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How To Clean Paint from Stainless Steel

Because stainless steel is such a great material for utility sinks, surfaces and tools, it can easily come into contact with materials from a wide variety of home improvement projects. Paint can easily land on stainless steel, and if dry, become a challenging stain to remove. Abrasive techniques are not necessarily recommended to help avoid accidentally damaging the finish. Solvents are a viable option though, and paint drops on stainless steel are certainly not insurmountable. To help ensure the best possible results, all methods and cleaning materials or solvents should be tested in an inconspicuous area first before using on a wider area. It may be advisable to remove contact lenses and use eyeglasses instead when using solvents that can cause hazardous fumes.

A wide variety of solvents are suitable for use on stainless steel. They have varying degrees of strength and toxicity, so the decision on what solvent to use will depend on how well-ventilated the work area is, which solvents you already have on hand, and the severity of the paint stains/spills. Solvents should not be combined, so if you try one solvent and which to try a different one, you must first thoroughly clean the affected area of any solvent residue, wait for any fumes to dissipate, and use fresh cleaning cloths and towels. Use protective gear that is rated for use with solvents (for example, don't use vinyl gloves that could potentially dissolve upon contact with lacquer thinner or other solvents)

Turpentine is a good choice for a first attempt at removal. It will be effective with both fresh and dried paint, and is somewhat less toxic than petroleum-based alternatives. Take a clean rag and dampen a corner with turpentine. Apply with a rubbing motion directly to the paint stains to help dissolve and dislodge them. Rinse the area thoroughly with water. Follow with a light overall cleansing with Bon Ami and water. If the fumes of turpentine are bothersome, you can try using odorless mineral spirits as an alternative.

Lacquer thinner can also be used. Lacquer thinner is a combination of acetone and other solvents. Dampen a clean rag or sponge with lacquer thinner and rub directly on the paint to soften and remove the stain. Following paint removal, rinse the area thoroughly with water. Finish with a light overall cleansing with Bon Ami and water.

When the paint, solvent residue, and any light soil has been removed, rinse completely with water and pat dry with clean dry paper towels. Rinsing with water and patting dry with clean paper towels between each use is a good maintenance tip as well. For added conditioning, you can dampen a corner of a clean paper towel or soft cloth with a small amount of olive oil, and buff lightly into the stainless steel surface.

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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