The 3 ways experts get paint off glass – for a tidy, professional paint job

Some paint is notoriously difficult to remove from surfaces it shouldn't be on. This is how to get accidental spills off of glass

Someone using a paint brush to paint window trims white
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you are adding a fresh coat of paint to glazed doors, or sprucing up your window frames for summer, painting around glass can be tricky, and getting paint off of glass even more so. 

While avoiding getting paint on glass is far easier than removing it, there are a few simple cleaning tips you can try to help remove unsightly paint marks and restore your windows. 

Here, experienced painters and decorators share how they get paint off of glass, as well as how to prevent getting paint on the glass in the first place.

How to get paint off glass  

Even if you have a steady hand or years of experience painting, it only takes one slip to mark glass and mar your otherwise perfect-looking paint job. Luckily, there are three different approaches you can take to restore your window's shine again.

Someone using a paint brush to paint window trims white

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Loosen paint with vinegar

Cleaning with vinegar is one of the best natural remedies for most household chores, including cleaning paint brushes and removing both wet and dried paint from glass. Heating the vinegar up makes this quick solution even more effective, adds Andre Kazimierski, professional painter and founder of Improovy. 

‘You can boil vinegar on the stove or using a microwave, then soak a rag in it while still hot and rub the paint until it loosens (being careful not to burn yourself),’ he says. ‘You should then use water to rinse the remaining paint and vinegar from the glass.’

There are some important things to note when using something as acidic as vinegar on glass, however, adds Leonard Ang, painter and CEO of iPropertyManagement, as some older glass may be susceptible to damage with solvents.

‘Modern glass windows usually have synthetic coatings that will keep them safe from strong solvents and acids; older windows are often more natural in their materials, and acids like vinegar can actually eat into them,’ he warns. 

Andre
Andre Kazimierski

Andre Kazimierski founded Improovy in 2019 and has developed it into a leading home improvement service. It is his mission to make painting more efficient for all of his clients and uses generations of expertise to inform his work. 

2. Carefully scrape away dried paint with a razor blade

Safety razors have a huge host of uses for glass around the home, from getting stickers off of mirrors and glass to cleaning glass stove tops. They are the quickest method for removing paint from glass too, as John Linden, designer and home improvement expert at MirrorCoop points out, but they need to be used carefully and correctly to avoid permanent scratches. 

To use a razor, work at an angle, sliding the blade smoothly over the surface as opposed to using a 'stabbing' or 'jarring' motion. It is also important to use a specialized DIY razor such as this from Amazon to limit your chances of causing more damage to your glass than a simple layer of paint. 

Razor Blade Scraper | $9.99 at Amazon

Razor Blade Scraper | $9.99 at Amazon
This razor set includes two different types of scraper for both plastic and metal surfaces. Its long handle also makes it ideal for working in tight spots.

3. Break down paint with Acetone or Turpentine

The most obvious way to remove paint from glass is to use a traditional solvent such as turpentine or acetone (nail varnish remover), so long as you are okay with using traditional chemicals, says Prerna Jain, a professional cleaner at Ministry of Cleaning

When using strong chemicals, make sure the area you are in is well-ventilated, that you wear the proper safety equipment such as a ventilator mask and gloves, and use a cloth to carefully apply the solvent to the glass and not the surrounding painted areas you want to keep intact. 

The solvent will easily soak through any painter's tape used to cover your dried paintwork, so you need a truly steady hand and a good brush to apply it carefully. 

How to prevent getting paint on glass

Preventing paint marks on glass may sound time-consuming when you want to get a job done, but it is far quicker (and less effort) than trying to remove paint from glass. Follow our TikTok, below or use these simple methods help to protect your glass and will save you from having to clean your windows thoroughly afterward. 

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♬ Allure of Mist (30 sec, Full) - Jonathan Paulsen

1. Use painters' tape  

A professional painters' staple, using a good painters' tape, such as Frogtape Multisurface Tape from Amazon – and knowing when to remove painters' tape – will save you a lot of time and hassle when undertaking any painting jobs, Andre Kazimierski, professional decorator endorses. 

The trick, he says, is to really push down on the tape to create a strong barrier to prevent paint from ‘falling, seeping, or splashing onto the glass'. Taking your time during this step will still be quicker than washing away stubborn paint afterward. 

2. Apply paintable masking liquid 

Paintable masking liquid (see our TikTok above!) has gone viral online for its satisfying end results and ease of use. The simple liquid can be painted over any surface (but especially glass) to ensure a tight seal that prevents the paint from seeping through. Once dried, it forms a stretchy, protective barrier between your paintbrush and the glass, and peels away easily from the surface once you have finished the job. 

One advantage to this method over painters' tape is it is a little less fiddly to apply and guarantees you a tight seal. With painters' tape, you need to really focus to ensure there are no air bubbles and the tape is pressed right up against the join in a straight line. 

Associated Paint Masking Liquid | Was $35.99, Now $30 at Amazon

Associated Paint Masking Liquid | Was $35.99, Now $30 at Amazon
This paintable masking liquid does the same job as painters tape but is far simpler to apply. Simple paint onto the glass up to the edges and leave it to dry. Paint as normal before peeling away to reveal a clear line and clean glass.  

FAQs

Will WD40 remove paint?

WD40 is a great tool for removing paint and lifting paint stains from a series of surfaces including laminate flooring and glass. The slippy lubricant breaks down the paint molecules and lifts the stubborn mark away cleanly. As with any cleaning hack, however, you should be cautious about using WD40 near fabrics, and should always test the product on an inconspicuous area first to make sure it doesn't cause any staining of its own.  

What kind of paint will wash off glass?

If you are looking for a paint that will easily wash off of glass with soap and water, tempera paint, available at Amazon, may be the best option for you. This paint is perfect for creating temporary window displays for different holidays or seasons, or to have some fun with kids, but is not suitable for painting window frames or trim. 


Removing paint is not the easiest task, and prevention is certainly easier than a cure. Nevertheless, these three ways to get paint off glass are great for a quick touch-up for neatly painted doors and trims.  

Chiana Dickson
Writer

Chiana has been at Homes & Gardens for a year, having started her journey in interior journalism as part of the graduate program. She spends most of her time producing content for the Solved section of the website, helping readers get the most out of their homes through clever decluttering, cleaning, and tidying tips – many of which she tests and reviews herself in her home in Lancaster to ensure they will consistently deliver for her readers and dabbles in the latest design trends. She also has a first-class degree in Literature from Lancaster University.