How to Remove Primer from Skin-Without Chemicals!! {Painting Tip}

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Warning: This post contains photos of short stubby hands that have never seen a professional manicure. Those of you with a heightened sense of fashion may find them disturbing. Proceed at your own risk. 😉

I am a messy painter. I’m a messy cook too for that matter. I am pretty much always wearing an apron so I don’t ruin all of my clothes. Because there are not very many days in my existence that I am not cooking or painting, or working on some other craft project.

I am always getting paint on my hands. Latex based paint is not hard to get off, it washes right off with some soap and water. But primer? That is an entirely different story my friends. It is a challenge to remove. When I painted my kitchen last month, I got primer all over my hands.    Could.  Not.  Get.  It. Off.  I asked my twitter buddies if they had any clever ideas for removing primer from skin. I got replies from everything to nail polish remover and GooGone, to using a belt sander. (Um, thanks Char.)

I tried the nail polish remover and the GooGone. Not the belt sander. They worked, but I still had to do a fair amount of skin scraping. And deal with the nasty chemical smell. Then last week I had to go back and paint my window frame because I missed it the first time around. When I was finished, my hands looked something like this:
diy-painting-trickdiy-painting-trickI’m not a huge fan of using chemicals on my skin, so I wanted to use something else. I remembered that the oil in peanut butter can remove gum. I wondered if oil would help remove primer. So I poured about a teaspoon of vegetable oil in my hands and rubbed it around. Then I added a squirt of soap and some water and lathered up. And guess what?

The oil and soap mixture removed the primer better than any of the chemicals I tried!!!

I had to do a fair amount of rubbing, but I did not have to scrape the primer off. And every drop came off:
diy-painting-trickdiy-painting-trick Is that awesome or what?!!

Disclaimer: The makers of vegetable oil did not compensate me in any way for recommending their product as a paint remover. In fact, they are still under the assumption that I am buying their product to actually make food.


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  2. I read every other suggestion, but the naturals of oil and soap and the abrasive side of a kitchen sponge worked like magic. My hands are soft and very clean. Your suggestion is a lifesaver. Thank you so much

  3. thanx a bunch
    i did a job with latex mixed with primer and it wont come of with any thing and like u i hate chamicals
    so this is a great tip thanx again

  4. Thank you!! My husband dipped his hands in to pick out a latex layer that had formed over old paint, and thought it would wash off with water.
    To his horror it is both gunky and sticky and wouldn’t come off even after i got him acetone.
    I googled and this came up.
    Needless to say, we are very grateful.
    Little tip, but so good!

  5. Nicscrappy says

    Let’s just say you SAVED my 2 girls & my lives. We had just bought a leather couch Saturday and my 11yr old had oil-based primer on her shorts (painting an Ikea unit in the garage). She got several spots on the new couch! The 9yr old said something and I heard it upstairs (my husband in the same room!). I had read your article & the 9yr old had already scrubbed off paint using your idea, so we each grabbed a paper towel, dipped a lil in vegetable oil & rubbed away. It took some elbow grease, but it’s gone!!! And husband won’t know the difference!!! This article was a God send, so THANK YOU!!

  6. From one messy painter to another baby oil works well too. And it smells better!

  7. THANK YOU! I didn’t want to go to store to buy mineral spirits.

    • Nicscrappy says

      I am the same! I don’t want extra cans of schtuff sitting around if I can use something I already have.

  8. Wow, this is a great trick! I used vegetable oil and sensitive skin soap, rubbed with the abrasive side of the sponge, and–like magic–the oil based primer all over my hands is gone.Thank you.

  9. I am so glad I found this. I stupidly forgot that the primer we bought was latex based and got it all over my hands, I started breaking out in hives before I realize what was happening. This got it off quick! Thank you times a million!

  10. Angelina Wright says

    You are too cute! And I think your hands are adorable in fact. Thanks for the helpful tip!

  11. This worked on black primer that I had all over my hands. Thanks so much! The plus side is my cuticles are now moisturized as well.

  12. Just did this. I scrubbed with a washcloth because my hands were totally covered in primer. It worked great! Thanks!

  13. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I am allergic to just about everything and was very worried that I would have to put acetone or mineral spirits on my hands to get the primer off, which gives me terrible rashes. I’m so glad I found this when I googled

  14. I love your “short stubby hands” because they are perfectly clean and now mine are too! Decided to prime my bathroom cabinets today half way. Flip and do the rest tomorrow. Usually I am scraping my hands for a week. I have a piano lesson today and needed clean hands hick and pain free. Genius!

  15. Thank you so much for this tip!! I have sensitive skin and allergies and was really wondering how I’d get this primer off of myself. You really save me! Thanks!

  16. Sheer genius! After having a scoop of peanut butter (it was mentioned and I was hungry), I used canola oil, soap and water…it saved my hands! Now, all I need is a manicure. Thank you for the tip!

  17. Anonymous says

    it really does work i used olive oil and liquid dishsoap, rub oil in then rub soap in works best, have to rinse and repeat and scrub, but it is the only thing ive found that works. thanks, I thought i was stuck with white hands till it wore off, yikes. thanks

  18. Veggie oil also take pine gum out of hair really well…probably off skin as well.

  19. Kara,
    Thank you for sharing this! I have a bit o’ painting in my future and I am always interested in finding alternatives to using harmful chemicals. Awesome. BTW I have been a silent admirer or your creativity for a while now, I figured I should introduce myself!

  20. That is a great trick. I used it while painting with oil based paints but added some salt so that it would scrub any tough areas.

  21. That is hilarious! I loved the warning and disclaimer! Ha!

  22. this is awesome!
    I’m totally going to try this!

  23. I had totally forgotten about that conversation. And I just laughed right out loud remembering it. You need better friends than me. 😉

  24. Good idea! We primed our bathroom recently and I was able to get the primer off my skin with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Amazing! It worked especially well on my nails. Thanks for sharing!

  25. Too bad I can’t put vegetable oil on my couch that has a little paint smeared on it thanks to some little grubby “helpful” hands 🙁

  26. Good to know! I am also a messy painter and a messy cook!

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