How to Remove Paint from Plastic Car Bumper

With the amount of cash, you committed to acquiring the car, learning how to remove paint from the bumpers is helpful; otherwise, the mechanics will drain your pockets. There is nothing as bad as a careless driver running into your car, leaving your bumpers scratched, especially plastic bumpers.

The article explains to you how to remove paint from plastic car bumpers using;

  • Rubbing compound
  • Sandpaper
  • Commercial adhesive removers
  • WD-40

How to paint plastic car bumpers

How to Remove Paint from Plastic Car Bumper

Removing paint from a plastic car bumper is easy. Wash with soap and water, then apply either rubbing compound, scratch remover, or wax using a microfiber cloth. If this does not work, apply WD-40 to help remove the paint. Use the magic eraser to remove excess paint, and lastly, complete with fine polish and detailer paint.

Let’s get on with more details.

How to Remove Paint from Plastic Car Bumper

It is an easy process with the right steps and materials

Supplies You Will Need

  • Soap Water
  • Rubbing Compound
  • Scratch Remover
  • Gloves
  • Soft Cloth
  • WD-40
  • Magic Eraser

The Steps

Step 1: Wash the bumper using water and soap

Before removing paint from the bumper, wash the affected area or the whole car using soap and water and dry it.

Dust particles may scratch the bumper if the car is dirty. Also, check if the chemicals you are planning to use are appropriate since certain chemicals may strip the paint off the paint if used improperly.

Step 2: Apply Scratch Remover and Rubbing Compound

After removing the dust particles, apply the rubbing compound using a soft cloth and rub the compound gently on the plastic bumper.

For minor plastic bumper paints, you can apply scratch remover as it will be effective compared to the rubbing compound.

I recommend Goof Off or a lacquer thinner for chrome bumpers.

If this method fails, proceed to step 3

Step 3: Apply spray on WD-40

Use WD-40 if rubbing compound or scratch remover fails to remove the paint. Many professionals have considered WD-40 a good alternative to remove paint from light plastic surfaces as well as dried paint from plastic bumpers.

I recommend Aerosol WD-40 spray as it has helped me in the past. Try your luck!

WD-40 may not work on the first attempt. Repeat the process a few times to achieve the desired outcome.

Step 4: Use Magic Eraser

If you are still experiencing complications even after applying WD-40, use a magic eraser. After applying the second WD-40, allow it to weaken the stuck-on paint.  Use a clean magic eraser to wipe off the paint.

Magic eraser has an abrasive surface, so be careful to avoid scratching unintended parts of the bumper.

Step 5: Finish With Polish and a Detailer Paint

Once you have removed all the paint, apply polish to wipe away the paint residues leftover by the Rubbing compound or WD-40.

Polish is a better alternative to remove residues left behind by the compounds. You can also apply wax as it works best in merging the repainted area with the rest of your car.

Paint the affected area with a clear detailing spray as the final step.

NOTE: You may not use all the products and steps recommended. It all relies on the density of the paint.

Ensure to wear protective gear such as gloves and masks as the chemicals suggested above may be harmful to the human body. They may cause skin irritation and breathing complications.

How to Remove Paint from a Plastic Bumper Using Commercial Adhesive Remover

Commercial adhesive removers are a better alternative when planning to remove paint from your plastic car bumper. You can acquire adhesive removers from the hardware stores near you.

I recommend Goo Gone and 3M Adhesive Remover. However, there are several others that you can pick.

Supplies You Will Need 

  • Adhesive Remover
  • Soft Cloth
  • Gloves
  • Polish

The Steps

  1. Test the adhesive remover in an inconspicuous bumper area to ensure the remover is less detrimental to the paint or bumper. However, such problems are least anticipated.
  2. Apply a little adhesive remover to a soft cloth. You can as well use one of your old T-shirts.
  3. Rub the soft cloth containing adhesive remover on the affected area of the plastic bumper. As you continue rubbing firmly, you will notice the paint beginning to lift off.
  4. Add more adhesive to the cloth as you continue rubbing until all the paint on the affected area is removed.
  5. Once you have a clean surface, you can use polish to remove the adhesive’s residues.
  6. Paint a new coat on the surface to give it a clean finish.

How to Remove Paint from a Plastic Bumper Using Rubbing Compound

Rubbing compound works best on deep and light paint scratches. When you see paint scratch on your car, assess if it’s a light or deep scratch.

If the scratch is light, you can use the rubbing compound by itself, but it may require you to sand the plastic bumper if the scratch is deep.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Rubbing compound
  • Wax
  • Soft fabric cloths
  • Water
  • Soap

The Steps

Step 1: Clean the Plastic Bumper

Clean the affected area with soap and water. After washing, rinse the surface using clean water and dry it up using a dry towel.

You may as well wash the whole car as dust particles may cause more harm when using the rubbing compound.

Step 2: Apply the Rubbing Compound

Apply a sufficient amount of rubbing compound on a soft microfiber towel and firmly rub it on the affected area. Maintain adequate pressure as you apply the rubbing alcohol to cover every part of the affected area in a circular motion.

