There comes a time in the life of a hobbyist when, looking at a freshly painted model, he thinks: "I really want to do it all over again." The only problem is that it is monstrously difficult! The brake oil will remove the paint, but it will corrode the model and your hands. Denatured alcohol would strip the metal, but erode the details of the model. However, don't despair! There is a safe and easy to use paint stripper! Here is Dettol, a modeler's best friend!
Step 1. Gather the necessary ingredients and tools
You will need the following items:
- An original bottle of Dettol, which is a disinfectant liquid that can be found at many supermarkets, pharmacies or general stores. Do not take imitations or the results may not be what you hoped for.
- Two old toothbrushes, preferably of medium hardness or higher, as soft toothbrushes can't remove as much paint.
- A thin object, such as a toothpick, pin, or paper clip. They will come in handy later.
- A container at least as large as a jar of cucumbers. Glass or plastic will be fine, but make sure you can spoil it, as after the process it will no longer be reusable.
- Several rags or cloths, preferably thin, so that you can feel the models through them. Again, make sure they are old and you won't need them in the future.
- Two rubber gloves. Dettol, while not dangerous, dehydrates the skin and can cause skin and discomfort on areas that have been in contact with it for too long. Using surgical gloves, or similar, will help you avoid the problem.
- Running water, preferably close to the work area.
- Newspapers, or something to protect the countertop, as you will get quite dirty and the paint removed from the models will be difficult to remove from any surfaces it may fall on.
- A well ventilated room. It could create some fumes which, although harmless, can be a bit annoying in confined spaces. An open door or a couple of open windows will ensure sufficient airflow.
Step 2. Create the Dettol solution
You can create as much solution as you want, and also vary the concentration, there are no fixed rules. Generally, a 1: 1 ratio of Dettol to cold tap water will give you the best results within 24 hours. You can also add more water though, for example in a 1: 2 ratio, but the model will have to stay submerged for longer. If you bought a whole bottle of Dettol, the easiest thing to do is to turn the whole package upside down and add the same amount of water, adding more later if you want. There is nothing else to do to get the solution.
Step 3. Choose the models you want to remove
The solution works on both metal and plastic, and both heavily painted multi-layer models and only partially painted models. The mixture loosens the joints held together by the green putty, and sometimes even the glued ones, so do not immerse models held together in this way.
Step 4. Carefully drop the models into Dettol's bathroom
You can put as many as you like.
Step 5. Leave the models to soak for approximately 24-48 hours
Many models will only need a day of soaking, but with new modern and increasingly durable paints, some models will need much longer before the paint comes off. Obviously the mixture will not spoil the details of the models, so they will always be safe regardless of the duration of the dive. Remember to close the lid of the container and leave it in a safe place.
Step 6. After 24-48 hours, remove the lid, put on gloves and take a model out of the Dettol
The mixture should be almost opaque, perhaps whitish or brownish, and the paint should have formed a slime coating that covers the models and which, thanks to a toothbrush, will be very easy to remove.
Step 7. Remove all paint with the toothbrush
Use only one toothbrush, you will need the second later. Brush by pushing the toothbrush away from you at a 45 degree angle to the surface of the model. Keep brushing each corner thoroughly until all the paint comes off. If he is putting up too much resistance, read on.
Step 8. Dip your toothbrush or anything else encrusted with the removed paint (eg your gloves if they are staining the model again) in the Dettol mix and not under tap water to remove all traces of the paint
It is a very important step - if you put the objects soiled with paint and Dettol under tap water, they will become almost impossible to clean, preventing you from continuing. See the Tips and Warnings section for more information.
Step 9. Re-immerse the model if needed
Sometimes you will need to remove the bulk of the paint and soak the model for another 24 so that even the hardest-to-remove paint peels off. Remove as much paint as possible and if you still can't clean it completely, put the model back in the bathroom again. Repeat these steps until you are happy with the result.
Step 10. Place the cleaned model on the towel or cloth you placed on the counter
At this point you should have a nice paint free model. However, there are still a few steps to follow, the paint may still hide in the maze of the model, obscuring the details or weakening the future layers of the new paint you will apply.
Step 11. Take the models individually and scrub them with your hands under running water
You can take off your gloves with no problem as much of the mixture will have been washed off by now. Rinse the models under water until you feel that they have lost the "muddy" layer that covered them. Now put them back on the cloth.
Step 12. Taking another cloth, "polish" the models by wiping them with the cloth
You will be surprised at how much paint is left on the model you are holding. This will also help dry them in anticipation of the next step.
Step 13. Remove any remaining paint with your second toothbrush and the fine object you found (paper clip, toothpick etc)
There is no need to dip this toothbrush into Dettol's mix. Push the toothbrush firmly into any nooks and crannies to make sure there are no traces of paint left.
Step 14. Rub the models one last time with the cloth and let them dry for a whole day
After this time, the model should be ready to be repainted and, of course, all previous paint has been removed without damaging anything!
Step 15. Reuse the blend if you want
Dettol mix can be stored for a long time but generally begins to lose effectiveness after the second use. It is advisable to discard the mixture, clean the container and make a new mixture.
- If you're not sure how effective the solution is, or if you don't think you've used the right doses, take an old model and use it as a test. The mixture will not lose its effectiveness due to a single model and you will get an idea of how the more serious models will react.
- The container can get quite dirty on the bottom, and the finer models you are trying to paint stripping along with others may not get the attention they deserve. Simply create some more solution in a smaller container and treat them as they deserve.
- Never put a paintbrush and Dettol dirty brush under water. It will turn the solution into a thick, sticky substance, and you will no longer be able to use that toothbrush to remove paint from the models. To get the paint off of things, stop doing what you were doing, put your toothbrush and possibly gloves in the mix and leave them overnight, just like for model cars. The next day, pick up where you left off.
- Paint on model glue is more difficult to remove, as it literally binds to the glue, making it black, brown or any other color. Don't try to brush these areas, but let them dry along with the rest of the model and cut them off later with your modeling tools.
- Always work in an environment with good airflow. Dettol can give you a headache and prevent you from breathing properly if you breathe too much of it.
- Learn about the laws of the country you live in regarding drains before you spill Dettol in the sink.
- As mentioned in the guide, Dettol quickly dehydrates the skin. Always wear gloves when using it for extended periods and always keep a bottle of humidifier on hand for when you're done.