How to Remove Oil Based Paints from Skin Safely

washing hands


You have just completed your weekend project.  Either you painted some furniture or that sculpture you recently completed.  In your haste and excitement you forgot to don the rubber gloves and your hands have spots of oil based alkyd paint all over them.

The traditional method most would clean there hands with is mineral spirits.  I say NO because there is a better and safer way.  Mineral spirits is a petroleum based solvent and just like other industrial solvents, can dry and irritate the skin due to a defatting action.  Whats more is that solvents may have toxic contaminants and solvents can be absorbed through your skin like throwing a bucket of water through a window screen.    I will inform you how you can remove the stains with items you already have in your kitchen and keep your hands moisturized, clean, and healthy.


The active stripper and solvent used is soybean oil.  This is interesting due to the fact that most oil based alkyd paints are made from modified soybean oil blended with polyester resins.  As long as the paint is not completely dries this oil should start softening the paint on your skin.  The vegetable oil is not much different in composition that the fat that naturally occurs under your skin.  This will help to retain moisture and prevent cracking.


Soybean oil by itself cannot be rinsed off with water.  You need a detergent that both emulsifies fats and oils and completely dissolves in water.  Ideally the detergent should be concentrated yet gentle enough to use on exposed skin.  And the common detergent that meets all these criteria is Dawn dish detergent.  I have known the power of dish soap for decades.  In fact it trumps the power of laundry detergent.  I have frequently used it to pretreat stubborn stains before washing.  Maybe you have seen the advertisment where Dawn was used to clean distressed animals contaminated by catastrophic oil spills.  If Dawn can break through crude petrol, it surely can gently remove a little soybean oil from your hands.  Also, it might pick up the stubborn oil paint stains not picked up by the vegetable oil.


One thought on “How to Remove Oil Based Paints from Skin Safely

  1. […] How to Remove Oil Based Paints from Skin Safely […]

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