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How To Clean Paint Splatter & Overpaint from Painted Surfaces

It may sound strange at first, but it does sometimes happen that unwanted paint gets on another painted surface. The most common way for this to occur is a spill or splatter from a different paint project. Because paint will bond to paint, it is extremely helpful to address this spill as soon as possible. Once dried, the tricks for alleviating the spill are a little more challenging. Paint finishes and base materials will vary, so test all cleaning solutions and application techniques in an inconspicuous  location before using them in a wider area.

If you are doing a paint project and spill, splatter or drip onto another painted surface, clean up as much of the unwanted paint as possible using a clean rag dampened with water. Use a wicking motion working from the outside of the spill inwards, and a turn to a clean section of the rag each time to avoid spreading the stain. Once the bulk of the stain is removed,  dampen the corner of a clean rag with glycerin. Lightly wipe the entire affected area with the glycerin. This will help slow drying while you sponge and clean the painted surface to remove the wet unwanted paint.  When the wet paint is removed, use a clean sponge to apply a lightly sudsy solution of mild pH neutral dish fluid diluted with water. This technique of bulk removal followed by a light overall cleansing should be sufficient to address fresh spills, drops and splatters. Try to avoid over wetting, and allow the cleaned painted surface to dry thoroughly.

For unwanted paint that has dried on a painted surface, the goal is to remove as much of the unwanted paint as possible with minimal effect to the painted surface that has been stained. For bulky drops that have dried on well-sealed or glazed surfaces, it may be possible to use a paint scraper to pry off the stain. Work the edge of the scraper between the drop and the painted surface gradually, much as you would use a spatula to pry a burnt pancake off a nice non-stick pan.

There is another option for flattening and alleviating unwanted paint on a different painted surface. You will need clean cotton swabs, acetone and a clean rag dampened with water. Apply the cotton swabs dampened (but not over soaked) with acetone directly to the unwanted paint. The goal is to work carefully and methodically to dissolve the unwanted paint, but control the process so that the painted surface underneath is unharmed. Work in small sections, and wipe periodically with the damp cloth to help keep the acetone confined to the unwanted paint. When removal has been completed to your satisfaction, finish with a light overall cleansing of the affected area using a clean sponge to apply a lightly sudsy solution of mild pH neutral dish fluid diluted with water. Try to avoid over wetting, and allow the painted surface to dry thoroughly.

For glossy and other patterned finishes that have been affected by paint spills or paint removal, you can consider using a clear gloss applied to mimic the finish of the wider area and camouflage the affected area. For other more intensive approaches such as completely stripping and repainting, refer to articles in the home improvement section.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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