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A Simple Guide to Stripping Paint Off of Miniatures

This is an article that I created a couple of years ago for Librarium Online. It's been very popular there, I think, having been up on the front page for around a year, so I thought I would share it here as well. Without further ado....

So a question I see come up here quite a bit is how to successfully take paint off of a painted model in order to redo it. For me, this was quite an issue, as there are a variety of methods you can find online, and many of them a) use illegal substances, and/or b) use extremely hazardous substances, and/or c) can destroy your models, and/or d) don’t work at all.

When I started trying to strip my models, I originally tried methods, which I found online, that didn’t work and destroyed two of my marines. This did not make me happy. I have also seen brake fluid suggested. While this does work, the substance is also extremely hazardous if it comes into contact with your skin or is inhaled, and I do not recommend its use.

Eventually, I came across the following method, which I will describe with pictures, to successfully remove brake fluid. To preface, I had models which looked like the marine on the left, and I had progressed enough to want them to look more like my newly painted models, of which there is a WIP on the right.

Step 1: Get Yourself some “Simple Green”

When I first heard of this stuff, I had no idea what it was and where you could get it. The fact of the matter is, you can get it at most home improvement stores, such as Home Depot or Lowes, and you can find it in the cleaning section, with all the concentrated cleaning chemicals and cleaning supplies. Heres what it looks like:

The great thing about this stuff is that it is non-toxic. It does have a smell, however, and you don’t want the concentrated stuff in cups in your house, so do this outside. Even if it freezes over a bit (which it has on me a couple of times) there doesn’t seem to be a problem. If you spill it on concrete or tile or whatnot, it’s a concentrated cleaner, and you’ve just cleaned the area a bit once you scrub it up.

Remember to read the directions and warnings on the Simple Green Bottle. Take any and all warnings seriously, although it is non-toxic. It can irritate some peoples’ skin. You’ll want to follow these directions, and wash up afterwards properly.

Step 2: Application

The best way I’ve found to do this is to use plastic cups, placing between 4-8 marines in each, and then fill the cup with simple green, covering all of the miniatures.

Here are some of my models soaking. You’ll notice a Land Raider Crusader over to the right in the first picture. It’s already been stripped on the bottom, so you can see some effectiveness there.

If I was in a hurry, I’ve had models be ready to have their paints come off in around 8-10 hours. The longer you leave the models in the Simple Green, however, the more the paint seems to loosen. I suggest a 3-5 day period of soaking for good paint removal.

Step 3: Paint Removal

This is once again a simple step. Either outside or in a sink that you can clean up afterwards with cleaning supplies, use a brush to scrub the paint off the model, doing so under running water. Be prepared if pieces come off the model where they were glued, you should be scrubbing fairly hard. I like to use an old toothbrush, but as long as you have a brush that will get into the cracks of the model and get the paint scrubbed, you’ll be fine. Here’s what my formerly dark blue model looked like after one scrubbing.

If you’d like, repeat Steps 2 and 3 to take even more off. I’ve reprimed the model and repainted from this stage, and been thrilled with the results.

Hope this helps, and feel free to make further suggestions in this thread if you have something else helpful on the subject.