How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete – Complete Guide

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Maybe you were a little shy with the painter’s tape, or maybe those pesky neighborhood vandals have been at it again. However it happened, unwanted spray paint can be very tricky to remove from concrete surfaces. This article will help you better understand the nature of these two materials, as well as guide you through the different methods of removing spray paint from concrete.



The Nature of Spray Paint

Spray paint or aerosol paint is most commonly found in pressurized containers. The paint is released in a fine mist through a valve, applying multiple layers in fast succession. This is a much quicker technique than other application methods such as paintbrushes or rollers. Spray paint also provides a more even coating and tends to dry much faster than other paints.

Looking at How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete


Types of Spray Paint

There are many different types of spray paint on the market, some of which are much easier to remove from concrete than others. Getting to know a few of the different types should help you to understand how to remove spray paint from concrete.

Latex-based spray paint is water-based, which makes removing it from concrete relatively easy. A mixture of warm water and dish soap should do the trick! However, oil-based spray paint, such as enamel spray paint, may require chemicals and a more aggressive scrub.

When trying to remove spray paint from concrete, you may not have the luxury of knowing what spray paint you are dealing with, in which case you may have to try a few methods of removal and see what works.



The Nature of Concrete

You will notice the pores of a concrete surface by looking closely; they look like little holes in the surface. This allows concrete to be vapor-permeable or, in other words, breathable. This is a contributing factor to concrete’s strength and is why it can last a long time. However, it can also make cleaning very difficult.

How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete Completely


What Is Concrete Made of?

Concrete is made by mixing coarse sand or gravel with water and cement. The porosity of the concrete depends largely on the size of the particles of sand or gravel used, as well as the gradation of the particles. Gradation refers to how uniform the particles are in relation to one another, and this is directly related to the concrete’s porosity. Concrete that is more porous will contain particles of varying sizes, whereas less porous, compacted concrete will contain particles that are more uniform in size.


Why Does Porosity Matter?

The more porous the concrete, the better it is for the paint to penetrate and grip onto, as it increases the strength of the bond between the paint and concrete. However, this also means that the more porous the concrete, the more difficult it is to clean. Concrete that has been sealed can be a lot easier to clean, as the sealer makes the concrete less porous. Some concrete sealers have even been designed to resist stains.

Be careful when attempting to remove spray paint from sealed concrete, however, as you do not want to damage the surface by removing the concrete sealer along with the spray paint.



Specialized Products

Luckily for us, there are also products specifically designed for removing spray paint from concrete. Some of them are usually referred to and marketed as graffiti removers. Some products act as a defense against graffiti, and there are also environmentally friendly paint strippers available. Read further to find out more about some of the specialized products that come highly recommended.

How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete with Different Products



How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete with Household Items

Now that we have a better understanding of the products available on the market, you may find yourself wondering how to remove spray paint from concrete with household items instead. In this section, we will take a look at some tried-and-tested methods for removing spray paint from concrete.

Keep in mind that if you are dealing with water-based spray paint on a polished concrete floor, you will likely have an easier job of cleaning up than if you are trying to remove old, oil-based spray paint from an unsealed concrete surface.


Whatever type of paint or concrete you are dealing with, it is advisable to begin with the first method and then to move onto the next only if necessary. The following methods are organized from the cheapest and easiest (soap and water) to the most demanding and aggressive (grinding).


Method 1: Soap and Water

Washing the spray-painted area of concrete with soap and water is not only ideal for water-based spray paints, but also for freshly sprayed paint. It is also worth trying on dried oil-based paint, as it may be more effective than you expect. It is always best to start with this method as it is affordable and requires no special skills, although you may have to put in some elbow grease.

How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete with Soap


What You Will Need

  • Stiff-bristled scrubbing brush
  • 1-gallon bucket of warm water
  • Dish soap
  • Absorbent towel
  • Garden hose and water supply (optional)
  • Vinegar (optional)



Fill the bucket with warm water and add a generous squirt of dish soap. It is best to wet the surface first before you take the warm soapy water and a brush to the surface. You can do this with a garden hose, but you may want to use a mop if you are indoors so as to avoid flooding the area.

Scrub the affected area with warm, soapy water in a circular motion. This should begin to loosen the paint from the surface. Then, rinse the concrete with fresh water and dab on the concrete with a clean towel to dry the area.

