When updating a mirror frame, using spray paint to change it to a new color is an easy option. The issue is that if you don’t get the mirror fully covered before you begin, you might end up with paint spots across the mirror’s surface. If so, the only thing on your mind might be figuring out how to get spray paint off a mirror.
When it comes to how to get spray paint off a mirror, several approaches can work. Steel wool or baking soda is abrasive enough to potentially scrub it away. Rubbing alcohol, acetone, or nail polish remover can often break the paint down. A magic eraser or some WD-40 might also do the trick.
However, those aren’t the only options. If you need to get spray paint off a mirror, here’s what you need to know.
- Will Spray Paint Damage a Mirror?
- How to Get Spray Paint off Mirror: 10 Easy Ways
- How to Remove Spray Paint from Mirror Frames
- How to Protect a Mirror from Spray Paint
- What’s the Best Way to Get Spray Paint off Mirror?
Will Spray Paint Damage a Mirror?
Generally speaking, spray paint won’t harm a mirror in the vast majority of cases. The surface of a mirror is simply glass, so it’s highly resilient and incredibly durable. As long as the amount of pressure applied when cleaning away the paint is reasonable – ensuring the glass doesn’t break – you’re generally in good shape.
Spray paint won’t leave stains or break down the glass on a mirror. That means you have time to figure out the best way to get spray paint off the mirror in most cases.
The only reason to move quickly is that wet spray paint may be easier to deal with than dry. Otherwise, the effort required and the final result are primarily the same, regardless of how long the dry spray paint has sat on the surface.
How to Get Spray Paint off Mirror: 10 Easy Ways
Before you worry about how to get spray paint off a mirror, it’s best to do some preparation. If possible, remove the mirror from its frame. That ensures you don’t have to worry about how to protect the frame when you work. Plus, it makes it easier to access all of the paint, as none of the mirrors is covered by the frame.
Also, gather together any safety gear you might need. For many of the options below, gloves are a good idea. Additionally, you may want eye protection and a breathing mask. There are also times when all three pieces of equipment are essential necessities.
Otherwise, here’s a look at popular and effective ways to get spray paint off a mirror.
1. Steel WoolMirrors are traditionally made with tempered glass since it’s safer than using non-tempered glass. As a result, the surface is highly scratch-resistant, allowing you to use abrasive materials to remove the paint without risking the mirror’s surface.
If you’re dealing with dry spray paint, steel wool may be able to take it right off. Simply wet the steel wool and rub it over the paint using light to moderate pressure. Then, use a damp cloth to wipe up the paint remnants. Then, use a dry cloth once all the paint is gone to wipe away the excess water.
2. Rubbing Alcohol
As a solvent, rubbing alcohol can be used to remove spray paint from a mirror. Generally, this option works best with water-based spray paints, not oil-based ones. As a result, you may want to use another method if you have oil-based spray paint on your mirror.
If you’re dealing with water-based spray paint, simply apply rubbing alcohol to a folded paper towel. Rub the paint using a quick back-and-forth motion. Rubbing alcohol could harm the frame’s finish, so you want to avoid contact with it as you work.
If the paper towel dries out, apply more rubbing alcohol. If the paper towel collects a significant amount of paint, switch out for a clean one before adding rubbing alcohol and continuing.
One benefit of using rubbing alcohol is that it fully evaporates, so you don’t have to rinse. However, if you’re seeing loose paint on the surface, cleaning it with a damp paper towel before drying it off with a clean rag is an option.
3. AcetoneAcetone can break down paint, making it easier to remove from the surface of a mirror. However, it can also break down paint on a mirror frame, so you’ll want to exercise caution as you work to avoid damaging paint you want to keep intact.
In most cases, the easiest way to use acetone is to apply some to a folded paper towel. Remember that you may want to put on gloves, ensuring the acetone stays off of your hands.
