Remove paint from metal

A lot of people know you can remove paint from metal with oven cleaner. What you may not know is that there’s a cheaper way that works just as well.

The trick is to put the metal object in a plastic bag or container, then spray oven cleaner in it. Let it sit for a few hours, and when you come back, you’ll see bubbling paint.

But you can also use purple cleaner. Super Clean works well. Most people use it to clean oil drips and spills off garage floors. But it shares one of the same active ingredients as oven cleaner. A gallon of it costs about $12, compared to 16 ounces of oven cleaner for $3.

I’ve removed every type of paint with it. It works really well on water-based paints but I’ve removed enamels and other tough paints with it. Spray paint is easier to remove than factory applied paint, but you can remove factory applied paint too.

If you’re removing water-based paints, there’s a cheaper option. You can soak the object in plain old ammonia. The fumes are harsher, but a gallon of ammonia only costs a couple of dollars.

No matter what cleaner you use for this, wear rubber gloves when you handle the metal. The chemicals are really bad for your skin. Just pick up the piece, rinse it thoroughly with water, then let it dry. Then it’s ready for you to prime and paint.

If you only have a small project and you already have oven cleaner on hand, there’s no harm in using it. But if you have a large project that’s going to take more than a can of oven cleaner, or you anticipate doing more than one project, try one of the purple cleaners. It will save you a lot of money. And it works on plastic too.

Once you remove the paint, if you want to repaint it, check out my spray painting tips.

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