Monday, November 05, 2012


Your miniatures you perverts!!

So, on various forums and conversations I often see alot of confusion about how to simply and effectively strip paint off of minis.   Some people swear by toxic concoctions, or that you cant strip plastic only metal,  that resin should never be stripped because it will melt or cause a nuclear explosion.   In short theres alot of myths that dissuade alot of people from even trying it-  or they try a poor method and get bad results and decide stripping doesnt work.

Well,  its easy.   It costs a few $$ to get the proper materials,  but those materials will be able to strip literally hundreds of miniatures if you do it properly.    I've been stripping miniatures, metal, plastic, and resin for over 10 years and have never had any destroyed in the process.

Some will complain the set up I use is too expensive.  If you cant spare 10$, wargaming is obviously not the hobby for you- so feel free to leave now ;)

So- to start off you need to either go shopping,  or raid the kitchen & garage.  Your list:

2 plastic containers of the same size,  the disposable tupperware types are perfect.(you can make do with one if you have too)
1 gallon jug of Superclean.  This stuff is the BEST all round stripping agent for ALL the different materials our miniatures are made of- it works safely, is bio degradable, and is concentrated(hence-wear some gloves and eye protection just to be safe).   I get it at Walmart for about 7$.

The above items can be acquired for around 10$ or less.

Here are the plastic containers I used-they were on sale and less than a dollar each.   I generally use the smaller food storage ones, but I needed to strip some tanks so these were perfect(they'll fit 2 land raiders).
 I marked out a series of holes for just one of the containers- the holes need to be at the lowest point of the container since they are drain holes.

You'll notice I only made small holes-the reasoning for this is is so that the smaller bitz stay in the container.  Superclean will break down most CA type glues if soaked for a long period, so heads/hands and other lil bitz wont get lost.   This top container is essentially a tray- it holds the minis and will strain out the stripping fluid.
 Once the holes are drilled out, you just stick that container inside the other one(I shouldnt have to specify but- make sure the one WITH the holes is the one INSIDE the one WITHOUT holes) and throw in some minis you want to strip.   Most food storage types will fit 20 or 30 infantry pretty easy.  In the pic below I fit a chimera, 30 or so marines, and a few misc metal IG.  

Now,  just pour in the Superclean until the models are submerged.   Some that have hollow spaces inside them will float,  dont worry about that too much,  just flip them over the next day.  Be careful pouring the stuff- go slow so it doesnt splash and if you get any on your hands go wash it off.  It wont tear your skin off,  but it will dry it out to the extreme- and DO NOT rub your eyes.(just read the warning on the bottle so you know what you're working with)

After the Superclean is added,  put a lid on the top,  its water based so it will evaporate if you dont seal it up.  I also put a label on the container in case someone else is bumbling about my game room.  I find adding a date on the label helps keep track of how long the stuff has been soaking.   Stripping is easiest if done patiently, going faster means it takes more effort.

So,  I'll go over the rest of the process in a few days(after these dudes and chimera are ready to scrub).   The basics are simple though,  you just pull out the top container and let the fluid drain out all the holes we drilled in the bottom.  Grab an old toothbrush(stiffer bristles are better!)  and head to the kitchen sink,  rinse the minis off and start brushing the loose paint away.

If you're lucky the paint just sloughs right off.  But sometimes people use some non standard primers that are more difficult to remove- and they might need to soak more after the brushing.

If you jsut have a single container,  you just skip over the steps for drilling the holes.  The downside to single container is that you either have to use something to strain the minis out of the superclean-  or you're plucking them out of the fluid.  If you do that- vinyl/latex gloves are a good idea- as repeated dipping into the superclean will pull the oils out of your skin and dry it out to the extreme.  Basically the next day the skin on your fingers will start peeling off and its not pretty ;)

The only other warning I can think to add about superclean, is for metal miniatures.  In the unlikely event you soak them for a long period of time,  like a couple of months,  the superclean will start to nibble away the metal.  At first its just a mild roughening on the surface,  but it left for longer it will start to look like Nurgle has gotten ahold of the miniature.  I will note this isn't the fault of the superclean-  it will be the fault of the person using it for far too long.

