stripper. But if the paint doesn’t start blistering after ten minutes, this means you need to apply more paint stripper.

Once you’ve gotten rid of all paint stains from the tub, rinse it with clean water to remove all the residue.

How to Remove Paint Off of Fiberglass Bathtubs

Removing fresh paint from a fiberglass tub is pretty easy. Start by running some warm or hot water over the troubled area, and it should come right off. But if the paint has already dried, you may need to do some scraping.

Use a plastic paint scraper instead of a metal one to avoid unnecessary scratches to the surface. Then rinse the stained spot with soapy water. If there are remaining minor stains, rub them with a paste made of baking soda, start scrubbing using a damp sponge, then rinse and repeat if necessary until it’s spotless.

Removing Paint From Bathtub Is Possible

Paint spills on your bathtub look like an ugly mess, but it doesn’t have to be a difficult job to turn your stained tub into its clean, pristine condition once again.

Whether you have a tub made of acrylic, porcelain, or fiberglass, there’s a quick and effective way to remove paint from the bathtub without scratching or damaging the surface.

When cleaning paint stains off any bathtub material, it’s always smart to start with the least intrusive method, like running hot water over the stained area. In many cases, when the paint is relatively fresh, it will come right off.

Mandy Phillips

As a frequent contributor to top US magazines and publications in the home improvement niche, Mandy has been known for sharing her expertise on how to clean, organize, and decorate bathrooms.

Additionally, Mandy has immense experience offering lifestyle tips and tricks to her readers.

About Loo Academy

At Loo Academy, our mission is to offer trusted advice for everything related to bathrooms (design ideas, plumbing advice, showering & bathing tips, remodeling guides, and more) — a place where we all spend a great deal of time.

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