How To Remove Paint From Kitchen Sink: 3 Proven Methods

Whether you’ve stained your kitchen sink while touching up your kitchen cabinets or look for ways to clean a laundry or garage utility sink, one of the hardest parts is getting rid of those stubborn paint stains. Latex and acrylic paint stains are generally easy to deal with. The opposite is true for epoxy or solvent-based products. Nevertheless, all paint stains can be removed.

Solvents like turpentine, acetone, denatured alcohol, and, in some cases, paint stripper is your answers to how to remove paint from utility sink quickly and effortlessly. Homemade remedies, such as white vinegar and baking soda, are other powerful allies. Or you could use WD-40.

Items Required

Removing paint from sinks is daunting, especially if the paint has dried or if the stains have been left unattended for a long time. That said, there are ways to remove them without too much elbow grease. Just gather the things listed below.

  • Denatured alcohol (for water-based paint)
  • Turpentine (solvent-based paint)
  • Lacquer thinner (solvent-based paint)
  • Paint stripper (all paint types, composite sinks)
  • Acetone (optional)
  • White vinegar (optional)
  • Baking soda (optional)
  • Abrasive sponge
  • Steel wool
  • Paint scraper 
  • Plastic putty knife
  • Rags 
  • Rubber gloves
  • Face mask with respirator
  • Goggles 
  • Cotton swabs

Removing Paint From Different Kitchen Sinks

Once you’ve gathered all tools and materials, you can proceed with removing paint from your utility sink. The products to use and method could change from one type of sink to another, so check out the specific method for your sink type below.

Stainless Steel Sink

Stainless steel sinks are incredibly resistant and easy to sanitize; that’s why most homeowners choose this type of sink for their kitchens, garages, and laundry rooms. They have a major downside, though: they are very easy to scratch. 

That’s why you should never use anything abrasive, like steel wool or a metal paint scraper, to remove paint from stainless steel. Follow the quick steps below instead.

Step 1 – Find out what type of paint-stained the sink

Knowing what you’re dealing with is key to the successful removal of paint off your stainless steel sink. To do that, grab a cotton swab and dip in its denatured alcohol (or white vinegar if you want to try a natural remedy first). 

Rub the soaked swab vigorously onto the paint stain and take a look at it. If it’s smeared, you’re dealing with water-based paint (latex or acrylic). If it’s clean, your sink is stained with solvent-based paint.

Step 2 – Clean the stain with denatured alcohol or turpentine

Put on the protective equipment, open all the windows and doors, then soak a clean rag in denatured alcohol (water-based paint) or turpentine (solvent-based paint). 

Place the rag over the stain and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. After this time, pour some more solvent onto the rag and rub the stain. If it starts to come off easily, keep rubbing until you remove it. Otherwise, place the rag over the stain and leave it for another 10-15 minutes. 

Keep in mind that both denatured alcohol and turpentine are highly volatile, meaning that they evaporate fast. For this reason, it is easier to cover the stain with a rag soaked in the substance rather than applying it with a brush. You should also check the cloth constantly to make sure it’s damp for the whole time.

Step 3 – Clean a stubborn solvent-based paint stain with lacquer thinner

If turpentine didn’t do the trick, you could use the same method to remove the stain with lacquer thinner. Lacquer thinner is made of acetone and other solvents, so if you don’t have lacquer thinner at hand but have acetone or acetone-based nail polish remover, you could try that instead.

Soak a soft sponge or rag in the solvent and rub the stain vigorously. Keep rubbing until it comes off, then rinse with abundant clean water.

Step 4 – Use paint stripper 

If the stain didn’t come off, or you’re trying to remove epoxy paint (which hardens like an enamel), you can pull out the heavy guns and use a paint stripper. 

Apply the product over the stain with a paintbrush and let it sit for the time instructed on the package. The stripper has worked when the bubbling stops. At this stage, use a blunt, plastic putty knife to remove the paint.

Step 5 – Clean the sink

Once you’re done, rinse the sink with abundant clean water, then wash it with dish soap. Rinse again with white vinegar and baking soda to remove all chemical traces, rinse, and dry with a clean rag.

