How to Remove Paint From a Mirror

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubber or latex gloves

  • Nail polish remover

  • Paper towel

  • N-methyl pyrrolidone paint-stripping paste

  • Safety glasses

  • Vinegar

  • Disposable paintbrush

  • Disposable plastic putty knife


Use nail polish removers and paint-stripping chemicals in a well-ventilated area.

NMP-based strippers are available from several manufacturers, and you can also obtain them from paint stores, hardware stores and home improvement centers.


If there is any chance the paint on your mirror was produced before 1978, it must be tested for the presence of lead before any stripping or scraping can take place.

Do not use metal scrapers on a mirror, as they can easily scratch the surface.

Unlike ordinary dirt or grease marks, paint bonds very firmly to glass surfaces. Some paint-removing techniques -- metal scrapers or electric heat guns -- could damage the mirror's delicate surface, but the appropriate paint-stripping chemical will loosen the paint without damaging the mirror beneath. If the dried paint is simply errant drips and spatter from a recent painting project, ordinary nail polish can soften it up for easy removal. But when you're dealing with old dried-on paint, you'll need a more robust solution such as a paint-stripping paste.

Fresh Paint Spatter

Step 1

Slip on a pair of rubber or latex gloves.

Step 2

Pour a generous amount of fingernail polish remover onto a small portion of a folded or wadded-up paper towel. Rub the wet paper towel onto the paint specks to soften them, then wipe the paint off the mirror.

Step 3

Soak a paper towel with vinegar, and use it to clean and polish your mirror.

Old, Dried-On Paint

Step 1

Slip on a pair of rubber or latex gloves.

Step 2

Open a tub or bucket of N-methyl pyrrolidone-based paint-stripping paste.

Step 3

Apply a thin layer of NMP-based paint stripper over the dried paint on your mirror, using a disposable brush. Allow the stripper two hours to soften the old paint.

Step 4

Slide a plastic putty knife under the NMP paste, and gently pull the paint and paste mixture away from the mirror. Repeat until all the paint has been removed.

Step 5

Soak a paper towel with vinegar, and use it to clean and polish your mirror.


Mike Matthews

Mike Matthews is editor of Green Building Product News, a national publication that covers sustainable innovations in building and remodeling, and he has spoken at national conferences on green building. He has also served as founding editor of "Paint Dealer" magazine.