Once you add some acetone to the paper towel, rub it across the spray paint using short motions. As needed, apply fresh acetone to the paper towel, and replace it with a clean one when it gets dirty.
After removing the paint, you can rinse the mirror with a clean, damp paper towel, using another clean one to dry it. However, the acetone will also evaporate on its own, so you don’t technically have to rinse if you prefer not to take the time.
4. Nail Polish Remover
Like pure acetone, nail polish remover can break down the spray paint, allowing you to wipe it away. However, if you want this to work, you’ll need to use a nail polish remover that contains acetone. Not all nail polish removers contain that ingredient, so you’ll want to review the product packaging to make sure it’s the right type.
Once you have the nail polish remover, apply some to a cotton ball, disposable cotton pad, or a folded paper towel. Wipe it across the paint, exercising caution to ensure you don’t get any nail polish remover on the frame.
As needed, apply more nail polish remover to the cotton ball, cotton pad, or paper towel. If the cotton ball, cotton pad, or paper towel collects too much paint, switch out to a new one on occasion to make cleaning up the paint easier.
Once you’re done, you can apply some water to a clean cotton ball, cotton pad, or paper towel if you like and wipe down the area. Follow it up with a dry paper towel to remove excess water. However, this step isn’t technically necessary.
5. Baking Soda
Baking soda is incredibly abrasive, so you can use it to remove dried-on paint from a mirror. Make sure you put on gloves before you begin, as baking soda can irritate the skin.
After putting on gloves, take some baking soda and add a little water to create a paste. Then, rub the paste onto the paint, using small, circular motions to essentially sand it away.
Once the paint is scraped up, you have a choice. You can grab a damp, clean rag and use that to wipe away the baking soda paste, or you can put some vinegar in a spray bottle and carefully spritz the baking soda before wiping the mirror clean. The vinegar causes a reaction that breaks down the baking soda, so you aren’t dealing with a granular material if you go that route.
6. Magic EraserWhile it may not seem like it when you handle one, a magic eraser – also called a melamine sponge – is incredibly abrasive. The melamine resin threads are surprisingly sharp, allowing the magic eraser to essentially stand away built-up materials on durable surfaces.
Since glass can withstand the abrasiveness of a magic eraser, it’s a great option for removing spray paint from a mirror. Simply get the magic eraser damp and use circular motions over the spray paint to take it off the mirror. Once the paint is gone, use a dry cloth to wipe away any remaining water.
7. Oven CleanerOven cleaner contains incredibly strong chemicals capable of breaking down a wide range of substances. It’s harder to work with than some alternatives on this list because it’s typically caustic.
Along with potential skin burns, an oven cleaner can irritate the eyes and lungs. Since that’s the case, you’ll want to don gloves, eye protection, and a breathing mask if you want to go this route.
Take a clean rag you’re willing to throw away and spray it with oven cleaner. Next, apply it across the spray paint on the mirror, making sure you don’t accidentally contact the frame. Let the oven cleaner sit on the mirror for about 20 to 30 minutes.
Then, use another clean rag you’re willing to toss to wipe up the oven cleaner and remove the paint. If necessary, repeat the process until the paint is gone. Finally, use a fresh cloth and water to remove any remaining oven cleaner.
Thanks to degreasing agents, WD-40 is another great option for removing paint. Usually, it’s a strong choice if the spray paint is still damp, though it can still work even if the paint is entirely dry.
In most cases, you can apply it to the mirror using a clean rag, let it sit for about 15 minutes, then wipe it away. After that, rinsing the mirror is essential, as you’ll want to remove any remaining WD-40.
Like most approaches on this list, you may need to repeat the process to get the best result. Additionally, make sure to keep the WD-40 off of the mirror frame. Otherwise, it might harm the finish.
It’s important to note that WD-40 works best on water-based paints. Additionally, it’s not the most cost-effective approach, so you should only go this route if you’re just dealing with a little bit of paint on a mirror.
