Saturday, December 7, 2013

How to Clean Built-up Paint Off a Small Stencil

I've been using my logo stencil on nearly everything I make lately and the paint had really began to build up. Many stencilists recommend scrubbing stencils under running water but I have some delicate stencil bridges and didn't want to go that route. I remember using denture tablets to remove hard water stains from flower vases when I was the activity director at a nursing home. 

I decided to give good old Efferdent a try. While looking for a link to the brand [and to be sure I spelled it right without getting up to see] I discovered a coupon on the Efferdent website. I already had it on hand so no discount for me. I figured if Efferdent can clean dirty dentures and hard water stains, why not paint too? I just knew it would work. 

I soaked the stencil in water with several squeezes of Dawn Dish Soap [to act as as surfactant] overnight on a dinner plate. I didn't use a lot of water, just enough to keep the stencil wet.  Denture tablets can be toxic if consumed so I held off on the tablets until the morning due to my kitten, Salem, who gets into everything.

This morning I added 4 Efferdent tablets. You could use something cheaper like Equate from Walmart but it's not as effective so you'd need to use double the amount if you go that route. The built up paint will soften and you'll be able to lift off layers with your nail or implement. You can rinse the stencil by putting a cookie sheet in the sink at an angle to support the stencil and rinsing it with water.

Be sure to use a wire strainer to prevent the paint layers from going down the drain. Just two hours later with a little nail picking you can see the stencil is much cleaner. This is a professional stencil that could be cleaned with something much stronger so I'm going to let it soak a little more. 

I wish I'd taken a "before" photo but I think you can see how to do it. I got a ton of paint layers and am glad I had a wire strainer on hand to stop the congealed paint from clogging up the plumbing. 

FYI Efferdent doesn't know I exist and I was not compensated in any way for this post. I wrote to help fellow crafters out. 


  1. Thanks Kitty, what a great idea, I can so see where it would work!


    1. Thanks Carol. This was a real timesaver. I have other logo stencils [it was cheaper to get duplicates when I bought this one] but I didn't have to dig for them plus I know this one will eventually wear out so I'm prolonging the usable life. I think this would work for other messes we create along the way too.

  2. I. Havé discovered a better stencil cleaner... Being an artist in trompe loeil and free hand artist use variety of stencils on body work for me to build upon. Here is what I found to work like crazy. I took a cascade dish soap pellet and threw it in a tub of boiling water with the stencils soaking in them. You will find the paint build up. Melting off the stencils making a cleaning job once so stressful a calm relaxing joy to clean.

    Beautiful work here, happy holidays.


    1. Thank you for that idea. Did you use mylar stencils? I've also heard of using oven cleaner but didn't want to try that inside.

    2. Doré, I tried your suggestion with dishwashing liquid and hot but not boiling water. It worked like a charm. Thank you so much!