How to strip paint off resin models

Posted: April 23, 2013 in Tutorials

A few weeks ago over Easter I had a few of my Wargaming mates over for a couple of days of hardcore man dollie action, drinking beer and BBQ’s. For those of you who follow my FB page you may remember me commenting on what a superb miniature Inquisitor Hector Rex is. I’ve had this guy in my collection for some time as I’ve always wanted to paint him simply because its an amazing sculpt. If you haven’t seen it close up, do yourself a favour and find one, he’s pretty amazing.

Well, while I had some of my friends over we were taking about models we’d like to paint etc and I mentioned how I’d really like to do a diorama that features Inquisitor Rex fighting the FW greater Daemon of Khorne. I can’t say for certain, but it actually looks like the minis were sculpted to be positioned with one another.

This is the model incase you are not familiar with it


Anyway, amazingly one of my friends mentions to me that he has one, that’s been assembled and under coated but he doesn’t intend on ever painting it so he asked me if I’d like to have it, for FREE! I was pretty overwhelmed by his generosity and after being assured by him that he didn’t want anything for it other than me doing a kick ass paint job in it, I accepted. So he brought it round the next day and I could see that I had a big job ahead if me getting it disassembled and cleaned up ready to be painted.

Now, the model wasn’t particularly well put together and never having had seen one before unassembled I wasn’t sure where it came apart. It had also lots and lots of green stuff in the joints too that was going to have to be removed.

Not having removed paint from resin models ever I had to do some research on what methods to use etc, as I didn’t want to damage the resin. There seemed to be two schools of thought on the subject.

1. Simply green commercial floor cleaner
2. Dettol

Now being a fairly practical guy that’s prone to taking the path of least resistance I took the dettol option. I brought the biggest one I could find in the super market, for 750ml it cost me $10. I later found out that simply green is $20 for the smallest quantity I could find which was 5L.

Here’s the stuff.


So I rushed it home, got a 10L bucket poured my Dettol in along with some water 20/80 dropped the blood thirster in and sat back….

I came back about 3 hrs later and pulled out a random part and with my trusty tooth brush began scrubbing. Much to my surprise the paint had turned into this oily solution that was extremely hard to get off not only my brush, but my hands and worst of all, the model. I could see that it was working but it was not coming off at all. I even tried using a detergent and warm water, but still no dice. So far Blood Thirster 1. John 0.

So I put my thinking cap on and did some research. Found out some interesting things. Firstly, the main ingredient in Dettol is a substance called chloroxylenol and that several of the other ingredients in Dettol are not insoluble in water. This is why when you add water to Dettol it goes a white coloured and milky. The other thing I found is that Dettol contains isopropanol. To cut a very long story short, isopropanol will actually dissolve many forms of plastic, but I suspect that because its in such a small quantity it only removes the paint, not dissolve the resin. But I’m not a chemist so I can’t say conclusively. I also can not say conclusively if it is the active ingredient in Dettol that actually stripped the paint, but do know after doing my research that if I use alcohol I’ll be able to remove the oily residue.

Enter diggers metholated spirits


This stuff worked a treat on getting the oily residue off and had the greater daemon clean in no time. I couldn’t believe how clean it all came up.  All I used the metho for was simply rinsing off the model.  I didn’t actually soak the parts in metho, just used it to “wash” the parts.  Overall I’m pretty pleased with the results. As an added benefit the green stuff weakened after being soaked in the Dettol and the model came apart very easily. I still hand to do a fair bit of gentle scraping etc to get the last fragments off, but everything came apart really easily and it now looks like this


Great success!

So it turns out there were one or two pieces missing but nothing too dramatic. I plan on remaking these then begin reassembling the blood thirster and get him ready to paint. It’s going to look amazing.

Got a few interesting projects in the pipe line ATM and I can’t wait to get them started but unfortunately I’ve got Uni so that’s where my focus had to be for most of the time. I’ve also had a few people ask me about the battle report I promised. Well, the battle did happen, but due to having my judgement impaired from a little too much alcohol no photos got taken. However come June/July the bunker will be back open for business and I’m sure you’ll see plenty of hardcore man dollie action coming at you!

Until then,

Thanks for dropping in

John Sutton, Brisbane, Qld

  1. Alan Doyle says:

    I made the same mistake two days ago. I thought I’d do the same as when use paint stripper on a metal model wash it off under water. WRONG! All you get is sticky oily hands 😦
    You have to scrub the paint clean off the model and then put it in warm soapy water. I think I’ll use you’re example and put them in some Meths overnight as I’m still worried I’ll have some Dettol residue on them.
    PS I also found Dettol stings like hell if you expose you’re skin to it. I should have realised that to proud to put pink pink marigolds on!

  2. Mangozac says:

    I have to advise though that depending on the resin going straight to Metho is not a good idea. I tried stripping one of my BFG light cruiser casts a while back and it turned the resin all soft. Although the resin did go hard again a few days after being pulled out of the metho, the process of scrubbing off the paint had rounded the sharp edges and destroyed the fine detail. I’m guessing it worked well in your case because the Dettol had already done most of the hard work and thus the model didn’t stay in the metho long enough to soften it?

  3. Matthew Lye says:

    Metho is a solvent for acrylic paint so it works very very effectively but…

    You really want to use it very diluted, probably 10:1, as it will soften resin if it gets into it (and also makes it less brittle if its a poor resin!)

    When I have to strip paint I use a stiff toothbrush and brush it onto the model after letting it soak for 30-60s in a diluted solution.

  4. John says:

    hey Mate like your good work keep it up. I have been looking at my Bloodthirster for a while now a little less worried about painting it now after seeing this stripper tutorial. Also are you going to do a painting tutorial on the BT?

  5. 40kterminatus says:

    I often have the same problem.I use white spirit after the dettol stage to remove the really sticky stuff. Just one minute in white spirit will clean up a figure.Do not leave a plastic figure in white spirit for too long as it some times eats the plastic. I leave metal figures over night in white spirit and they come out mint.

  6. Freakiq says:

    Tried this on a Forge World Ironclad Dreadnought as well as a few finecast Thousand Sons, works great.

    Thank you so much for the tutorial.

  7. Hi there! can you please tell me witch paints u striped with this? Acrylic, enamel, oil?. I have a resin figure I would like to re-paint, and was painted with a mixture of paints. Will Detol remove all types of paint?

  8. Scott says:

    Hello there could you clarify the ratio of detol to water e.g. detol 1:5 water I am assuming. Many thanks Scott.

  9. John Sutton says:

    No worries Kaelo, time is a big thing in this hobby. I wish I had more time for it too these days.

  10. Mike says:

    Will try this later on a poorly painted Warhound Titan I got for free. Thanks for the advice, great read!

  11. Margaret Schafer says:

    Hi, just stumbled across this article, but wanted to let you know, that if you can stand to go into what is normally a female section of the store, Wal Mart is great, go to the finger nail polish remover section, and get a bottle of 100% Acetone Professional Remover, you will be very pleased! Depending on how many coats of old paint you want to remove, it is usually one swipe of the cotton ball and the paint is gone. Rinse item in soap and water, and you’re ready to paint, NOW, no oily residue left behind. I use the Onyx Professional, item # 03030, and have never soaked anything. If there is a lot of detail, use an old tooth brush to scrub it down. I have done several pieces like this, and am always happy with the end results. I have never soaked it, so I don’t really know what would happen, but it does clean it right off for you, very easily! give it a try! margaret

  12. Tom Magee says:

    Cheers Mate. I too have struggled with dettol. No more 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s