Plastic Utility Sink

Plastic utility sinks are not made of common plastic: they’re either made of acrylic or composite. The paint removal methods are the same as above, but the products to use can vary based on the sink’s material.

Acrylic sinks 

Acrylic is an inexpensive and resistant material, but the surface is porous and gets stained easily. Stains are also harder to remove once they set in. To remove paint stains: 

  1. Determine the type of paint as explained above.
  2. Soak the stain in denatured alcohol if the paint is water-based or turpentine or spray lubricant (WD-40) if it is solvent-based. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Use a plastic putty knife to scrub away the paint. If the paint layer is too thick, soak and try to remove it again.
  4. Clean the sink with dish soap, then use white vinegar and baking soda to clean it completely. Rinse with abundant water when you’re done.

Composite sinks

Composite sinks are not made of only plastic but of a blend of plastic resins and minerals. They often mimic the beauty of natural stone; the surface is non-porous and easy to clean. Water-based paint stains generally come off easily, but you might have to use a paint stripper for solvent-based paints.

  1. Use a razor blade to carefully remove the smaller drops of paint. Most paint stains “chip off” the granite surface without effort.
  2. Put on the protective equipment and apply a paint stripper over the stain with a paintbrush. Leave it for as long as instructed on the package until the bubbling stops.
  3. Use a paint scraper to remove the paint from the composite surface, then rinse and clean as explained above.

Porcelain Sink

Porcelain is one of the most resilient materials, and you can try any of the methods above to remove paint stains. After you’ve applied the solvent or paint stripper, you can use steel wool to scrub over the paint and remove it faster.

How To Dissolve Paint In Drain

Washing your paintbrushes in the sink is never a good idea, but what if you did it and now your drain is clogged? Or perhaps an accident happened, and the paint spilled down the drain? Here are ways to dissolve it.

Clean water-based paint from the P-trap

Water-based paint is water-soluble, so it will unlikely clog your drain pipe. However, if you accidentally tipped off a full can of paint and it went down the drain, some of it may have clogged the P-trap.

Use adjustable pliers and a bucket to take the trap off, then use a bent clothes hanger or a plumber’s snake to remove as much paint as possible. Place the trap in a bucket full of water and let it soaked for a few hours. 

This should dissolve the paint. Once you’ve removed the paint, rinse the P-trap with clean water and install it back.

Clean solvent-based paint from the drain

Solvent-based paint is not water-soluble and is near impossible to remove from pipes and drains if it has dried. You could try to remove it if you’ve just spilled a can by pouring an appropriate solvent down the drain.

If the paint is dry, you could use a plumber’s snake to remove as much paint as possible. However, you’ll likely have to change the drain.

You should also remember that solvents and solvent-based paint are bad for the environment, so you should never wash your brushes in the sink. Use a basin or bucket to clean them, then use newspapers to soak the water and dispose of the paint residues in the bin.

Frequently Asked Questions

You now know how to remove paint from the kitchen sink but still have questions? Find out some answers below.

Does acrylic paint clog drains?

Acrylic paint is water-based, and it doesn’t generally clog drains as long as you wash it off with plenty of water. However, you should avoid washing any paint down the sink drain.

Does vinegar damage stainless steel?

Concentrated vinegar can ruin stainless steel if left to soak for more than a few minutes. However, you can use diluted vinegar safely. If you want to stay on the safe side, remove paint from stainless steel with denatured alcohol or a solvent.

What should you not use on stainless steel?

You should never use abrasive products, such as metal paint scrapers, knives, steel wool, etc. These items will scratch and damage the surface.

Next Steps

Removing paint from utility sinks isn’t complicated, but the procedure is daunting. The easiest way to avoid this situation is by preventing paint from staining sinks in the first place. Learn how to dispose of paint and clean your brushes properly. Moreover, always cover the sink with drop cloths when painting in its vicinity. 

Have you ever dealt with stubborn paint marks on your sink? How did you remove them? Tell us in a comment.

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