How To Remove Paint From Copper Pipes (AVOID Doing This!)

You have just finished repainting your home to give it a fresh look. You have also repainted all the pipes that are exposed and visible. But you suddenly notice some copper pipes have some paint on them too. 

You try scraping off the paint, but it is not coming off. What do you do now? You don’t need to panic! This can be fixed easily! There are ways to remove paint from copper pipes so they look new again. Below we discuss how you can do that. These methods also work if there is a lot of paint on the pipes.

Try Scraping

If the paint is still wet, you can use a rag or an old piece of clothing to remove it.

Scraping off the paint from the copper pipes is the first thing you should try if scraping alone is enough to remove it. You will probably be able to get off the paint without any chemicals if you are lucky. 

Use sanding paper with a fine grain. Make sure that you don’t scratch the copper.

If scraping off the paint does not work, then you will have to try other things. 

Brush your copper pipes with steel wool. This will remove the paint and leave the pipes clean. 

Using Vinegar

If you want to remove the paint from the copper pipes, you can also use vinegar. This will help loosen the paint from the pipes and make it easier to remove. Pour vinegar on the copper pipes. 

Leave it on the pipes for about 10 minutes. Scrub off the paint with a brush after 10 minutes. Vinegar contains acetic acid, which will help break down the paint and make it easier to remove.

Cleaning copper is often quite straightforward

Some types of paint are harder to remove than others. Make sure that you don’t put too much pressure on the copper pipes as this can make them sag. This can lead to water leaks or other problems.

Be careful as vinegar can drip all over your walls and floors, leading to discolored walls or floor. 

Using Baking Soda

Baking soda is another abrasive cleaner that you can use to remove the paint from the copper pipes. This is another option that you can try if scraping and sanding alone do not work. 

Mix baking soda with water to create a paste. Cover the copper pipes with the paste and leave it on the pipes for 10 minutes. Scrub off the paint with a brush or a sponge after 10 minutes. Baking soda works by lifting the paint off the copper pipes.

This mainly works for cheaper paints as these are often easier to remove. 

Using a paint thinner or remover

There are specific products on the market for this kind of situation. These paint thinners can be quite aggressive so check if yours can be used on copper. Wear the right protective equipment when you work with this. You can also install pieces of plastic around the pipe to make sure that it doesn’t drip on your floor or wall as this can lead to stains. 

These products work quite fast and you can get great results with them. To finish things, you can use some steel wool to get your copper pipes shining again! 

Some parts of a copper pipe can be harder to reach. It might be needed to cut the pipe open and remove it if you want to remove all the paint on it. It is possible to send the pipe to a specialized company to get it cleaned.

 You can then use push fittings to reinstall the pipes. It is important that you drain all the water from the pipes before you do this!

This is done by opening the nearby faucets and closing the nearby valve or the main water supply. Make sure to reinstall the supports as copper is quite heavy and can sag if you don’t provide enough support for the pipes. 

A plumber can help you with this if needed. 

Using heat to remove paint from a copper pipe

Most plumbers have a fire torch as this is sometimes used to install the connections (or fittings) between the copper pipes.

This torch can be used to heat up the paint on the pipe and remove it. This is quite challenging though as you can burn the copper. If there is water inside the pipe, it can boil and cause damage to the copper. 

For these reasons, this approach is only recommended for advanced DIY’ers as it can result in dangerous situations or a lot of damage. 

Using Citric acid

Citric acid is a natural cleaners that you can use to remove the paint from the copper pipes. They work by dissolving the paint and making it easier to remove.

Cover the copper pipes with the paste and leave it on the pipes for 10 minutes. Scrub off the paint with a brush after 10 minutes.

Check the instructions of the citric acid to see if it can be used on copper.


 You can remove the paint from the copper pipes by scraping, sanding, using vinegar, using baking soda, or a special product. These methods will help you remove the paint without damaging the pipes.

Copper pipes can last a long time if you take proper care of them. In this post, we have outlined how to remove paint from them. Some of these approaches are quite simple. You can get specialized products for this and be done with it in a few minutes. 

Once this is done, you can repaint or insulate the copper pipes as you see fit. Inspect the fittings and copper pipe to make sure that there are not leaks before you do this.