I've used this method to strip GW plastics, metal minis of just about every make,  Privateer Press plastics,  home cast Polyurethae resins,  and Forgeworld resin models and it hasn't had any ill effects on any of them.

Some people might try to argue the SimpleGreen is better,   but it is not.  Its not as concentrated, so it either takes longer,  or for the stubborn cases just wont penetrate the stronger primers.   I've been stripping minis for well over 10 years now,  Ive tried dozens of products.  There are some that work great- but are toxic(brake fluid and nail polish remover for example) and require special disposal and handling- and only work on metals and some plastics.   If the point of stripping is to save some money- dont risk melting the minis!

For those of you outside the US that might not have Superclean available,  let me know if you have found something that works.  Ive read about Fairypower spray and dettol,  but they dont seem to be up to the same level the Superclean is.


  1. I've had good luck with superclean degreaser myself. I didn't use your system so ended up straining out chunks of crud.

    I also made the mistake of trying to reuse the the loses potency and so it takes longer and longer to strip. Just not worth it.

    I found it even removes "green stuff" 2 part putties pretty well. Certainly not a fast stripping solution in my mind (although I suspect if you had it on a rocker table or something moving frequently it would be much faster).

    1. I havent had a problem with it losing potency, Each gallon jug Ive gottten lasts for about 2 years of stripping before evaporation gets the levels too low and I have to get more.

      I cant see how rocking it would make any difference, but warming it up does. However thats not something most people can do reliably/safely.

  2. Simple Green: It works like a charm on metals and plastics. You can get it as a concentrate at Costco. A 50/50 mix with warm water was all I needed to strip several metal and plastic battlemechs in about 2 hours.

    1. Ya, maybe you didnt read my whole post? Simple Green does NOT compare to the effectiveness of Superclean. Youve stripped a few battlemechs, I've stripped thousands of 40k, fantasy and warmachine minis.

      I know Simple green is common and cheap, but leave it in the kitchen and use it as a last resort if you have no better option.

    2. Actually I did, that's why I mentioned that the concentrated stuff is available from Costco. Also, I have been doing this for over 30 years now. Just my experience. Sorry for providing input. Go ahead and delete my posts.

    3. You also forget to mention that Simple green costs about twice as much ;)

      I've tried it, along with PurplePower, Pinesol(in different flavors), CLR, oven cleaner, drain cleaner, citrus cleaners, and about a dozen other 'wonder' cleaners that worked better on the toilet than they did on minis.

      If you havent tried the Superclean and compared it side by side with the Simplegreen like I have, Im sure the green seems great.

    4. Simple Green doesn't work for me, either. I read that they changed their formula to isopropyl alcohol (?), which doesn't work at 70%. Works at 90%, if you don't mind not stripping the primer, iirc.

  3. Thanks for the post.

    I have used both simple green AND super clean, in a variety of ways and can say hands down that in my experience the super clean works much better.

    Yes, even the concentrated simple green from the hardware store. Don't get me wrong, simple green can do well on metal minis, and one some plastics - but when you encounter the ones with the really stubborn primer, super clean is the champ.

    Good idea on using a lid...the stuff does evaporate over time...and if you forget about it in the garage in the hot summer...yeah thats a mess.

    thanks for the post.

  4. In the UK I used to use Mr.Muscle Kitchen cleaner (yellow bottle) but they changed something in the formula and it ceased being of any use which is a shame cause 2 hours for metal and 24 for plastic was great. Now I use dettol, which is good and mostly safe, the problem is it tends to stick to plastic mini's and doesnt get all the paint off.

  5. thanks for the info.

    was wandering, does this method work on miniatures that have been dipped in army painter quickshade? can superclean penetrate the dip?

    1. Im not sure if any of the stuff Ive stripped has had army painter products used on it, nor have I used it myself to be familiar with what its made from.

      It had worked on minis dipped in polyurethane wood stain- which is pretty much the 'old school' budget version of what got the AB shader stuff started. If it doesnt soften the urethane itself- it should still penetrate and soften the paint underneath. It might take a few extra days, but it should get it done better than the alternative products.

  6. I've also used chopsticks to fish out, as well as plastic take-out containers with Tupperware-like sealed lids as containers. Super Clean's biodegradable and cheap enough to pour down the sink.

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