Adding some white vinegar to the soapy water could increase the potency of the solution, but be very careful, as this may damage the coating of sealed concrete. If it seems to be working, repeat this process a few more times. If spray paint still remains on the surface, then you can move on to the next method.


  • Affordable
  • Effective in removing certain spray paints
  • No heavy machinery required
  • No harsh chemicals required
  • Eco-friendly


  • Requires elbow grease
  • Not effective on tougher spots of dried spray paint
  • Not effective on very porous concrete


Method 2: Trisodium Phosphate (TSP)

TSP, also called sugar soap, is an extremely powerful cleaning agent that has been the first choice for cleaning interiors as well as exteriors for decades. It can be very effective in removing spray paint from concrete and it is very simple to use.

Care needs to be taken when dealing with TSP, however, as it is a harsh chemical that is not good for the environment, and it can cause skin and eye irritation. There may be restrictions that limit your use of TSP, so be sure to check local regulations.

How to Remove Spray Paint from Concrete with Household Items


What You Will Need

  • TSP (sugar soap)
  • Stiff-bristled brush
  • 1-gallon bucket of warm water
  • Goggles or face shield
  • Gloves
  • Respirator
  • Full-coverage clothing



After making sure that you have donned the correct safety equipment, mix up the TSP according to the instructions on the box. If you are using TSP in powder form, you can mix ¼ cup to 1 gallon of water, which is an ideal ratio for heavy-duty cleaning.

Just as we did with the soap and water solution, apply the solution to the spray-painted concrete with a stiff-bristled brush and scrub in a circular motion.

Leaving the solution on the surface for 30 minutes before rinsing will allow the TSP to work its magic on the spray paint. This process may need to be repeated a couple of times to remove all the spray paint. If you are dealing with a larger area of concrete, swap out the 1-gallon bucket for a larger one and increase the ratio accordingly.


  • Affordable
  • Widely available
  • Easy to use
  • No heavy equipment needed
  • No need to hire experts


  • TSP can irritate the eyes and skin
  • Not environmentally friendly
  • Local restrictions may apply
  • Can damage surfaces like glass, steel, and grout


Method 3: Power Wash

A power washer or a pressure washer is a great cleaning tool for a variety of tough surfaces like concrete, and it also uses far less water than a regular garden hose. The power washer and pressure washer differ slightly in that the power washer uses heated water and pressure whereas the pressure washer uses only pressure to clean. As you might have guessed, the added heat from a power washer will be more effective when it comes to removing spray paint from concrete.

How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete with a Pressure Washer


What You Will Need

  • Power washer or pressure washer (recommended psi of 3000)
  • Detergent (optional)
  • Goggles (recommended)



To remove spray paint from concrete, it is recommended that your power washer has a flow rate of above 4 GPM (gallons per minute). It is important to note that industrial high-pressure cleaners can be extremely strong and could damage concrete.

Once you have dialed in your pressure washer and selected the nozzle according to the manufacturer’s instructions, give the concrete a good blast. It is best to test it on an area of the concrete that is out of sight – from a distance at first – and then moving closer incrementally as needed. Move methodically and slowly from top to bottom in a sweeping motion. Continue going over the affected area to remove all the spray paint. A degreaser or a detergent can be used in conjunction with a power washer to help lift the spray paint from the concrete.


  • Uses less water than a garden hose
  • Effective in removing spray paint from concrete


  • Light-duty power washers are less effective than industrial ones
  • Industrial power washers are expensive
  • You may need to hire a professional
  • High-end power washers can be dangerous if not used correctly


Method 4: Paint Stripper or Solvents

If simple household detergents are simply not working, it is time to bring out the big guns. Solvents such as acetone, paint thinner, denatured alcohol, and turpentine can be effective in softening spray paint, making it easier to remove from concrete.

Not to be confused with paint thinner, paint stripper is also a solvent but, as the name suggests, it is specially formulated for removing paint from hard surfaces.

Paint stripper and other solvents can be very effective in softening paint, making it easier to remove from concrete, but care needs to be taken when working with these chemicals as they can be harmful to you and those around you.

How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete with Solvents


What You Will Need

  • Paint stripper or solvent of choice
  • Cheap paintbrush
  • Wire brush or stiff-bristled brush
  • Gloves
  • Respirator
  • Garden hose (if you are working outdoors) or a bucket of water (if you are working indoors)
  • Sponge



With a paintbrush, apply the paint stripper or solvent to the spray-painted areas of concrete. If you are using a paint stripper, let it sit for 30 minutes or longer. The paint may begin to bubble, which is a good indication that the paint stripper is beginning to lift the paint from the concrete. However, tougher spray paint may require a bit of persuasion, in which case use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub the area in a circular motion until the paint is removed.