As you continue to rub, you will notice the paint coming off. Repeat the process until you lift off all the paint.

You can also spread the rubbing alcohol using a buffing machine.

  • Place a wool pad at the center of the orbital polisher.
  • Apply a tiny coat of rubbing compound over the affected area
  • Set the orbital polisher over the affected area to spread the rubbing compound effectively.

Step 3: Remove Rubbing Compound from the Affected Area

After you have removed all the paint, use a clean towel to clear off excess rubbing compound on the surface.

Step 4: Polishing, Painting, and Waxing

After wiping out the rubbing compound, you can take a wool pad and polish the affected area. You can as well bypass this section.

It is advisable to paint a coat to the affected area since the surface often appears uneven after removing paint, so painting allows it to blend well with the rest of the car. Waxing strengthens the blending and provides a clean finish.

How to Remove Paint from a Plastic Bumper Using WD-40

WD-40 is a strong organic compound that contains complex hydrocarbon that loosens the molecular bonds in paints, thus allowing an effortless removal.

Wd-40 can remove paint from plastic, metal, walls, automotive parts, wood, and other surfaces without damage.

Supplies you Will Need

  • WD-40 Solvent
  • Soap Detergent
  • Scraper
  • Clean Rag
  • Water
  • Paint Brush
  • Sponge
  • Gloves

The Steps

  1. Clean the car bumper using a paintbrush. You may also use a soap and water
  2. Administer a test to determine the efficiency of WD-40 on the surface. If efficient, proceed.
  3. Spray a sufficient WD-40 on the affected area and leave to penetrate for three to six minutes. It will form a thick sticky fluid.
  4. Strip off the sticky fluid using a scraper and wipe with a paintbrush
  5. Dip a sponge in soapy water and clean the bumper. Cleaning the surface helps to clear off any traces of WD-40 left behind.
  6. Use a damp piece of cloth and wipe off the surface to dry.

You may not achieve the desired outcome on the first attempt. Repeat the process for the best results.

Note: The amount of WD-40 to apply depends on the thickness of the paint. Drop testing will help you evaluate the amount to use.

Precautions When Removing Paint Using WD-40

  1. Clean the plastic surface to allow for faster penetration
  2. Wear respirators or nose masks and hand gloves to avert nasal and skin irritation
  3. Perform a drop test to evaluate the efficiency of WD-40 on the car bumper
  4. Ensure your workstation is well ventilated since petroleum-based WD-40 is flammable and may cause a fire.
  5. Clean the WD-40 immediately after removing the paint as it may penetrate to other unintended surfaces and cause damage.

How to Remove Paint from Plastic Car Bumper by Sanding

Sanding involves using sandpaper to remove paint from a plastic bumper. While this may be the hardest of all methods, you can be sure the paint will lift off.

Use 180 grit sandpaper on orbital sander because lesser grit sands paper will leave some hair-like structures on the surface, making it difficult to cover the surface using primer.

It is advisable to do wet sanding as opposed to dry sanding. Dry sanding may scrape off excess paint against your will.

The sanding may take a long depending on your bumper size and the affected area. Be sure it will take longer than using solvents such as rubbing compounds.

How to Paint Plastic Car Bumpers

After learning how to remove paint from plastic car bumps, how about if we learn how to repaint the plastic car bump to blend with the rest of the car? I guess you are down.

Supplies You Will Need

  • Paint Prep Product
  • Microfiber Towel
  • Paint Gun
  • Base Coat Paint
  • Clearcoat Paint

The Steps

Step 1: Clean the Car Bumper Using Paint Prep Product

Cleaning the surface removes the dust particles that might complicate paint blending. Install Bay’s Acrysol Paint Preparation. Wipe the surface clean using a clean microfiber towel.

Step 2: Apply the Main Base Coat

The base coat represents the color that others will see after painting. Set the paint gun above the car bumper, making sure it’s 9-12 inches above the surface. Make numerous passes to cover the whole bumper while maintaining a light coat.

The base paint is applied in three coats, so repeat the process two more times.

Step 3: Apply a Clearcoat Layer of Paint

Follow the same process as applying base paint. You should apply three coats and allow the paint to dry for six hours.

You can use Transtar MAX Clearcoat or True Finish Urethane Clearcoat.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Remove Paint from Plastic Car Parts?

Add acetone to a clean cloth and rub it thoroughly on the car part. The acetone will dry easily, leaving the surface without dust particles or debris. When you notice it has dried, you can paint.

Can Vinegar Ruin Car Paint?

Do not use vinegar on car paint because it will turn dull and damage the paint. Vinegar is appropriate for cleaning interior parts of a car. However, please do not allow it to dry on the surface, wipe it off immediately using a microfiber towel.

Does Windex Damage Car Paint?

Avoid using Windex on car paint. Windex strips away the paint, and you will notice parts of the paint chipping or falling off the car.

Bottom Line

Removing paint from a plastic car bumper is not rocket science. It all depends on your resources and time. Using solvents is easy and fast compared to sanding down, which is time-consuming and tedious.

Either way, this knowledge is imperative towards achieving the best outcome. Consider the precautions.