How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete: 5 Best Ways

How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete: 5 Best Ways

Handyman's World is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Driveways, garages, and sometimes even basements are often the locations of choice for DIY spray painting projects. As such, overspray can happen with even the most careful preparation. Paint can be a particular pain to remove from concrete.

This article will review the different methods you can use to remove spray paint from concrete surfaces, the pros and cons for each, and will identify the best removal method from the options listed.

How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete: 5 Best Ways

Depending on the type of spray paint used, different methods may be more effective than others. The details below will be separated by the type of paint base. In cases where the base is unknown, the suggested route is to start with the gentler latex-based routine, then escalate to more aggressive measures if unsuccessful.

1. Soap and Water

As the gentlest removal method, traditional soap and water is an excellent first choice. This method requires some manual effort on your part but is simple, cheap, and eco-friendly. It isn’t as aggressive as other removal methods, which means it can take more effort and be more time-consuming.

The materials needed are simple: dish soap, water (hot is best), a bucket, and a scrub brush. In spaces where the area can’t be rinsed clear with running water, towels or paper towels will also be needed.

How to Remove Spray Paint with Soap and Water

  • Step 1: Fill the bucket with hot water and 1 – 2 tablespoons of dish soap.
  • Step 2: Dip the brush into the bucket and scrub the affected area.
  • Step 3: Rinse the area with water or dab with a towel/paper towel.
  • Step 4: Repeat as necessary until the paint is removed.

2. Power Washing

Power washing is the easiest removal method in terms of physical effort. The power washer focuses pressurized water through a nozzle that blasts away unwanted debris. For those that already own a power washer, it is inexpensive and eco-friendly. Since high pressure is used, care must be taken not to use too high of a setting, as to avoid damage. It is also quite messy due to the overspray. The materials you will need are a power washer, eye protection, and a garden hose. Optional materials include rain boots (highly recommended), plastic sheeting, and towels.

How to Remove Spray Paint with a Power Washer

  • Step 1: Put on eye protection.
  • Step 2: Use plastic sheeting to protect nearby areas from overspray.
  • Step 3: Hook up your power washer to power and a water source according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Step 4: Set the power washer to 3000 psi.
  • Step 5: Using smooth sweeping motions left and right, wash over the painted area until the paint is removed.
  • Step 6: Leave to air dry or blot with towels.

3. Acetone or Nail Polish Remover

Acetone is a solvent that can be used to break down paint or other materials. It is an ingredient in nail polish remover, which is why nail polish remover is a good backup option. It is inexpensive but isn’t as eco-friendly as other options listed in this article.

This substance also gives off strong fumes and is best used in outdoor or well-ventilated settings. To remove paint with acetone you will need rubber gloves, safety glasses, a thick-bristle brush, and towels or paper towels. Water is optional for cleanup.

How to Remove Spray Paint with Acetone

  • Step 1: Put on rubber gloves and eye protection. Prolonged direct contact with acetone should be avoided.
  • Step 2: Pour acetone directly onto soiled concrete.
  • Step 3: Brush vigorously.
  • Step 4: Before acetone completely evaporates, blot with towels to remove the paint.
  • Step 5: Repeat as needed.
  • Step 6 (optional): Rinse with water and blot to dry.

4. Mineral Spirits or Paint Thinner

Mineral spirits and paint thinner are two solvents that are highly effective in breaking down oil-based materials. Mineral spirits are the more refined, cleaner substance of the two. It is used in various cleaning tasks, while paint thinner is specifically used to break down paint. They are both inexpensive and easily accessible but are not eco-friendly. Also, both give off powerful fumes, though mineral spirits do less so than paint thinner. It is not suggested to use either for indoor use unless in an extremely well-ventilated area.

Neither solvent is well-suited for latex paint removal, so they may not work in all instances. Care needs to be taken to keep these substances from coming into direct contact with your skin, eyes, and mouth. Rubber gloves, eye protection, a stiff-bristle brush, and towels or paper towels are needed. Water is optional for cleanup.

How to Remove Spray Paint with Mineral Spirits or Paint Thinner

  • Step 1: Put on rubber gloves and eye protection.
  • Step 2: Pour mineral spirits or paint thinner (only use one, do not mix) directly on soiled concrete or use a brush to apply.
  • Step 3: Brush vigorously in a circular motion, changing directions frequently.
  • Step 4: Before the solvent completely evaporates, blot with paper towels or towels to remove the paint.
  • Step 5: Repeat as needed.
  • Step 6 (optional): Rinse with water and blot to dry.

5. Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

Trisodium Phosphate, also called sugar soap, is an aggressive solution that is highly effective as a cleaner. It comes in powder form and needs to be mixed with water in order to use. This method does require manual scrubbing, but much less than the other solutions and solvents previously mentioned. Because TSP is such a strong alkaline solution, it requires gloves for safe handling. There may also be regulations regarding its use in your state, so that must also be noted. For TSP paint removal, gloves, water, a bucket, a stiff-bristled brush, and paper towels or towels are necessary.

Removing Spray Paint with TSP

  • Step 1: Put on gloves. Eye protection is also recommended.
  • Step 2: Mix the TSP with water in the bucket according to the instructions on the box.
  • Step 3: Using the brush, saturate the painted area with the solution and scrub in a circular motion.
  • Step 4: Let the solution sit for 30 minutes.
  • Step 5: Rinse the area and repeat if necessary.

Mistakes to Avoid, Tips & Tricks

To help you with efficient removal, some helpful tips and tricks are listed below, along with some common mistakes to avoid.

1. Use the Right Brush

Many of the paint removal techniques require the use of a stiff-bristled brush. The type of brush used does matter. The bristles must be stiff enough to stand up against the rough texture of the concrete. Look for heavy-duty nylon brushes, carpet brushes, or brushes specifically designed to clean concrete.

2. Go the Simple Route First

The best approach to any cleanup job is to choose the simplest, gentlest option first. Some of the more aggressive measures can result in damage to your concrete if done improperly or if the material is already in a weakened state.

3. Power Washing Safety

When using a power washer, always make sure to read the manufacturer’s instructions on setup and use. With concrete, psi should be set at 3000 and a flow rate of at least 4 gallons per minute. If the paint is stubborn, the pressure can be increased to an appropriate level. Avoid immediately turning the power washer to the highest setting. It’s often unnecessary and more than likely will cause damage to your surface.

4. Safe Chemical Use

Always read the material data safety sheet (MSDS) for any chemical you are using. These sheets hold important information regarding health, fire, and storage safety information. When in doubt, always use gloves, eye protection, and use them in a well-ventilated area.

Removing Spray Paint from Concrete: Frequently Asked Questions

Lastly, here are answers to some commonly asked questions on this topic.

What Is the Best Way to Get Spray Paint From Concrete?

Overall, the best method to remove spray paint from concrete is the tried and true method of soap and water. It is cheap, gentle, effective, and readily available using normal household materials.

What Household Items Can You Use to Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

The most common household materials available for spray paint removal are dish soap, water, and a brush. Other common materials found in the home, such as acetone (nail polish remover) or paint thinner are also good options.

Will a Pressure Washer Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Yes, a pressure washer effectively removes spray paint from concrete.

Will Acetone Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Acetone is a good option to remove spray paint from concrete with some good old-fashioned elbow grease. It isn’t as effective as more powerful chemicals, like paint thinner, but it is a good option when a more heavy-duty approach is needed.

Will Bleach Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

No, bleach is not effective at removing spray paint. It will lighten the entire area it is applied to, creating a reverse stain. While it may remove some paint, the results are often unsightly.

Will Gasoline Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

While gasoline is touted as a home remedy for spray paint on smooth surfaces (often in the automotive industry), it is strongly recommended that you do not use gasoline to remove spray paint. It is not proven as an effective remover on concrete and gives off dangerous flammable fumes as it dissipates.

Will Mineral Spirits Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Yes, but mineral spirits will only remove oil-based spray paint. It is not an effective option for latex-based paints.

Will Paint Thinner Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Yes, but like mineral spirits, it will only remove oil-based spray paint.

Will Vinegar Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

No. While vinegar may soften spray paint to make it easier to remove via another method, it will not remove spray paint alone.

Will WD-40 Remove Spray Paint From Concrete?

Yes, WD-40 does contain oils that help lift and remove spray paint from concrete. It can be quite effective, though because it is an oil-based product, WD-40 will leave an oily residue that can seep into the concrete unless it is removed with soap and water soon afterward.


Regardless of how the paint got there, this article should have helped you identify the method necessary to remove it from your concrete surface. Whether you choose a manual or chemical method, you should now be aware of that method’s advantages, disadvantages, and techniques for removal.