Most Easy Ways to Remove Oil Paint From Canvas?

When working on any flat surface, you can easily remove the oil paint from it. You can easily scratch off the oil paint that is wet with the help of a non-serrated crafting knife or palette knife. The same is also applicable for dried oil paint on any smooth surface.

However, when it comes to canvas, you are dealing with a porous surface. So, the process of removing the oil paint cannot be as easy as it is with a smooth surface.

When painting with oil paint, it is common even for experienced artists to make a mistake. So, how would you remove the oil paint from your canvas? Let us get into the details of the process.

remove Oil Paint From Canvas


Depending on whether the oil paint has dried off or is wet, you can remove the paint from the canvas. Some painters choose to paint over dried oil paint. And, this can affect the tint of the final paint after it has dried. If this is the effect you seek, you can surely go for it.

However, if you can deal with the extra effort, you can remove the old paint for a cleaner painting experience.

A dried coat tends to be difficult to remove and must require the use of a high-quality solvent for the purpose. Scrubbing with the help of mineral spirits or paint thinner is the way you can go about it. Another known way is to use chemical oil paint strippers.

Wet oil paint is easier to remove from the canvas but not as easy as acrylic paints. You can simply wipe it off with the help of a wet sponge or warm water and slowly dab it onto the surface to get rid of the colors.

How to Remove Oil Paint from Canvas?

If you wish to remove oil paint from canvas, the key is to follow the methods explained below. You can choose any of these methods as you see fit for your painting requirements.

Read Also: Easy Tips on How to Remove Oil Paint from Clothes

Step-1: Check The Paint

The first thing you need to do is check whether the paint is still wet or completely dry. If the paint is completely dry, it would require you to use the methods described below. If the paint is wet, the removal process becomes easier and faster.

To get rid of the wet oil paint, all you need to do is follow the given steps:

  • Take a clean white cotton cloth (preferably white) and soak it in a gentle soapy solution. Now, dab this cloth on the excess paint and let the soapy solution soak on the colors.
  • You can also spread the cloth on top of the paint if the area is larger.
  • You can also soak the cloth in olive oil and dish soap solution to achieve a similar effect. You will notice that a lot of grime would come off when you implement this method. If your paint has a thick impasto, it needs to be handled gently to avoid the impasto from breaking.
  • Finally, touch the paint to check if it has become wet completely. If it sticks to your fingers, it is ready to remove.
  • Use the very same cloth to gently rub off the oil paint from the canvas. Give a final swap and allow the canvas to completely dry out before you start painting over it again.
  • You might see some tint on the canvas, but you can use white gesso on the canvas to even out the tint.

Step-2: Use Palette Knife

If you see that the paint is completely wet, another way you can remove the same is with the help of a palette knife. This method works on both dry and wet oil paint. There might be a fear of smudging with wet paint, but you need to be slow to get rid of the issue.

So, touch the paint, and if it sticks to your fingers, it is still wet. Standard oil paint can take about a week or more to dry, depending on its thickness.

Now, place your painting on canvas on top of a flat surface to start the scraping process. Take a non-serrated butter/craft knife or palette knife and slowly start scraping the oil paint away.

It works efficiently on completely wet paint, but if your paint is slightly dry or completely dry as well, it is possible to get rid of the same with the help of a palette knife.

Start by slowly scraping off the oil paint from the canvas. There will be some smudging on the canvas, but you can clean it off with the help of clean cloth dipped in soapy water solution.

Step-3: Take Help Of X-Acto Knife

If your oil paint has dried off completely, you can scrape off the same with the help of an x-actor knife. Make sure you are careful about it and do not be too harsh during the scraping process.

Make sure you are careful enough to avoid any wearing or tearing of the canvas fabric. Scraping in layers is the key to achieving perfection with the oil-paint removal process. An x-acto knife tends to be sharp at its tip, so make sure you use it carefully.

Step-4: Use Turpentine

Dried oil paint can easily be removed with the help of a turpentine solution. It is a traditional solvent that helps soften the oil paint on canvas and with the dissolution of paint. It is derived from a tree-based resin that comes with a fast rate of evaporation.

However, it might release harmful vapors during the application and drying process. So, you need to do this process in a well-ventilated space or wear a mask as required. Moreover, it also has the potential to be absorbed via the skin.

So, you can wear a good-quality glove to keep your hands protected. This is especially important if your skin is sensitive.

Step-5: Dry The Area And Paint

As far as the already painted canvas surface doesn’t have any dust or grease, you can easily paint on any old painting as long as it has completely dried off. Try and scrape off as much oil paint as possible with the help of the x-acto knife and paint on top of the remaining surface.

If you plan on doing the same, the effort might not be worth it as the oil paint underneath might pull through the fresh paint, which might cause cracks. A trick to avoid this cracking issue is to add thick and fat layers of titanium white that will help soften the old oil paint.

Once the paint becomes soft, remove the old paint with the help of fine-grit, high-quality sandpaper.

  • After you have chosen a method of your choice and you are done with the oil paint removal process, give the canvas a final wipe with the help of a clean cloth.

Finally, let the canvas dry in an airy space and paint on it again once the surface has completely dried off.


  • When using turpentine, make sure you wear your safety gear to prevent the solvent from doing you any harm.
  • Turpentine can release harmful and toxic gases. So, make sure you wear a mask and work in a well-ventilated space.
  • When using an x-acto knife, make sure you are careful with the sharp tip. You might accidentally cut yourself or cut the canvas fabric. So, take your time in the process of removing the oil paint from your canvas.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: What is the easiest way to remove oil paint?

The easiest process to remove oil paint from any surface, including canvas, is via kerosene herbs, solvents, or any thinner. Dip a clean cloth in this solution and gently dab it on the canvas to soften, and then wipe off the leftover paint.

Q: Does vinegar remove oil-based paint?

Vinegar is a great choice when it comes to removing oil-based paint. It helps dissolve both oil-based as well as water-based paint from metal, canvas, or wooden surfaces. It functions as a natural oil-paint remover.

Q: Can you scrape oil paint off a canvas?

Yes, you can scrape oil paint off a canvas. Start by placing your oil painting on any flat surface. Pick a non-serrated or palette knife and start by slowly scraping off the wet or dry oil paint.

How to remove dry oil paint from canvas?

To remove dry oil paint from the canvas, the key is to place a clean cloth or paper towel soaked in denatured alcohol on the section of your canvas that requires the paint to be removed. Continue to do so until all the paint is removed.

Final Word

Cleaning off oil paint after it has dried off can be a tiring task. So, if you wish to remove the oil paint from the canvas, the best move is to do so when it is wet. Even if it has dried off, the methods explained above can help a lot.

Related Content:

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

Recent Posts