Stripping Paint

Over the years I've had to get the paint of more than a few models and gone through quite a few methods to do so. The biggest issue is that most things that strip paint also do horrible things to plastic. My previous solution to this was to use brake fluid, but it is evil stuff to work with and difficult to dispose of (you shouldn't pour it down the sink).

In search of an alternative, I came across this post from Graven Games enthusing about using Dettol. Not wanting to pass on untested information, I've taken it on myself to experiment with their method.

My first task was to acquire materials. A trip to the local super market got me a 750ml bottle of Dettol Antiseptic (Chlotoxylenol 4.8% w/v) and a sealable plastic container for under £7.

Sadly I don't have to look far for models of my own in need of a fresh start, nut in this instance a recent eBay purchase provides the the voulenteers for the process.

Here's a better picture of the bottle, for those wanting to recreat things.

Getting things started was fairly easy, apart from the annoying discovery that the dividers are removable rather than built in, which means I needed a whole bottle to fill the bottom of my container. As well as the models I put in some Citadel plastic and a base, to see what effect the stuff would have on platic.

It was then a question of waiting. 

I ledft the models in overnight, and returned to them roughly 12 hours later. If you look at the picture below you can see the definition has gone from the models where the paint has litfted from the surface in a layer.

Pulling out one of the models  shows the way the paint has shifted.

A bit of work with a toothbrush and...

Looking almost as good as new. There are still some deposits in the nooks and crannies, but it's not at all bad for such a short soak.

Once the paints cleaned off,  these models will be getting a wash in soapy water to remove the lingering traces of Dettol, making them ready for painting.

So Dettol does the business, and gets quick results. It also seems to have left my two plastic test pieces unhared. There are things to beware of though.
  • The stuff stinks (oddly like poster paint). You'll want a sealable container to leave stuff in, and a well ventelated area to work in. 
  • Undilluted it's fairly powerful stuff, (the list of indredients is an interesting read) and you don't want it on your skin. Wear gloves, and avoid getting it in your eyes. 
  • When cleaning off the paint, don't use water. The paint will start to set again and adhere to anything it touches.
  • Apparently Citadel Finecast doesn't survive this treatment well. When I've tested some I'll let you know.


  1. Fairy Power Spray works better and doesn't stink the way Dettol does.

    1. Thanks for the advice. I'll give that a try on the next batch.

    2. I've had fps do some odd things to plastic if you leave it too long (but half an hour or so is normally enough). Word on finecast isn't too hopeful though. it's also really good at keeping your hob clean!

    3. If you're using something with a stink, use the figures + liquid in a small sealed container, then put that container into a larger sealed container. Keeps most of the smell contained.

    4. That does seem the easiest solution. Need to hunt up a larger box, and one for washing the models in, as it's not doing the sink favours. Any remaining paint turns to pigmented glue when water is added.

  2. Yeah ive used both FPS and Dettol and i prefer Dettol. the key point is made above, dont let any water near the model, it will reset the paint, scrub with dettol

    dettol is also less harmful to the skin than FPS.

    1. Made the water mistake, and then spent more than a few minutes thinking I'd stained the sink. Can't believe how well and fast the adhesive component recovers.

    2. Dettol isn't great for the skin either, whatever you use, if it can strip paint, you'd probably best wear gloves! Vinyl gloves are good, non bulky, grip well and are cheap, or else you could steal a bunch of the free plastic ones from the garage...

    3. Always wondered why people grabbed those...

  3. How did the plastics handle it?

    1. The plastic has been in just short of 24 hours and is none the worse for wear, having neither softened, or reacted weirdly.

      That's standard GW plastic though. I've no idea how other company's stuff might react, nor resin or finecast.

  4. If your in America use simple green concentrate ( they only sell it in concentrate)

    grab a mason jar,
    insert models
    cover with simple green
    close jar
    come back a week later (or 24 hours)
    brush paint off
    pour down drain.

    tested on plastic, metal, Forgeworld resin, Armorcast resin

    1. Simple Green does seem to be the most mentioned product on the web for paint stripping. Not sure we get it in the UK though, need to keep an eye out for it.


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