I was thinking about all the mistakes I had made decades ago in dealing with the removal of paint from hardware where caustic cleaners gave metals unwanted coloration or wire brushes destroyed the finishes. It was not until several years ago that I learned of a simple technique using three common products found in every home – a slow cooker, laundry detergent and water.
Using a slow-cooker (Crock-Pot or whatever the brand), add water and several drops of laundry detergent. Cook the metal parts on a medium heat (if you have a choice) for anywhere from an hour to several (depends on the thickness of the paint and type). You’ll witness that the paint sloughs off, usually leaving a little in deep crevices. To avoid scratching the finish, clean crevices with a toothpick, toothbrush, dental picks or other detail tool. If only the first layers came off, try a second round.
Before you start, take a few preventative measures.
- Use a high temperature plastic bag as a liner for the slow-cooker. Available at grocery stores, they will prevent scratches and contamination.
- Wear insulated rubber gloves found at many hardware and home goods stores. They will enable you to hold the hot parts more comfortably.
- Use a set of tongs to remove each part from the hot bath.
- Wear eye protection. Flying bits of paint (often lead-based) can’t help your eyesight.
- Do this where you have reasonable ventilation. The cooked goop can have a wretched smell and there is no point stinking up the room or house.
Do you have a question about house restoration or remodeling? Let’s see if we can figure it out. Write me at David@DavidPhaff.com.