Will WD-40 Remove Paint from Hands? And What Else Will?

Although you can hire a professional painter to paint your room, it’s much more satisfying to do it yourself. Not to mention cheaper. However, it comes with one major drawback – it creates a lot of mess. And while many cover their furniture to protect it from paint, they often neglect to protect themselves. This can leave you with a huge mess on your hands – literally. So how can you remove it? Will WD-40 work, or should you look for a better product?

Here’s what you’ll learn today:

  • What is WD-40 used for?
  • Can WD-40 remove paint from your hands?
  • How can you protect your hands from paint?
  • What else can you use to remove paint from your hands?

What is WD-40?

WD-40 is a popular multipurpose lubricant made in the US. It’s prized for versatility, and many people use it to displace moisture and prevent rust. The name stands for ‘Water Displacement, 40th formula, which refers to the number of attempts it took the company to create the product.

This product is relatively cheap and easy to apply. It typically comes in a spray can and features a straw designed to help you reach nooks and joints.

It is a synthetic product.

Can WD-40 remove paint from hands?

WD-40 is a hydrocarbon substance capable of dissolving nonpolar compounds. Thus, it can indeed remove paint from most surfaces, including your hands.

WD-40 can dissolve most types of paints, be they latex or water-based. It works almost immediately if you apply it to wet paint. It can tackle dried paint as well, although this can take several applications.

But while you can use it on your hands, it’s still a chemical substance. Prolonged exposure can cause skin irritation, which is why you might want to think twice before you use it to clean your hands. This can be an issue if you have sensitive skin.

Make sure you wash your hands quickly after you remove the paint if you’re dead set on using this product.

How can you protect your skin from paint?

Painting projects are always messy. Thus, you must prepare your environment accordingly. And while most of us spend hours covering precious furniture with drape and plastic foil, we often neglect ourselves. We usually realize we’re not wearing any gloves only after we look at our paint-drenched hands.

Unfortunately, wearing protective equipment such as gloves are the only way you can protect your hands from paint. Once the damage’s done, you’ll have to use a paint remover to wash it off.

You should thus make sure you’re always wearing gloves when painting.

What else can remove paint from your hands? 8 alternatives to WD-40

While gloves are the surest way to protect yourself from paint, it’s very easy to forget to wear them. Not to mention they’re not always an option. Some people feel clumsy in their gloves, which can affect the quality of their painting. You’ll have to use paint removers if you count yourself among them.

Here are 8 alternatives to WD-40:

1) Soap and water

This is the first method you should try when attempting to remove paint from your hands. You don’t lose anything if it doesn’t work out.

Although this method is very straightforward, there are still some things you must consider.

Firstly, the water and soap work the best when the paint hasn’t completely dried yet. You’ll have to scrub it much harder if it’s already dry. Use lukewarm water for the best results. You can use any type of soap, although liquid ones work better than bar ones.

This works best for water-based paints.

However, it’s not the safest one. Too much rubbing can cause harmful substances from the paint to enter your body. These include carcinogens such as toluene and xylene.

2) Abrasive

If water and soap don’t do the trick, you’ll need to use an abrasive substance to scrub the paint clean. An abrasive substance comes with a rough surface that peels the paint off your skin. Some examples include pumice, granular sugar, and salt.

Simply rub your area with one of these materials while you wash your hands. You should ideally do this in a bowl. Otherwise, you may end up washing the abrasive down the drain.

3) Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol or isopropyl is a polar substance. This makes it perfect for removing water-based paint from your hands.

Apply it to your skin with cotton and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Then, wash it off with warm water and soap.

Never use an abrasive with alcohol, as it can cause skin irritation. Dry your hands with a towel once you’re done. If you still have some paint on your hands, repeat this process.

4) Baking soda

If you’re looking for a natural remedy, you can mix baking soda with water. We recommend using a 1:1 ratio.

Apply the paste onto your hands and let it sit for at least 2 minutes. The paste should soften the paint, making it easier to scrub off. Repeat as many times as you need to get all the paint off.

5) Acetone

Acetone is a hydrocarbon found in nail polish remover. It’s a nonpolar solvent, which makes it perfect for removing oil-based paints. Most paints used in home improvement projects are oil-based, which makes them a good choice for cleaning your hands.

However, acetone has one major drawback. It stings even worse than it smells. Prolonged exposure can cause skin irritation. Although it does work, we don’t recommend using it.

If you plan on using acetone, try to minimize the contact time as much as possible.

6) Paint wipes/baby wipes

Paint wipes are special tools designed for paint removal. Although they cost more than other methods, they’re surprisingly effective. But more importantly, they work on the skin as well. And compared to other options, they don’t irritate your skin.

These wipes work wonders on both wet and dry paint on your skin. However, they only work on wet paint on other surfaces.

You can alternatively use baby wipes. But while these are much cheaper, they’re not nearly as effective.

7) Use oil

Most paints are oil-based – they contain mostly hydrophobic compounds. These compounds don’t dissolve in water but dissolve in other nonpolar substances. Thus, you can use common oil to wash them off your hands.

Your best bet is to use vegetable oil. We recommend using olive oil, but you can use whatever you have at home. Apply the oil to your hands. Don’t wash it – let it sit in for at least 2 minutes. Rub your hands together to peel off the dry paint. Then, remove the oil with a cloth or a napkin.

Next, wash your hands with water and soap. This should remove most of the paint on your hands. If it doesn’t, rub your hands together with pumice, sugar, or salt. Repeat this process as many times as you need.

You can use any oil-based products. Some other substances that work well are baby oil and mayonnaise.

8) Use paint thinner

This should be your last resort. Paint thinners and other turpentine-based products are extremely powerful. While they will remove paint from your hands, they can also cause rashes and irritation. Use them only if nothing else works.

Dip a cotton ball into glycerin and gently scrub the affected area. Apply some paint thinner with another cotton and apply it to the paint. Use as little paint thinner as possible to prevent irritation. Remove the excess product with a dry cloth. And finally, wash your hands using water and soap.

Our final thoughts on removing paint from your hands with WD-40 and other alternatives

WD-40 is an American lubricant. It has many uses, from preventing rust to removing paint. But while it can remove paint from most surfaces, we don’t recommend using it on your skin. This is because it can lead to irritation.

The best way to protect your hands from paint is to wear gloves. If this isn’t an option, you’ll have to use solvents to remove paint stains from your hands.

The most common method is simply washing your hands with water and soap. This works well for water-based paint. If the running water isn’t enough to remove the paint, you’ll need to use an abrasive element such as pumice to scrub it clean.

Other great options for water-based paints include isopropyl alcohol and acetone. Keep in mind that these are both chemical substances – prolonged use can lead to skin irritation. Use them sparingly and only after you try the other methods.

Oil-based paints are trickier to remove. Since they reject water, simply washing your hands won’t work. Your best option is to use vegetable oil to dissolve them. Apply it to your skin and let it sit for a few minutes. Mineral oil, baby oil, and mayonnaise should work as well.

Although you can use a paint thinner to remove oil-based paints as well, we don’t recommend it. Paint thinners are harmful to the skin and can lead to rashes.