How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Pottery – Pottery Made Easy!

  • By: homeshacks
  • Date: March 23, 2023
  • Time to read: 9 min.
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Since acrylic paint is water-based, it’s easier to remove from pottery than ceramic glazes. To remove acrylic paint, we can use mechanical or chemical-based paint removal methods. 

Pottery painted with acrylic paint can be gorgeous and add a splash of color to any room, but what if you want to remove that paint and start anew? Removing paint from pottery can be difficult because of how fragile pottery is, but with the right steps, you can have your pottery paint-free in no time. 

Let’s look at how to remove acrylic paint from pottery.

Can You Remove Acrylic Paint From Ceramic?

Yes, you can remove acrylic paint from ceramic. It’s easier to remove acrylic paint from ceramic if it hasn’t been sealed. 

We know that acrylic paint can be removed from ceramic, but there are a few factors determining which method of removal will work best and how easy it will be. The type of ceramic, whether the acrylic paint is sealed, and whether or not the ceramic has been fired will all be factored in the ease of paint removal.

Types of Ceramics and Acrylic Paint Removal

There are two main types of ceramics; those that are made from clay, and those that are not. Clay is more absorbent than other types of ceramics, and before it is fired, it is very water-soluble. This means that, while acrylic paint can still be removed from clay pottery, some dyes from that paint may have permanently stained the clay, especially if the clay has never been fired.

Ceramics that are not made from clay are less absorbent, making it easier to remove paint from them. They also hold up better to paint removal techniques involving water if they haven’t been fired. Both clay and non-clay ceramics are water-resistant when they have been fired.

Sealed Acrylic Paint Removal 

It’s important to note that acrylic paint should never be fired in a kiln. Not only will the paint not hold up to the heat, but it can also release toxic fumes and even catch on fire under the right conditions!

This means any ceramics that are painted with acrylics have been sealed, not fired. Sealants are basically another coat of clear paint that helps to maintain the colored paint underneath. Most sealants that are used with acrylic paint can be removed, but it will take a little more effort than removing non-sealed acrylic paint.

Fired Ceramics and Acrylic Paint Removal

Ceramics are actually fired twice; once before they are glazed, and one afterward. Acrylic paint can be applied after either firing, but once the paint has been applied, the ceramic cannot be fired again. 

Ceramics that have not been fired are called greenware, and at this point, they are not actually considered ceramics at all. We can paint greenware with acrylics, but it is very fragile, and trying to remove paint from greenware will most likely damage the item.

It is easier to remove acrylic paint after the first firing, known as the bisque firing, but at this point, the ceramic hasn’t been glazed and won’t be as smooth to the touch or as strong.

If you’re removing acrylic paint from ceramics, it’s usually from glazed ceramics. Glazed ceramics are ceramics that are finished and are much less porous. This will make painting them with acrylics harder, but removing the acrylic paint is much easier.

Watch How You Can Remove Acrylic Paint With Alcohol!

How to Remove Paint From Pottery

Acrylic paint might not be the typical type of paint to find on pottery, but the good news is, acrylic paint is actually easier to remove from pottery than other types of paint! 

Since acrylic paint is water-based and doesn’t bond well to finished ceramics, it can be removed without much effort. You may even notice the acrylic paint flaking off of the pottery on its own before you even start the removal process. 

There are 3 ways to remove acrylic paint from pottery:

  • Mechanically
  • With soap and water
  • With paint removing chemicals

Mechanically Removing Acrylic Paint

Surprisingly, pottery is pretty tough once it’s been glazed. This means removing acrylic paint mechanically, which means by physical means, can get the paint off without damaging the ceramic itself. 

There are a few different ways to mechanically remove paint, including using sandpaper and a paint scraper. Sometimes you can even remove all the paint just by flaking it off!

When using sandpaper, just be careful to not rub it hard enough to damage the glaze on the pottery underneath. If used incorrectly, sandpaper can scratch the ceramic, which can cause future layers of paint to not lay right over the scratched areas. 

Also, make sure to only use sandpaper in a well-ventilated area while wearing a mask. Breathing in any sort of paint dust is bad news! If you’re using a paint scraper, use a smaller one so you can get all the nooks and crannies of the pottery. Acrylic paint in pottery will be brittle and should come off easily when scraped. 

For any hard-to-reach areas of the pottery, a firm bristled toothbrush can also be used to scrub the paint away. 

Removing Acrylic with Soap and Water

Since acrylic paint doesn’t bond too well to ceramics, simple soap and water can remove acrylic paint. Don’t use scented soaps or any soaps with included moisturizers, especially if you plan on repainting the pottery later. Additives can make future layers of paint not adhere correctly. 

To remove the acrylic money with soap and water, follow these steps:

  1. Use a simple soap like Dawn and a cloth or sponge. Abrasive sponges or scrub pads are fine. Just be careful not to scratch the glaze underneath the acrylic paint. 
  2. If possible, wash the paint off with the warm soap and water without completely submerging the ceramic. Most ceramics are completely impervious to water, but if there’s any doubt, it’s better to be safe than sorry! 
  3. Wash the pottery until the paint flakes away or dissolves. 
  4. After the paint is gone, change the water out for clean water and wash the pottery one more time. 
  5. Pat the pottery dry with a soft cloth and let it completely air dry the rest of the way before attempting to paint it again.