9. ScraperIf you aren’t against an entirely manual approach, a simple scraper could be a straightforward way to remove dried paint from a mirror. In some cases, you’ll want to apply a bit of soapy water to help the scraper slide across the mirror more easily. Otherwise, ensure you use a shallow angle and initially keep the pressure light.
Just move the scraper in one direction, as a back-and-forth could harm the surface. Keep the pressure light or moderate as you work, as too much could increase your odds of breakage.
Once the paint is off of the mirror, use some soapy water to remove it. Follow that with a water rinse, and use a dry cloth to pick up excess water and paint debris.
10. Graffiti RemoverIf there is a lot of spray paint on your mirror, then a commercial graffiti remover might be your easiest option. While you’ll need to make sure you don’t get any on the frame, as it can harm the finish, it’s worth trying if you’re dealing with a particularly stubborn paint.
In most cases, you’ll simply apply the graffiti remover, let it sit, and then wipe it away before cleaning the mirror with some water. However, the exact process can vary by manufacturer, so read the instructions to see precisely how you need to use the graffiti remover.
As with many other approaches, it’s crucial to keep the graffiti remover off the frame. If you don’t, it could harm the finish.
You’ll likely want to use gloves, eye protection, and a breathing mask. Graffiti remover can involve some incredibly strong chemicals, so it’s best to go the extra mile regarding safety.
How to Remove Spray Paint from Mirror Frames
If you want to strip spray paint from a mirror frame, begin by removing the mirror if possible. If that isn’t an option, cover it with newspaper and use painter’s tape to seal down the edges.
Next, you’ll need to apply a paint stripper. Generally, you’ll need to follow the manufacturer’s directions, which can vary depending on the product involved. However, once the paint stripper sits the required amount of time, the next step is typically to use a scraper to remove the solvent and the paint.
If you have small nooks and crannies, you can use a stiff-bristled brush to get into those areas. Avoid metal brushes as they can potentially harm many frame materials. When in doubt, a disposable toothbrush you can throw out when you’re done can often do the trick.
In some cases, you may need to repeat the process above. Once the paint is gone, clean the frame using water and a clean, soft rag. Then, use a dry, soft rag to remove excess water.
At that point, you may need to take some additional steps to smooth out the surface or prepare for new paint. Usually, a light sanding with fine-grit sandpaper works well if your frame is wood.
How to Protect a Mirror from Spray Paint
In most cases, the best way to protect a mirror from spray paint is to remove it before you start painting. Typically, you can look at the pack of the mirror and find nails, hooks, or similar items holding the mirror in place. By loosening or moving those, you can then take the mirror out.
However, if the mirror isn’t removable, that doesn’t mean you can’t protect it from the spray paint. One easy way to begin is to place the newspaper across the center of the mirror, leaving just a quarter-inch gap between the newspaper on the mirror and the edge of the frame. Then, use painter’s tape to cover that gap and keep the newspaper in place.
If there’s space between the mirror and the inside of the frame where the mirror sits against it, you could potentially use another approach. For example, you might be able to slide the poster board into that gap. Since the poster board is a bit stiff, it’ll generally stay in place on its own. Just use overlapping pieces to ensure the entire mirror is covered.
Once you’ve covered the mirror, you also want to work carefully. It’s better to apply thin, even layers of spray paint than a heavy coat that might drip, especially if you want to ensure that runoff doesn’t get on your mirror.
Additionally, watch the angle to ensure you don’t spray into the part of the frame that contacts the mirror. Again, that limits the chance of paint accidentally seeping onto the mirror.
What’s the Best Way to Get Spray Paint off Mirror?
Ultimately, several options above are highly effective at removing spray paint from a mirror. In many cases, it’s easiest to start with approaches involving common household items that are also low-risk, such as baking soda or nail polish remover. However, don’t be afraid to move on to other approaches, like oven cleaner or graffiti remover, if the situation demands it.
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