How to remove paint from tail lights

The tail light is an important component of your car because it helps you to see the signals from the car coming from the back. Also, in the traffic, it helps to turn left and right.

At times some people may try to modify their car and, in the process, some of them may cause damage to the tail light cover.

remove spray paint from tail light

Here we are going to list out some of the steps by which you can get rid of the paint from the tail light.

The steps which I am gonna share with you which will help you to remove paint from tail lights are tried and tested by myself and by my painter friends.

They also analyzed the results and I also then I have come up with this post which will help you to achieve the results after completing the work.

Remove paint quickly

If you find yourself painting a car one day, it may not be hard to accidentally paint over your tail lights.

Don’t worry! Before the paint dries, you need to have a cloth nearby so that you can wipe off the excess paint before it solidifies. These methods which I am explaining

As long as you act quickly enough – if there’s still a little wetness on the surface, it shouldn’t be too difficult to wipe away the excess and return your car’s tail lights back to their original state. These methods which I have used and tested for removing paint from tail lights can also be used to remove paint from rims, metal and stainless steel surface.

Remove paint using dish soap

You will need to test a hidden corner of your car first to make sure it doesn’t damage the paint.

Then get a clean bucket and fill it with a few inches of hot water. Add a dollop of detergent-like dish soap and rub it around to dissolve the paint on the tail lights.

Mix some more hot water and soap to create a little soapy water.

Then, dip a clean cloth in the solution and start wiping the paint off. If you have a lot of tail lights that need to be cleaned.

Then soak a towel in the above-mentioned solution and instead of wiping it off, try to wipe the solution off with the towel.

The towel will take a little more time than cloth but will get more paint off than a cloth. It is not advised to use this method on clear lenses, however, as it can cause the paint to crack.

Remove paint from tail lights with lacquer thinner

Lacquer Thinner is a very strong solvent that is commonly used for removing paint from various objects. Follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Get a large container. Fill it up with 3/4 lacquer thinner and 1/2 water. Add some drops of detergent if the paint is still sticky.
  2. Soak the tail lights in the container for four to five hours.
  3. After soaking, grab the tail lights with some pliers and give them a gentle pull. The paint will come off thinner.
  4. Once the paint is off, clean the tail lights with some soap and water, and then dry them with a microfiber cloth.

Use Denatured alcohol for paint removing

The solution is to use denatured alcohol. Denatured alcohol is pure alcohol that has been stripped down by the addition of dangerous chemicals.

Hence the “denatured” part of its name. This solution is perfect because it is readily available, cheap, and effective.

removing paint from tail lights

The process is simple, as well. Soak a cloth (or a rag, or a paper towel) in denatured alcohol, and rub it into the affected areas of the tail light.

The paint may take a little while to dissolve, but it will eventually. Give it some time, and the paint will come right off. You may need to reapply the solution a few times, so plan accordingly.

Remove paint with buff and polish

To remove paint from a tail light, first, you have to clean the tail light as a whole. Then using buff and polish, use a little bit of polish and a soft or medium polishing pad on the light.

Buff it and be careful not to rub the paint off.

Then, use a clean lint-free cloth and some rubbing alcohol to clean the polish residue off. Buff the light and it should shine.

Use acetone for removing paint from tail lights

You should mix about 2 or 3 parts of paint thinner with 1 part of acetone. Mix it well and put the mixture on a paper towel to remove the excess.

Then take the paper towel and apply it to the tail light. Let it dry for about 2 or 3 hours.

This is just some advice and I recommend you to do some experiments with the mixture before you actually use it. Mixing it in small quantities might be a good idea.

Remove paint using WD 40

You can use WD40 to remove paint from tail lights. Spray WD40 on the tail light in question, and then rub the paint off with a clean cloth.

Apply WD40 2-3 times, and then wipe down with a clean cloth. If this doesn’t work, then you can use paint thinner. Follow the same steps, but use paint thinner instead of WD40.

Use Nail polish remover for tail lights paint

Use nail polish remover. Although it might not be the best option, it sure is one of the easiest to use. You can pick up some at a local drug store.

Just remember to practice on a spare piece of plastic first to get the method down.

Remove paint from tail lights using rubbing compound

1) Use only the finest grade of rubbing compound.

2) Rub the compound in a circular motion on the paint that you want to remove until the paint is gone.

You don’t want to just “scrub” on the paint, because you will dull the surface of the tail light if you do that. Instead.

Use the rubbing compound and circular motion to “polish” away the paint and leave the surface of the tail light intact.

You can use other types of polishing compounds to remove the paint as well, though they tend to be less effective than rubbing compounds.


The best way to remove paint from headlights is the same way you would remove paint from anything else. You need a product that will soften up the paint and then you need to scrape off the paint. If you have time and patience, it’s better to let the paint dry thoroughly before scraping it off. But in most cases, you won’t have any time for that. You’ll want to get the paint off asap.

Solvents like lacquer thinner, turpentine or acetone can remove black paint. If you don’t have these solvents, try using WD-40, which is a solvent that is predominantly composed of hydrocarbon. Before cleaning the lens, wear gloves and do not touch the lens with your bare hands. Degrease the lens thoroughly to remove all oil and residue. Spray WD-40 onto the lens and let it soak in for a few minutes. Thoroughly clean the surface with a car wash sponge. After cleaning off the dirt with a car wash sponge, you can use a microfiber towel to buff out the lens.

There are a few ways to fix this problem. You can sand off the paint to the clear plastic color. You can also use paint remover and then wash it with water. Or, you can use nail polish remover. The nail polish remover will be the fastest and easiest way. Just put a little bit onto a cotton ball, and then rub gently onto the lens. Be careful not to get any remover on the colored part! After you have removed the paint, wash with water and dry.

Wrap up on How to remove paint from taillights

This guide was written after using these methods which are tried and tested by me and my professional painter friends and we analyzed the results after completing the process.

Newbies should follow easy methods if they find those difficult which include the use of some chemicals and other stuff.

I hope the information in this article has been useful and that you’re able to get your paint removed as quickly and as safely as possible.

If you have any questions about the process or want to share your own experiences in paint removal, please feel free to leave a comment below.

And if you find any confusion in following this very easy-to-understand guide then let me know In the comments section with your relevant query and I will clear it out.

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