Acrylic paint is a water-soluble paint that only becomes water-resistant when it dries. Whether you use it for decorating windows or on a glass palette for your paintings, you’ll eventually need to remove the paint safely without scratching the glass surface.
Removing acrylic paint from glass is relatively simple if the paint hasn’t dried, as a quick rinse with water will get the job done! However, removing dried acrylic paint can prove to be more challenging as is it no longer water-soluble.
Acrylic paints contain acrylic emulsion, which forms a water-resistant film upon drying. This makes the removal process from glass tricky, as you’ll need to use the right solvents and equipment to ensure that you don’t accidentally scratch the glass.
In this guide, you’ll learn how to safely remove wet and dried acrylic paint from all types of glass surfaces safely. We’ve also included a section where we share some of the best practices.
Removing Wet Acrylic Paint from Glass
The acrylic emulsion from the paint does not dissolve when the paint is still wet, making it much easier to remove from any type of surface, including glass. Therefore, we always recommend cleaning your glass palette or freshly painted windows before the acrylic paint dries.
All you need to do is dampen a soft sponge or cloth to remove the paint from the glass surface and scrub away any residue. There are some differences when it comes to removing wet acrylic paint from a glass palette (for painters) and glass windows (for home decorators).
Cleaning Wet Acrylic Paint from a Glass Palette
It’s important to note that you should clean your glass palette in a bucket of warm water or outside near a drain, as the acrylic paint may clog your sink. To get a better idea of how to do this, simply follow the steps that we’ve outlined for you below.
- First, prepare a bucket and fill it with warm water. This can be a simple polyurethane bucket, as long as the glass palette fits inside it.
- Run the glass palette through the warm water in the bucket to remove the wet acrylic paint. You should notice most of the paint dissolving almost instantly.
- For paint that isn’t removed, simply brush them with your fingers, a cellulose sponge, or a soft microfiber cloth. Scrub the glass surface carefully with soft pressure using circular motions until it is spotless.
- Finally, lift it from the bucket and use a clean microfiber cloth to dry the glass, in order to prevent water marks.
Cleaning Wet Acrylic Paint from a Glass Window
Glass windows are a little trickier to clean, as you won’t be able to use a bucket. Instead, you’ll need to use a soft cloth and some warm water directly on the glass to remove the acrylic paint. Follow the steps below to get a better idea.
- Take a soft cloth and dampen it moderately with warm water. Wipe away the acrylic paint from the window pane with the cloth. Make sure that you only apply clean sections of the cloth to the glass.
- If the cloth gets stained by the acrylic paint, simply rinse it with water and repeat the process. You may need to use a bit more pressure for harder-to-remove paint stains.
- Once the window is spotless, use a fresh, dry cloth to wipe it.
Removing Dried Acrylic Paint from Glass
During the drying process of acrylic paint, water from the acrylic emulsion evaporates, creating a water-resistant film on the surface, making it harder to remove. While not impossible, you may need to use an effective solvent to help liquefy and break down the paint.
Follow the steps mentioned below carefully to safely remove dried acrylic paint from glass surfaces without accidentally scratching them.
1. Scrape Off the Acrylic Paint
The first step to removing dried acrylic paint from glass is to scrape it off using a plastic paint scraper or putty knife. Make sure that the object you choose is not made of metal or any other sharp material, as this may scratch the glass.
If you don’t have any tools available at home, you can also use an old credit card to scrape the paint off safely. Hold the tool at a 45-degree angle and start removing the acrylic paint by scraping it away.
2. Add a Solvent or a Cleaning Solution
After scraping most of the paint from the glass surface, you’ll need to clean away the residue using water and a cleaning solution or a solvent. For minor leftover stains, we recommend preparing an effective soap solution using a mild dish detergent or soap mixed with warm water.
For tougher stains, you should consider using a solvent such as rubbing or denatured alcohol, acetone, or a paint stripper. These solvents break down and dissolve the acrylic paint so that it can be lifted from the glass easily.
To begin removing hardened acrylic paint stains from glass, dampen a linen cloth with your chosen solvent and wipe it off using moderate pressure. Use back-and-forth motions to scrub away the spots that are tough to remove.
Linen is a soft but slightly abrasive cloth that can help remove the dried acrylic paint with ease, without risking any scratches on the glass surface. If the paint still doesn’t lift, coat the dried paint with the chosen solvent and let it sit for about 10 – 15 minutes.
Then wipe or scrub away the paint for a clean finish. Apply the solvent directly onto the acrylic paint using a sponge or cloth and scrub it away. Wash the glass properly with warm, soapy water to remove any residue.
Important Notice: When using a solvent-based cleaning solution, we highly recommend working in a well-ventilated area and wearing protective gloves (made of either butyl, rubber, or latex). Direct contact with solvents can cause skin irritation, dryness and inflammation.
3. Inspect for Leftover Stains
You should now inspect the glass surface for any leftover stains. Check for small streaks or spots you might have missed while cleaning, and repeat the previous step to clean away any paint residue.
4. Leave It to Dry
The last step in the process is to dry the glass with a clean microfiber cloth. This step will help prevent the formation of watermarks and streaking. Use a soft cloth to absorb any leftover water or soap. Run the cloth over the glass surface until it’s completely dry.
What to Look Out for When Removing Acrylic Paint from Glass
Although acrylic paint is easy to remove, there are various things that you should consider. While glass is a sturdy material, improper techniques, cleaners, and equipment can cause unsightly scratches. Therefore, we recommend following the best practices listed below for optimal results.
- Never Use a Metal Scraper on Glass – Using a metal scraper instead of a plastic one to scrape away dried acrylic paint will cause scratches on the glass surface. If you resort to similar tools, ensure that they are dull and don’t cause any scratches.
- Remove Acrylic Paint When It’s Still Wet – Acrylic paint is easiest to remove when it’s still wet. Therefore, we recommend removing the acrylic before it has time to dry. It can save you plenty of time and also reduce the risk of damage to the glass.
- Don’t Remove Acrylic Paint Over a Sink – Never remove acrylic paint over a sink, as it can clog up the drain pipe over time, resulting in blockages.
- Clean Your Glass with Care – It is important for you to clean and scrape the glass surface carefully at every step of the process. While glass is relatively sturdy, it can easily get scratched or damaged. Improper tools can even cause it to crack. It’s also important that you don’t apply too much pressure on the glass when you scrub or scrape it.
- Avoid Abrasive Cleaners – Avoid abrasive cleaning solutions and tools at all costs, as they can cloud, scratch, and damage your window or palette permanently.