There are various methods for stripping paint from your plastic miniatures by using simple chemicals from around the house and some elbow grease.

strip paint off of plastic miniatures? simple!

This post goes into various different methods of removing bad paint jobs from old models and how to strip paint off of miniatures easily or specifically – how to strip paint from plastic miniatures using cheap and low-cost methods!

The quick answer of “how to strip paint off of plastic miniatures” is – you will need to soak or immerse your models in a solution that will soften or dissolve your paint to a level in which you scrub the partially dissolved paint away with a toothbrush or bristle brush.

This answer is based on tried and true methods from other online tutorials and first-hand experience. The methods used in this paint removal tutorial are based on accessible solutions and chemicals that you can either buy or have laying around a UK household.

Solutions such as Dettol are worth semi-considering as it can do the job… and is likely to be stored under your kitchen sink. (there’s a but, and I will go into this later)

strip paint off of plastic miniatures


Using liquids such as Diall Paint Cleaner or white spirit can be effective and relatively cheap and easy to use.

When using Diall Cleaner, the paint came away from plastic miniatures with relative ease. As the photo illustrates. A stripped, cleaned, and re-primed Warhammer 40 K Space marine.

Stripped and primed ready for paint

Methods for removal : how to strip paint from plastic miniatures

This is a tried and tested list of cheap and effective ways of removing paint from miniatures (or models).

All the processes were much the same in that the plastic model was immersed in all of the different liquids to see which was most effective at removing the old paint.

This post does focus a lot on how to strip paint from a UK perspective.

Why does that matter?

*The chemicals, brands, and solutions will differ based on your country or region. Some of the chemicals will have different names.

To make a direct comparison for countries outside of the UK, you will need to swap out your paint stripping chemicals and solutions with brands from your country or region.

The principles for how to strip paint off of plastic miniatures will be more or less the same, regardless of country.

For your reference Dettol, a UK brand is made of the following chemicals:


The active ingredient in Dettol that confers its antiseptic property is chloroxylenol (C8H9ClO), an aromatic chemical compound. Chloroxylenol comprises 4.8% of Dettol’s total admixture, with the rest made up of pine oil, isopropanol, castor oil, soap, and water.

– Wikipedia

The methods listed have been used on Warhammer Space Marines, Spare bits, Khorne Bezerkers, and other odds and ends.

The results have all been fairly consistent, with almost complete removal of the paint. With the addition of spray primer, you’d never have known that these models have ever had paint on them!

strip paint off of plastic miniatures - dettol

Note that the Space Marine was cleaned with my favoured solution – the Diall Cleaner

By following this post, hopefully, you will end up with similar results to the image shown above after you have stripped the paint from your plastic miniature.

The one thing that I should mention early on is that this post does not cover how to prime your model. The focus is on the removal of paint from plastic only.

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The basics | what you need to strip paint off of your plastic miniatures

Kit to strip paint off of plastic miniatures
What you need to strip paint from plastic miniatures!

A firm brush, or something to scrub with

In order to get the paint away from the plastic, you will literally need something to scrub it. One of the cheapest and easiest solutions is by using something most likely sitting around your house.

An old toothbrush

If you want to use a new toothbrush feel free, so long as it is good enough for the job. (and you don’t put back near the sink, which I did – telling off!)

However, you want to go about the brush. It will need to have firm bristles to get into nooks and crannies and scrub away softened and dissolved paint.

You may find firm bristle brush somewhere else, but a good old fashioned toothbrush works wonders, like the one shown here.

Tooth brush for models strip paint off of plastic miniatures

( A toothbrush used by a troll! )

A container for the paint removing solution

There are plenty of items you can use around the house to contain the paint removing solution (paint stripper chemical). Here are a few ideas to help:

  • A plastic cup
  • A bottle, which has been cut in half
  • Tupperware box or sandwich box deep enough to contain the model
  • Yogurt pots
  • Glass Jars
  • Half milk bottles
  • Half coke bottles
  • Old cups
  • Takeaway boxes
  • Empty paint tins
  • An empty treacle tin…

These are just a few ideas, if you see something else that you think will contain both the solution and the model then use that instead!

You do not need to spend money on fancy equipment for the container. Many of the items to strip the paint can be found around the house. Nothing high-tech! Just simple readily available items.

For myself, I found a clear plastic cup. Which is narrow and deep so you can hopefully reduce wastage.

In other words, I went for a deep and narrow container as opposed to wide and shallow.

strip paint off of plastic miniatures - containers!

kitchen towel, or newspaper

Keeping in mind the nature of what you are doing “stripping paint from plastic miniatures” there is no stopping the paint thinner of a stripper from taking varnish or lackers from work surfaces and tables.

Let’s not take a chance here!

Look for something that will both allow you to wipe the excess paint muck from your model and something to protect your work surfaces!

