Recipe for Using Vinegar for Dried Paint Removal

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Hand pouring liquid from jug into measuring cup on wooden countertop

Things You'll Need

  • White distilled vinegar

  • Small saucepan or microwaveable bowl

  • Paintbrush or sponge

  • Cloth

  • Paint scraper

Vinegar is a staple in most kitchen pantries, most often used to make pickles or combined with oil for flavorful vinaigrette salad dressing. However, if you're limiting vinegar to the kitchen, you're missing out on hundreds of household uses. Vinegar is an easy, inexpensive and effective way to remove dried, stuck-on paint from windows and other hard surfaces. Most importantly, vinegar is economical, environmentally friendly and removes stubborn paint with absolutely no dangerous chemicals or toxic fumes. If you don't like the aroma of vinegar, don't worry. The vinegary smell soon dissipates.


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Step 1

Heat a small amount of white distilled vinegar in a small saucepan. Alternatively, place the vinegar in a microwaveable bowl, and heat it in the microwave oven.

Step 2

Dip a clean paintbrush or a sponge in the hot vinegar. Dab the vinegar on the dried paint.

Step 3

Allow the vinegar to soften the paint for 10 to 15 minutes. If the paint is still stuck-on, reapply hot vinegar.

Step 4

Remove the loosened paint with a paint scraper. Wipe the surface with a damp cloth to remove the vinegar and traces of paint.


If you forgot to clean a paintbrush and water-based paint has dried in the bristles, don't discard the brush. Instead, soak the paintbrush in vinegar for about an hour. Fill a saucepan with enough vinegar to cover the bristles. Put the brush in the vinegar, and then bring the vinegar to a simmer. Remove the loosened paint with your fingers, and then rinse the brush under cool water. Repeat if necessary.

If you've used paint stripper to remove paint from a brick surface and traces of paint still remain, use vinegar to remove the paint residue. Saturate a cloth or sponge with hot vinegar, then wipe the bricks.