Tips for Removing Plasti Dip Once You Realize It Looks Terrible

Plasti Dip'ing can get you good results. But practically speaking, very few people will get there.

I know some people have done amazing things with Plasti Dip, but I hate the stuff. While recognizing that it can be a cheap way to give owners a modicum of control and customization for their rides, but in my opinion, it rarely looks good. Luckily, usually, it’s not too hard to get rid of.

Sometime in the mid-to-late 2000s the prevalence of a little thing called “YouTube” found a home for detailers and other home auto mechanics to show off their skills. It’s not entirely clear who had the idea first, but seemingly overnight Plasti Dip went from an old fogey product meant for protecting tools to a way to turn your Honda Civic riding on cut springs into a Day-Glo orange stiff-riding shitbox.

Obviously I’m not the first person to have an opinion about Plasti Dip. Remember when Donut Media did a video about how much it sucks, Dip Your Car clapped back, legions of Plasti Dip fans were mad, and Donut did an apology follow-up on doing dip right? If you take your time and prep perfectly, Plasti Dip’ing can get you good results. But practically speaking, very few people will get there.

The vast majority of Plasti Dip’d vehicle parts seem to be done in matte black… and done hastily by people who couldn’t be bothered to read all the instructions on the can. It looks OK for a few weeks, then the Dip becomes ashy and dusty, making the car look perpetually dirty. I don’t like Dip’ed door handles or pieces, either – it makes the car look like a base trim from the 1990s, back when manufacturers would punish you for being cheap by installing unpainted parts to let everyone know how much of a cheap-ass you were. 

Tips for Removing Plasti Dip Once You Realize It Looks Terrible
A Scion tC, owned by me, circa 2017. – Image: Kevin Williams

My Hyundai Tiburon project had a few parts Dip’ed: Namely the wheels and fuel door, and I knew it would only drag down the street value of the car if I left it on.

So how do you really get the stuff off? There are a few ways to go about it. Some YouTube videos insist that you can just get your nail underneath the Plasti Dip, then just rip it off in one piece. In my experience, that’s seldom the case. The Dip bonds and holds to different surfaces, and different parts of the same surface (depending on how it was applied) at different rates. If you try that, you’ll notice that some pieces may rip right off, but other are stuck. Some Plasti Dip’ers put in additives to their mix, to make sure the Dip sticks to the surface and lasts longer.

My preferred method for removing Plasti Dip from wheels is a good old-fashioned power washer. Water pressure will work its way between the wheel’s surface, and the latex-like layer of Dip, blowing it off. Using a 3,100 PSI power washer and a “zero degree” nozzle that focuses that pressure to a very narrow point, I was able to make quick work of the Plasti Dip on my Tiburon’s wheels. 

Video: Kevin Williams

Be careful though, I accidentally blasted a hole in my driveway, too. My pressure washer is a bit insane, you can probably get similar results with a less powerful washer.

It isn’t perfect though, some of my Plasti Dip was stubborn and even 3,100 PSI wasn’t enough to blast it off. I still had little bits of Dip on some of the spokes and I still needed to remove it from the gas cap.

Online, a few stores advertise solvents that remove Plasti Dip. I didn’t want to wait for those, and they seemed kind of expensive for what they were. I kept researching, where I learned via Reddit and YouTube, that Goo Gone is excellent for removing Plasti Dip.

It was hard work; each wheel had a not-insignificant amount of Plasti Dip trapped in the spokes. I started by applying the Goo Gone to the affected areas, then letting it sit. After some time, the remaining Plasti Dip would become kind of tacky and loose, and then I could scrub it off with a gentle scouring pad, or soft bristle brush. I chose to do this in the dead of winter for some reason, only 30 degrees Fahrenheit outside. It felt as if the Goo Gone took forever to loosen the Plasti Dip – warmer weather likely would have made this entire process easier.

Tips for Removing Plasti Dip Once You Realize It Looks Terrible
Image: Kevin Williams

I used the same technique on the gas cap; applied Goo Gone, then scrubbed away with a mild scouring pad or wire brush.

Tips for Removing Plasti Dip Once You Realize It Looks Terrible
Image: Kevin Williams

It took quite some time, about 30 minutes per wheel, and an additional 30 minutes just the gas cap.

I think it was worth it, though The result makes the car look cleaner as if it were cared for, instead of jam-packed full of cigarettes and cheap cinnamon whisky.

If you’ve dealt with Dip and have more tips on removal, the comment section’s wide open and we’d love more ideas!

Kevin Williams

Kevin WilliamsKevin's been into cars his entire life, anything from the tiny kei cars in Japan, to the maybe not-so-good American barges of the 1980s. He's flipped more than 25 cars, only lost money twice, and has known how to make his dollar stretch as far as it can. If he ain't talking about cars, he's probably snacking on something sweet and cakey. Contact the author here.