Paint Stripping Metal Miniatures

Paint Stripping

So along with the ebay purchases sometimes one ends up having to get things painted because virgin unpainted models are a rarer thing to come by. This has been my first trip into paint stripping as in the past I was always happy to purchase new models and thankfully the process is very simple with metal.

What you need:

Dettol — my paint stripping chemical of choice in the UK; if you look around you’ll find there’s a variety of other brands or chemicals you can use instead of

2 Worn Toothbrushes

Jam jars or similar small containers

2 Small Trays or bowls

1 Pair of rubber washing gloves

Pack of tooth picks

Scalpel or similar pointed tip blade

1 bowl of warm soapy water


1) Prep the models for stripping. Remove any base from the models if that base has flock or other small debris material upon it. Stripping chemicals will weaken glue bonds and the last thing you want is your models covered in little bits and flecks. At this stage I also test the bonds on the joints, applying a little force to see if any break (not so much that you bend the metal). This is just to help packing the most amount of metal into the smallest container as that means you won’t have to use as much chemical to cover them.

2) Put the models into the container and give them a little shake; you’re trying here to settle the models into the lowest profile possible so that you can use the least amount of Dettol. Once settled pour the Dettol in until they are covered.

3) Leave for at least 24 hours in a well ventilated area (ideally in a shed or somewhere out of the way). You can sometimes cut down and leave them for less time if you’re rushed, but personally I’d say always leave as long as you possibly can. You can even leave them in for a few days or weeks, the longer the better in general as that weakens the paint up and helps to get into all the little cracks.

4) Once they’ve sat for a while the paint will appear to rise up on the metal and the liquid will become more cloudy. Bring the models over and tip the contents gently into one of the trays. (remember to wear the rubber gloves at this stage)

5) With the other tray fill it partly with clean Dettol, this is now your rinsing bowl.

6) Take the worn toothbrush (a different one to the one you use to clean resin model if you happen to) and begin to scrub the models clean, the paint should come off without much trouble. Be careful around any joints as they might break very easily now and you don’t want to drop and lose bits. Where needed also use the tooth picks and the scalpel blade to just pick out any black specks of paint in any recesses of the model that resist the scrubbing. Chances are you won’t get them all out 100%, but a long soak time and using all the tools and you should get all but the worst out. The tooth picks work well to start, but the tips will go blunt from the Dettol and wet environment, which means you’ll go through a few when cleaning; the blade is there only as a final tool for getting the worst out.

During the process I also like to dip the toothbrush into the rinsing Dettol so that you’re working with clean Dettol on the model itself.

7) Once cleaned and scrubbed leave to drip mostly dry to one side and then rinse in the rinsing Dettol; use the cleaning tools again if needed and then leave to dry again. You can use kitchen roll to help wipe the worst of the Dettol off to speed things up here.

8) Once fully cleaned and dry only then come in and wash the models with warm lightly soapy water and the other worn toothbrush (just like you would for Resin models). You only want to do this as the last stage because any contact with water where there is still Dettol on the model will cause it to become sticky and then a nightmare to wash off.

Note Dettol won’t harm you if you get it on your fingers, but it will dry them out. Working with rubber gloves is strongly advised, but note chances are if you’re working with anything that has spikes you might get tears or rips in them (so don’t use your best gloves).

Once done you’ll now have a shiny new series of models ready to assemble and paint up. Note check for mold lines and treat them much the same as you would a brand new model; you’ll be amazed how many people don’t clean off mold lines from the models they own. You will also find that there is often dried glue in the joints where they’ve become separated – use a sharp blade (scalpel) to scrape the glue off then score the joint ready for re-glueing.




1) Is Dettol harmful?

It’s a concentrated antiseptic so on your hands it shouldn’t have any problems. Clearly avoid eye contact and do not drink. A note is that the bottle also recommends not using around cats.

2) What happens if I leave the models in the solution for a very long period of time?

The solution might go tacky/thick but otherwise with metal models there won’t be any harm done. Simply let as much drip off as possible and then rinse as normal in more Dettol (do no use water). Note try to avoid leaving in areas where you’ll get strong condensation as the water from that might enter the solution and increase the tackyness/goopyness.

3) Can I use this for resin or plastic models?

Far as I can find yes you can, I’ve not done it myself with either and I would check before trying. Also remember that there are various formula’s for plastics and resins and that as a result you might damage your models if they are made of a certain kind. Ask around and see if anyone else has tried and what worked for them

4) What can I do if I get a lot of tacky residue that is hard to shift?

I’ve read (but not tried) that you can use methylated spirits to clean the model. Just use it to rinse the model off instead of the Dettol.

Source –




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