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DIY -- Remove Graffiti From a Sidewalk, Brick or Concrete

By Edited May 15, 2015 1 4

Some refer to those who leave graffiti on a surface as artists. Homeowners refer to those that spray paint their property as vandals. Graffiti artists spray paint symbols, pictures, foul words or their initials on pretty much any space they want to tag. Unfortunately, both the homeowners and their neighbors hate graffiti. Graffiti lowers property values and makes the entire neighborhood look terrible. Removing the graffiti is a must in order to restore your concrete, brick or sidewalk look good again.

Getting newly applied spray paint off a masonry surface is much easier than trying to remove paint that has dried and set. Spray paint becomes much more difficult to remove the longer it sits on the masonry surface because the solvents that are present in wet spray paint evaporate over time and tightly bond to the concrete, brick or stone. The longer the paint sits – the harder it is to remove. Fresh paint has not had as much time bonding to the masonry, which makes quick removal the key to success.

There are several methods that are used to remove graffiti from the sides of buildings, houses, stone walls, sidewalks or walkways. Start with the easy methods and work your way through the list until you have successfully removed the graffiti from the masonry surface.

Coca-Cola and Pumice

Pour a 2 liter bottle of Coca Cola into a bucket.

Fill a second small bucket with ground pumice.

Dip a scrub brush into Coca Cola and rub the graffiti mark with the soda until you wet the entire graffiti mark.

Sprinkle a light layer of ground pumice over the Coca Cola.

Dip the scrub brush back into the Coke and them immediately into the ground pumice.

Work the ground pumice and Coke into the graffiti mark. As you are scrubbing the spray painted area, scrub in a circular motion beginning at the outer edge of the paint and working your way toward the middle.

Rinse the area with clear water from a garden hose.

Continue to scrub the graffiti with Coca Cola and pumice until the spray paint is gone.

This method works best for very fresh or still wet paint.

A Tip – If you have a lot of bees, wasps or yellow jackets in the area – the Coca Cola will attract them.

Graffiti Removal – Dishwasher Detergent

Put on a pair of thick rubber gloves like the ones that are used to protect your hands when washing dishes. Put on safety goggles and old, work clothes.

Fill a bucket with very warm water and add ½ to ¾ cup of automatic dishwasher detergent to the water. The detergent can be either powdered or liquid. If you use powdered detergent, let the detergent completely dissolve before using the cleaning solution.

Stir the water and detergent with a wood stir stick to thoroughly blend the ingredients.

Submerge a stiff bristled nylon scrub brush into the detergent and water mixture or you can twist a scrub brush onto a broom handle to avoid having to bend, stoop or clean on your hands and knees.

Scrub the graffiti mark beginning at the outside border of the paint and working your way toward the center. Move the scrub brush in a circular pattern and really work the cleaner into the masonry surface for best results.

Twist a pressure nozzle onto a garden hose and aim the spray at the graffiti to clean the paint away.

Scrub the graffiti again and rinse again with the high pressure nozzle. Continue to alternate between scrubbing and spraying the masonry surface as long as the graffiti is becoming lighter. If the color does not change, move onto the next cleaning method.

Attach a pressure nozzle to a garden hose and spray the sidewalk. Continue to scrub and spray the sidewalk until the graffiti is no longer visible.

Graffiti Removal – Oven Cleaner

Put on a pair of thick rubber gloves like the ones that are used to protect your hands when washing dishes. Put on safety goggles and old, work clothes.

Spray oven cleaner onto the spray painted graffiti. Cover all of the paint liberally with the oven cleaner and about 1 inch past the outer edge.

Allow the oven cleaner to remain on the spray paint for 20 to 30 minutes.

Scrub the oven cleaner into the masonry surface with either a stiff bristled broom or nylon scrub brush.

Spray the concrete, brick or stone with a stream of water from a garden hose to rinse away the oven cleaner thoroughly.

Examine the surface to check for any remaining traces of spray paint. If the paint has lightened significantly, repeat the steps to complete the removal process. If the graffiti remains, move onto the next cleaning method.

Commercial Graffiti Removers

Choose a biodegradable graffiti removal product. If you cannot find a biodegradable graffiti removal product – chemical ones are highly effective although much more harsh to work with. Basically these paint removers are made of the same chemicals that are found in paint strippers, but they are specifically made for concrete, brick, stone or other masonry surfaces.

Apply the graffiti remover to the spray paint either by spraying or brushing on depending on the remover you have chosen. Let the remover remain on the masonry surface for as long as the manufacturer directs – usually 15 to 30 minutes.

Rinse the bricks, stone or concrete thoroughly with clear water from a garden hose.

Fill a bucket with warm water and add a very generous squirt of liquid dish washing soap.

Stir the soap and water to blend thoroughly.

Dip a clean scrub brush or stiff bristle broom into the soapy water and scrub the bricks, concrete, stone or other masonry surface to remove any chemical stripper residue.

Some chemical based graffiti removers cannot be allowed to drain into gutters or sewers. You may have to collect the cleaning water as you are cleaning to prevent it from entering the sewer system. You would then have to contact the hazardous waste disposal department for instructions on disposing of the contaminated water, which is why it is better to look for and environmentally friendly, biodegradable alternative.

 

Krud Kutter GR01 Clear Graffiti Remover with Sweet Odor, 1 Gallon
Amazon Price: $38.70 $22.72 Buy Now
(price as of May 15, 2015)
Nelson High-Pressure Rated Industrial Twist Nozzle 50500
Amazon Price: $15.99 $6.89 Buy Now
(price as of May 15, 2015)
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Comments

May 17, 2012 8:42am
JudyE
These are really good tips, Jack. You have to worry when Coke will take out paint stains though.
May 17, 2012 9:13am
Jack_Luca
Yes, it's the citric acid along with the abrasive ground pumice that works to clean wet paint.
May 23, 2012 4:17pm
eileen
Great tips for cleaning them off. Knowing the right way to do these things makes life a lot easier. thanks for the tips.
May 24, 2012 5:28am
Jack_Luca
Thanks Eileen! Using the right products ensures success.
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