If you are using a solvent, you will have to scrub immediately, as solvents tend to evaporate quite quickly.

Once you have removed the paint, rinse the concrete with water and a sponge or, if you are outside, a garden hose will work too. If you have opted to use a wire brush, be very careful, as this could damage the surface of the concrete. It is also important to note that if you are trying to remove spray paint from sealed concrete, it is best to avoid using paint stripper and other chemicals, as this too can damage the surface.


  • Very effective
  • Affordable
  • Easy to use
  • No heavy machinery required
  • No professional help required


  • Requires protective equipment to be worn
  • Can burn skin
  • Toxic fumes
  • Can damage concrete coatings


Method 5: Grinding

Using a grinder should be a last resort, especially if you have not had much experience with one. Using a grinder is risky, but it can be very effective when it comes to removing spray paint from concrete. If you are going to attempt using a grinder, here is a basic guideline that will show you how to go about it safely. Be sure to wear the appropriate protective clothing such as a dust mask or respirator, goggles, and gloves.

How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete by Grinding


What You Will Need

  • Angle grinder
  • Diamond cup wheel
  • Respirator
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Full coverage clothing
  • Vacuum cleaner



You need to be aware that when using a grinder to remove spray paint from concrete, you will be removing some of the concrete too, so go easy and be very careful. Using the diamond wheel, move over the spray-painted area gently at first, applying more pressure only when necessary. Continue in this fashion until all the spray paint is removed. You can then use a vacuum cleaner to clean up the dust – there will be a lot of it.


  • Effective
  • No toxic chemicals required
  • Easy for someone experienced with a grinder


  • Creates excessive dust
  • Not for the inexperienced
  • Not ideal for coated concrete



Tips and Tricks

  • Always begin with the most gentle methods before moving on to harsh chemicals or abrasive methods. This will save you from harming the surface of the concrete.
  • If you have opted to use paint thinner to remove spray paint from concrete, keep a towel handy to dab the area when the thinner gets to work. This is because paint thinner could melt the paint quickly, and it could also run into other areas and make a mess.
  • A natural, non-toxic alternative to TSP is borax. Borax can be just as effective and is also affordable. Soy-based paint strippers are also available, which can be very effective in removing spray paint from concrete.
  • A paint stripper works very well when it is left on a painted surface for several hours. However, it must not dry on the surface, or else it can be difficult to clean off, so keep an eye on it.
  • To reduce the dust when using an angle grinder on concrete, you can use a dust shroud. You should be able to find one at your local hardware store. A dust shroud links up to a vacuum cleaner to remove the dust while you work.
  • Prevention is better than cure! Properly masking areas when painting can prevent spray painting accidents. Alternatively, sealing your concrete will not only make it last longer, but it will also make it easier to clean.
  • Act fast when you first spill the paint and try to clean it before it has a chance to cure. This will reduce the amount of elbow grease required to remove spray paint from concrete.

How to Get Spray Paint off Concrete



Frequently Asked Questions


When Should I Call a Professional?

If you have tried all of the above DIY methods and you still can not get rid of the spray paint, it might be time to call a professional. Calling a professional is also advised if the area you are dealing with is very large or if you are feeling overwhelmed.


Can I Paint Over Spray Graffiti?

You can paint over spray paint, but there is a good chance that it will show through the new coat of paint, especially if the graffiti is dark in color and the new coat you are painting is light. Often, you will have to repaint the entire structure, which can be expensive.


Can I Remove Spray Paint from Concrete Using Bleach?

It is not recommended that you use bleach when trying to remove spray paint from concrete, as bleach itself can leave salt deposits on the surface of the concrete, which can stain and are difficult to remove.


Can WD40 Remove Spray Paint from Concrete?

WD40 is a light penetrating oil that can be effective in loosening latex spray paint from concrete surfaces. Try it first on an area that is out of sight to test how it reacts with the surface of the concrete.


Will Nail Polish Remover Get Spray Paint off Concrete?

Yes, nail polish remover is an acetone-based solvent, so it can remove spray paint from concrete depending on how porous the surface is and what type of spray paint has been used. You can follow the steps listed in Method 4 for more detailed instructions.