If you’re getting ready to refinish old furniture or repaint old window frames, you’ll probably need to remove the previous paint first.

If the previous paint was oil or latex, then it contains chemicals that will be released into the air once the scraping and sanding begin. And most paint strippers and solvents emit strong fumes that will add to the chemicals you may end up inhaling.

Remove Paint & Stain Safely

Sanding & scraping the old paint
  • At the very least, wear a quality dust mask to block the dust. To kick it up a notch, spend a few extra dollars on a respirator equipped with a HEPA filter.
  • Always wear goggles to protect your eyes.
  • After sanding, leave the room for several hours and close the door behind you.
  • Do not vacuum or sweep the dust once it settles. Mop it with damp paper towels and discard in the trash.
Choose a non-toxic paint stripper
  • Choose a non-toxic paint stripper that is biodegradable and does not contain methylene chloride.
  • Even non-toxic paint strippers are caustic (otherwise they wouldn’t remove the paint), so always wear rubber gloves and goggles.
  • Spot test a small and inconspicuous area first to make sure the paint remover does not damage the surface.
  • Non-toxic paint stripper can be discarded with the regular household trash when the job is done.
Protect your lungs, when using a heat gun to remove old paint
  • A heat gun will blister and peel several layers of paint at once, releasing layers of chemicals into the air. Always wear a chemical cartridge respirator as you work.
  • If you are indoors, open the windows and face a fan toward the outdoors to avoid filling the house with chemical fumes.
Safely remove lead paint
  • If you live in a home built before 1978 in the US, or before 1989 in the EU, then the old paint likely contains lead.
  • Let a professional handle the scraping and sanding, if it’s in the budget.
  • Otherwise follow these instructions by the EPA.

Good To Know

  • Pregnant and nursing women should always leave the removal of old paint to someone else.
  • Pregnant and nursing women should never handle chemical paint removers or lead paint.
  • Consider repainting with natural paints as a safe and chemical-free alternative to oil or latex.

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