You don’t want to have to re-varnish the table due to droplets of paint stripping spillage!

The solution that will strip the paint

I mentioned before that you will actually need to use a solution of some kind to remove the paint from the surface of your plastic model, be it a Warhammer 40K model or Airfix or something else cast from a similar material.

Stripping paint solution

When selecting a solution ( I used Diall, with good results) you need to check whether the paint is water-based paint or something else.

Not all paint removers and strippers can remove certain paints.

Primers in particular can be resistant and take a lot of time and effort to remove. But, that said most things, with persistence and elbow grease can be removed – even primer.

If you do not wish to purchase a paint stripping solution to remove the paint from your model you may wish to consider something like Dettol or even alcohol if nothing else is available.

With these core items in mind: the container, the brush, and the paint stripping solution for your figurine or model you are now ready to start the process of removing the paint.

As a side note – practice safety too. Don’t drink or ingest the chemicals, wear gloves if needed.

With all of you kit ready for stripping paint! The next stages looks at what you need to do to get that stuff of the miniature.

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how to strip paint from miniatures UK | the simple step

The major step to actually removing the paint from your model as easily and effectively as possible is in what solution you soak the paint and the model in.

“how to strip paint off of plastic miniatures uk” brand note

I mention the ‘UK’ quite a lot throughout this post. The reason being is although the process will be the same in whichever part of the world you are in ( as already mentioned) – the paint strippers – the specific brands and materials will differ according to the region.

At any stage, you may substitute the UK based brands and paint strippers with your local region equivalent. The information toward the beginning of the post references the chemical compound of Dettol. Use this information in your local search.

When testing solutions for removing paint from plastic miniatures, I used something called ‘Diall Cleaner’ which was purchased from B&Q.

Many DIY or home stores should stock this item. I tried other methods but Diall Cleaner was one of my favourites.

Please note, Diall Paint Cleaning solution is not for children.

Easy as 1,2,3,4,5

Basing what I have tried and tested with positive results for stripping paint from your plastic models , do the following:

  1. ) Get your container that will fit both your model and the paint stripping chemical. (Diall Paint Cleaner)
  2. ) Plonk the miniature into the container!
  3. ) Pour in the paint stripping chemical into the container, immersing the miniature
  4. ) leave overnight for the chemical to work its way into the paint.
  5. ) Test to see if it is ready for the stripping away paint.

Leaving the plastic miniature inside the paint removing solution overnight will allow the chemical to do its thing and make the task of scrubbing the paint from the miniature much much easier!

Be patient!

Once you have soaked the miniature overnight, remove the miniature, place it onto your paper towel, and start scrubbing with your toothbrush or bristle brush.

If the chemical has worked its magic, then the paint should start to flake and peel away with relative ease.

It should be noted that even if the model has been soaked in the chemical, it may still require a bit of effort to scrub away the excess paint from the gaps and cracks.

If there is a lot of paint on a model, you may need to repeat the process a couple of times before it is ready for priming.

In a nutshell – that is how to strip paint off of plastic miniatures UK, soak the miniature in a solution and scrub it all off when it ready.

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Extra tip to check if the paint is ready to come away!

fun board games for house share

You don’t need to pull everything out of the container to see if it ready for having the paint removed.

If the paint stripping chemical is clear, such as Diall, when it starts to turn murky with the colour of the paint from the miniature, that is an indicator that the model is ready for a scrub down!

You can also run your fingernail across the surface of the plastic to see if the paint has become somewhat more rubbery and loose.

Happy scrubbing!

Hopefully this has shed some light how to strip paint off of plastic miniatures cheaply and effectively! More so if you are based in the UK and are looking for a specific chemical to remove the paint from the plastic figurine.

You do not need to spend a fortune, many of the parts you need for stripping that paint can actually be found around the home.

But by far, to this stage, one of my favoured and least time-consuming methods is by soaking the miniature in Diall paint cleaner and then scrubbing with a brush. Thumbs up from me. (red thumb!)

If you do not wish to use Diall, here are some alternative methods for stripping paint off of plastic miniatures in the UK.

Diall Cleaner strip paint off of plastic miniatures

Alternative cheap methods for stripping paint from plastic miniatures

Keeping things on topic and relative these chemicals are from retail stores in the UK.

There are a couple of cheap and alternative ways for removing paint from plastic miniatures by using things from around the home. Dettol is one method and is likely to be kept under the kitchen sink.

And whiskey! Can also (but painstakingly) remove paint from the plastic miniatures if you are looking for another alternative solution.

The chemicals mentioned above are only worth going to if you have no other means to get removers such as the Diall Paint Cleaner or access to something such as white spirit or nail varnish remover.

I would like to mention that, although I have personally not used white spirit or nail varnish. I have read that they are both noteworthy chemicals to use for removing paint, according to other online sources.

