Office space with plants

How To Remove Graffiti

13th Dec 2022
Written by: phs Interclean

Graffiti can be a powerful form of self-expression. However, unless it’s done with permission, it’s also vandalism. And if the artwork in question is on your property, the chances are you’re not too happy about it.  

Unfortunately, despite being illegal, graffiti can be prolific with estimates of £1bn being spent per year on the clean-up bill. Unfortunately, anyone can be the target of graffiti and until it’s cleaned up, it can create a blight on your property; being off putting, sometimes offensive and certainly not giving off the first impression you work so hard to achieve.  

As it’s often painted on porous surfaces such as brickwork and stone, graffiti can be hard to remove. However, it’s not impossible if you have the right equipment and know what you’re doing. As cleaning professionals, phs Interclean have both and here we’ll share some of our top tips for graffiti removal. So, whether you’re asking how to remove graffiti from a wall, how to remove it from your building or if you’re in need of professional help, you’re in the right place. 

Is graffiti illegal? 

Anyone caught graffitiing can be prosecuted under Section 1 of the Criminal Damage Act 1971. If the damage caused by graffiti is less than £5,000, offenders can face a fine of up to £2,500 or three months in prison. If the damage exceeds £5,000, the punishment can be as high as 10 years’ imprisonment. Offenders can also be prosecuted under the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003 which gives local authorities power to issue spot fines to anyone caught graffitiing public property. It is also illegal to sell spray paint to under 16s. Anyone selling spray paint to an under 16 can be fined as much as £2,500.  

Should you report graffiti? 

Yes, you should report graffiti immediately to your local police. Call 101.  

How can you prevent graffiti? 

If a graffiti artist is determined to paint on your property, there’s little you can do to stop it. However, you can deter them from doing so with a few simple measures.  

  • A good security system is the ultimate deterrent, including a motion-sensor alarm, lights and CCTV. If this doesn’t prevent the offender from graffitiing your property, at least you’ll have well-lit footage to hand over to the police.  
  • Where possible, install locked gates and fences to limit access to the property. Planting bushes and shrubbery in front of walls can also hinder access.  
  • Darker colours on walls and fences mean that spray paints aren’t likely to stand out as much as lighter colours – so may not be as attractive a target.  
  • Clean up any graffiti quickly. A graffiti artist is often looking for recognition so removing the artwork quickly, minimises this – and it will also be easier to clean. 

How to Remove Graffiti

How to remove graffiti from bricks, stone and concrete? 

As a porous and uneven surface, spray paint seeps into brick, stone and concrete making it difficult to wipe away.  

If the paint is still wet, act fast and try to wipe it away with an absorbent cloth. Remove as much as you can by soaking it up and try to avoid smearing the paint onto surrounding clean areas. If the paint has already dried, first try to scrape it off using a paint scraper.  

Next, use a solvent such as white spirit which is easy to come by. You may need to give the wall a real scrub and use several applications. After you’ve used the white spirit, you’ll then need to use a degreaser to remove the residue it leaves.  

White spirit is a solvent and is flammable with excessive exposure potentially leading to adverse health effects. Therefore, during this process, take care to protect yourself by wearing gloves, cover your clothing, use eyewear to prevent it splashing into your eyes and try to avoid inhaling the fumes. Alternatively, use a specialist non-toxic graffiti cleaner 

If this method doesn’t work, you can pressure wash or sand blast the area but be careful you don’t damage the surface and erode any stonework. Start with a low pressure and a wide tip to distribute the pressure, keeping it moving as you clean. 

How to remove graffiti from paintwork? 

To remove graffiti from paintwork such as a car, you can use acetone or nail varnish remover. However, make sure you do a test patch first as this can damage paintwork. Use sparingly. Wash the area with plenty of warm soapy water to rinse immediately. Again, wear gloves to protect your hands. 

How to remove graffiti from metal? 

There are several common products which can be effective at removing graffiti from metal surfaces. This includes using WD40, paint thinner, acetone or oil. Once you’ve rubbed it over the graffiti, you’ll need to use a degreasing solvent to remove the oily residue.  

If the surface isn’t delicate, you can also try to scrub it off with sandpaper or either steel or bronze wool. The next step is to try pressure washing the surface. If all else fails, you will have to paint over the graffiti.  

How to remove graffiti from windows and glass? 

The easiest way to remove graffiti from glass can be to simply scrape it off. Use a scraper or a product with a flat edge, holding it at an angle from the surface. If any remains, gently use ultra-fine bronze wool with water.  However, care must be taken to ensure you don’t scratch the glass during the process. Another method is to rub the graffiti with white spirit or paint thinner followed by a degreaser.  

How to remove graffiti from plastic? 

The most effective common method to remove graffiti from plastic is using WD-40. Paint thinner and white spirit are not suitable as they can soften and permanently damage plastic. You can also rub the graffiti with fine bronze wool.   

Getting help to remove graffiti 

If you’re looking to remove graffiti from your property, it’s best to act fast. Removal is more effective the fresher the paint is. And you’re likely to need a different technique depending on the material you’re looking to treat. If you’re not careful, some methods could cause more damage rather than fix the problem.  

Should you want someone to come and take care of the problem for you, the expert cleaning team at phs Interclean is ready and waiting. Our high-quality technicians are trained and experienced to meet all your cleaning needs from floor cleaning and office cleans to pigeon proofing and graffiti removal. We have specialist equipment suitable for all structures and surfaces and are trained to work at height so we can enhance the look of your property from top to bottom.  Get in touch today.  

Get in touch today!