How to remove emulsion paint from upvc windows

Let’s set the scene, you’ve just finished painting your walls, carefully cutting in around your windows when disaster strikes. You notice you got some emulsion on your uPVC windows a while ago without noticing and, oh no! It has already dried on. What do you do? Well, I have done some research and got together some of the most recommended ways to remove emulsion paint from uPVC windows. But I haven’t just done that, I have gone one step further. I have gone out and bought all the supplies I will need for each different method. Then I have purposely painted some emulsion on my window frame and let it dry. So let’s get cleaning and see which method is actually the best way to remove emulsion from a uPVC window.

Hopefully at least one of these methods works well so I don’t have to explain to the wife why we now have painted window frames…

How to remove emulsion paint from uPVC windows

The method that worked best for me was Methylated spirits although all three methods did work well so if you want to see all the different options I tried just keep scrolling.

The Methods

There are tons of methods to remove emulsion from uPVC and every decorator will probably have their own secret sauce. But these are some of the most popular methods I saw recommended again and again on DIY forums and blogs.

Methylated Spirits

According to one wise old head if you apply methylated spirits to the emulsion and let it soak in it will soften the paint. After it has worked its magic you should, in theory, be able to simply wipe the paint off.

Methylated Spirit
Methylated Spirit

Sugar Soap

The decorator’s old-time friend. Seemingly recommended for all jobs, it pops up again here.

Sugar Soap
Sugar Soap

Wonder Wipes

I had never heard of these before but they seemingly look like baby wipes marketed to men, lets see how they do!

Wonder Wipes
Wonder Wipes

The uPVC Window

So here is my window. Freshly painted with some beautiful grey emulsion, I really hope at least one of these methods comes through for me!

The Three Emulsion Spots
The Three Emulsion Spots

Methylated Spirits

So let’s start with the Methylated Spirits. Commonly known as Meths, Denatured Alcohol or Ethanol (Ethyl Alcohol).  It is alcohol mixed with a small quantity of Methanol to make it unfit for consumption and dyed purple. The purple dye is really just an extra step to put people off from drinking it.

The perceived wisdom for using this to clean off emulsion is that I should just apply it and then let it sit. It should then soften the paint, allowing for it to simply be wiped off.

Barrettine Mineralised Methylated Spirit ml
£6.99
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Step 1 – Add Spirit to a Cloth

So to start with simply add some Methylated Spirit to a cloth.

Step 1 - Add Some Spirit to a Cloth
Step 1 – Add Some Spirit to a Cloth

Step 2 – Dab Onto Paint

Now just dab the spirit onto the paint. Don’t try and scrub the paint off yet. Just simply dab the spirit on for now.

Step 2 - Dab The Spirit onto the Paint
Step 2 – Dab The Spirit onto the Paint

Step 3 – Wait

Now we wait for the spirit to do its thing. In theory, it should be softening the paint up so it comes off really easily.

In fact, we can see that it is already working in the photo below.

Step 3 - Wait
Step 3 – Wait

Step 4 – Wipe Off

So now the idea is that the paint has been thoroughly softened up and it should just wipe off.

Step 4 - Wipe The Paint Off
Step 4 – Wipe The Paint Off

So you can see that simply wiping has not brought all of the paint off. But it has done a good job. So we will require a little elbow grease to get this done.

Step 5 – Scrub Off

Now we have wiped and it didn’t bring everything off its time to put a little more effort in and do a little scrubbing.

Step 5 - Scrub Off
Step 5 – Scrub Off

Now the paint is really coming off.

All Done

All Done
All Done

So I managed to remove all of the emulsion paint and to be honest it was very easy, this method definitely works well.

Wonder Wipes

Specially formulated to clean hands, tools and surfaces from wet and semi-cured paint, sealant, adhesive, bitumen, expanding foam, oil, grease and even silicone. Particularly useful if there is no water on site.

Everbuild multi-use Wonder Wipes have become a popular choice of the nations builders and tradesmen. They are particularly useful when there is no water on site. Contains an anti-bacterial additive that is tested by an independent laboratory to BS EN 1276 for chemical disinfectants and antiseptics.

But how well will they clean emulsion off of my uPVC window frame?

Everbuild Wonder Wipes Multi-Use Cleaning Wipes, 100 Wipes
£5.20
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Wonder Wipes in their Dispenser
Wonder Wipes in their Dispenser
A Wonder Wipe!
A Wonder Wipe!

So this method is simple enough to follow. Grab a wonder wipe and scrub at the paint. Let’s see how these manly wipes work.

After A Little Bit of Scrubbing
After A Little Bit of Scrubbing

You can see that these wipes are really working. I was pleasantly surprised at just how well they removed the paint. The image is a after a little bit of scrubbing, probably around ten seconds.

After a bit more scrubbing
After a bit more scrubbing

So with a little more elbow grease we are nearly done, but will these wipes manage to remove all of the emulsion?

All Clean
All Clean

So here we can see all of the paint removed. I did this sample first which is why the other two paint marks are still there. I would say this is a very effective method but I would say the Methylated Spirit is slightly easier.

Sugar Soap

Sugar soap is one of those things that seems to be useful for everything. Officially it is used to effectively removes grease, grime and nicotine from painted surfaces to ensure improved adhesion.

Everbuild Sugar Soap Ready To Use Spray, 500 ml
£4.40
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Step 1 - Spray on Sugar Soap
Step 1 – Spray on Sugar Soap

I sprayed the paint I wanted to remove with some of the sugar soap.

Step 2 - Scrub The Paint
Step 2 – Scrub The Paint

I then scrubbed away at the paint with a cloth.

Step 3 - Keep Scrubbing
Step 3 – Keep Scrubbing

You can see that the paint is coming off. This was a lot slower than the other methods however.

Finished
Finished

All done! This method obviously worked. But, it was the hardest and most time consuming of all three methods I used.

Photo of author

Sam Wood

Wood by name, wood by nature. I am a fully qualified, time-served, award-winning joiner with an NVQ Level 3 in Carpentry and Joinery as well as an HNC in Construction. Beyond my joinery qualifications, I have also earned a degree in building surveying. I believe these qualifications make me perfectly positioned to provide expert advice on many different areas of DIY as well as share all of the tips I have picked up in over a decade working on building sites!

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