If you are positive that your ceramic is completely sealed, you can leave it to soak for up to 24 hours in water to help soften and remove acrylic paint.

Removing Acrylic Paint with Paint Remover

Paint remover will absolutely remove acrylic paint from pottery, but paint removers also come with downsides like fumes and skin irritation. 

Using protection like gloves, eye protection, and a mask is incredibly important when working with paint remover, so make sure you have these items on hand before starting your paint removal process. 

Follow these steps to remove acrylic paint with paint remover:

  1. After you have donned your protection, get an old cloth (cut up old shirts can work well for this) and the paint thinner. 
  2. Saturate the cloth with the paint thinner and rub the acrylic paint you want to remove in a circular motion until the paint is gone. 
  3. Rinse the area with clean water once all the paint is removed. 
  4. Before using paint stripper, you can follow the same steps with denatured alcohol. If the denatured alcohol does the job, you can skip the paint thinner altogether.

How to Remove Spray Paint From Pottery

Spray paint is often sprayed on in much thinner layers than other types of paint and can be harder to remove than acrylic paint. 

To get spray paint off, you may need to skip right to trying denatured alcohol or paint remover to get the paint off of the pottery. Unlike acrylic paint, it doesn’t chip off, so it’s difficult to remove manually. 

If you don’t have denatured alcohol or paint remover on hand, you can try isopropyl alcohol and acetone (nail polish remover). Before trying any paint removal method, test it on a small area of the pottery to ensure you don’t damage the entire piece if the technique doesn’t work correctly.

How Do You Get Dried Acrylic Paint Off?

To get dried acrylic paint off of pottery, you may not even have to do anything except flake it off with your fingers! Acrylic paint isn’t meant to be permanent on ceramics, so it’s easier to remove than other types of paints or glazes by definition. 

Dried acrylic paint is a little harder to remove than wet acrylic paint, which can simply be wiped off with warm water, but even dried it can be removed with just soap and water. It just may take more of your time. 

If you don’t want to scrape the dry paint off, trying washing the acrylic paint off with soap and warm water. If you’re absolutely sure that your piece of pottery is glazed, you can even submerge it in water and let it soak until the paint dissolves away.

How Do You Remove Dried Paint From Ceramic?

Removing acrylic paint is relatively easy, but other types of paint can be more problematic to remove from ceramic. 

To remove dried paint, start with gentler methods like soap and water or light sanding. If the paint doesn’t budge, it might be time to move on to more drastic paint removal techniques. 

Denatured alcohol and acetone can remove paint from ceramics without damaging the glaze or the ceramic piece itself, but they can irritate the skin, eyes, and lungs. Use protective measures when trying these chemicals! 

If this doesn’t work, it’s time to bring out the serious stuff: paint remover! Paint remover, also known as paint thinner, will remove almost many paint with ease. Unfortunately, it smells pretty awful, is flammable, and can cause skin irritation. Paint remover will get the job done, just use it with caution. 

The glaze on the pottery should be unaffected because, unlike other types of paint, the glaze is baked onto the pottery. This makes it impervious to water and most paint removers. 

On the off chance, the paint remover affects the glaze of your pottery, you’ll be able to feel the difference right away. Unglazed pottery is rougher to the touch, while glazed pottery is smooth like glass.

Will Vinegar Remove Acrylic Paint?

Yes, vinegar can be beneficial when removing acrylic paint, but not as effective as other chemicals. 

On the upside, vinegar is completely safe, unlike some other chemicals used to remove paint, and is all-natural. Vinegar is usually mixed in a solution with water and used to remove dried, stuck-on paint when soap and water won’t cut it. 

The only downside is that vinegar isn’t that much more effective than soap and water alone. We have used vinegar as a cleaning agent for centuries, but it doesn’t actually dissolve or remove the acrylic paint from pottery. Instead, it works to soften the paint until it comes off or can be removed by other methods. 

White vinegar is preferred, but in a pinch, you can use apple cider vinegar as well. 

To use vinegar when removing acrylic paint, follow these steps:

  1. Mix the vinegar with water in equal parts.
  2. Use a sponge or cloth to saturate the acrylic paint with the vinegar solution. You want the paint to be very damp so it can soften.
  3. Once the paint has softened, you should be able to peel it off with your fingers or rub it off with the cloth. If that doesn’t work, try scrubbing the paint with a dry washcloth; this should be abrasive enough to remove the paint.
  4. Remove any lingering pieces of acrylic paint with a firm bristled toothbrush. Allow the pottery to air dry.
In Conclusion

Acrylic paint, a water-based paint, can be removed from ceramics and pottery. Getting this paint off can be as easy as flaking it off with your hands, but if the paint is stubborn, you might have to turn to more labor-intensive techniques. 

Mechanical removal, soap and water, paint removers, and even vinegar can remove acrylic paint from the surface of your pottery. If you use caution and work carefully, you can have your pottery paint-free in no time!

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