Before discovering Diall Paint Cleaner, I used the 2 approaches below to remove waterbased/acrylic paints from old miniatures.

These 2 convenient ways for stripping paint are as follows!

1 ) Dettol – you will find this mentioned on various forums and dedicated blogs across the internet. It is a tried and tested method.

2 ) Whisky – This one was a very unusual approach that I experimented with that worked – almost…

Cheap and accessible methods for removing paint from plastic miniatures

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Using Dettol to remove paint from plastic miniatures

Dettol does work, but it took a few attempts, required slightly harder scrubbing, and is more expensive if you have a lot of paint to strip.

Using Dettol and bit of grit and determination can remove paint from plastic miniatures but it is not quick or easy to do – based on my experience.

Using Dettol to remove paint from plastic models is an okay method for convenience and the process is the same mentioned above.

So, yes – Dettol can be used to remove paint from plastic miniatures.

Here is how to use Dettol to remove paint from plastic miniatures.

How to use Dettol to strip paint from miniatures

The method and process is almost exactly the same as the others. Place the model in a container and pour enough Dettol to cover the model.

Leave for 12 hours and check to see if you can scrub the paint away with a toothbrush.

If it starts to come away, great! If it doesn’t, drop the miniature back into the Dettol and allow it to soak further to see if you have any luck later with peeling the paint away later.

Using Dettol took many more attempts to remove the paint from the models, worse still for models that had thick layers of paint.


The only merit of using Dettol for stripping paint from your plastic model is that you are likely to have it around the house. Personally, if you can, I would recommend using the Diall Cleaner or something similar!

Using Dettol took around 5 attempts + on some models to clean a model back to a level where it was ready for priming.

It gave me a sore thumb too!

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Whisky to remove paint from your miniatures

Yes, as ludicrous as it sounds – you can use cheap whisky to strip the paint from the model. Cheap whisky may be in your cupboard or lying around somewhere! Just don’t waste the good stuff.

I would like to mention that Whisky is alcohol, please be responsible with it – AND certainly don’t try to drink it afterward.

Whisky, wasn’t the easiest to use, to be honest, and it required substantially more elbow grease to even start taking the paint off.

I was paranoid in stages that I would break the miniature whilst I was scrubbing it with so much vigour.

How to use whisky to strip paint from plastic miniatures – UK

The process is exactly the same as before. Use a container, drop the miniatures in, and pour the Whisky in until it covers the model or figurine!

Leave the Whisky to work it’s way into the paint.

Remove the model from the whisky!

Now try to scrub the paint away – (good luck!)

And then probably try and try again! And again! Whisky is another method for stripping paint away from plastic miniatures. But in my opinion by far one of the least efficient methods.

Using the whisky or alcohol method for removing paint can take many, many attempts and will leave your miniatures smelling of whisky too!

When you remove the miniature you will certainly get your angels share as they like to say in the Whisky business.

If you have a choice, use one of the methods above (or something else) but if you have no other choice…

Whisky as paint remover it is!

Please do not drink the whisky afterwards! And do not breathe in the whisky vapours for too long… and if you are under 18 – you may need to be supervised.

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Summary | how to strip paint off of plastic miniatures uk

To answer again, how to strip off your paint from your plastic miniatures, you will need to soak you miniature in chemical bath and scrub away the paint.

The exact chemical as favoured here was Diall Paint Clean. A clear paint cleaning solution that was very effective at removing paint from miniatures – even heavy-duty paint and thick paint.

A convenient solution for removing paint is by using chemicals that are around the house. This can a cleaner such as Dettol or nail varnish remover.

I have personally used Dettol on plastic miniatures purchased from Ebay – it is okay. But may require a lot of effort.

The Diall Cleaner bath in a plastic pot is by far one of my favourite ways of stripping paint from plastic miniatures.

Safety when stripping paints from your miniatures

Ensure that you practice safety when using these chemicals and a bit of common sense. Stripping paint shouldn’t be inherently dangerous, but ingesting things such as Dettol or the Diall Cleaner is dangerous.

The same can be said for the Whisky bath – do not drink the cleaning solution made from the whisky bath as this may make you VERY ill.

If you are also concerned about your skin when stripping the paint from your plastic minis

wear gloves, be it a pair of marigolds or latex gloves or whichever is safest for you so you can protect your hands.

Final notes on my experiences of removing the paint

When I first started trying to strip paint from the plastic figurines I used a range of different solutions to try and get the paint off the model with varying degrees of success.

Initially, I tried using materials and chemicals from just around the house which was, cheap easy, and convenient although not strictly the best.

My favoured solution is the chemical solution purchased from B&Q – and it was for around £2.50, so relatively cheap. The Diall Cleaner.

If you have found this article helpful in how to strip paint from your plastic miniatures – well great! Happy stripping.

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