Can Sugar Soap Remove Paint? What is Sugar Soap?


One of the most crucial parts of starting any new painting project is preparation. However, we know it is also one of the most overlooked parts of the process. Unfortunately without the correct preparation, you risk a trade-off with the finish and appearance of the end result.

While we know rubbing down walls and cleaning the surface ready for painting can be a mundane and boring task, it is essential to take preparation seriously when you want to achieve the best finish possible.

Areas within the home are susceptible to dust and dirt gathering on surfaces especially with rooms where there is heavy foot traffic such as the living room, kitchen and bathroom. The kitchen is heavily susceptible to a build-up of grease on surfaces and walls.

What is Sugar Soap?

can sugar soap remove paint
Sugar Soap Liquid Form
Sugar Soap Powder Form

While the name may seem to give you a hint as to what sugar soap is, the truth is that calling sugar soap, a soap made from sugar is actually incorrect and misleading. Sugar soap is actually an alkaline, mild chemical compound detergent that when in powdered form resembles granulated sugar.

It is particularly useful as a surface and preparation cleaner for all types of surfaces. It is the perfect detergent to remove grease, tarry deposits and grime from walls and when adequately washed away leaves no traces of the product on the surface to react with the paint. In fact, sugar soap is also great for bringing new life into already painted walls and will brighten and clean surfaces, just make sure that you remove all traces thoroughly.

So, Does Sugar Soap Remove Paint?

Sugar soap comes into its own as a cleaner that can help remove dirt and grime where it is extremely effective in doing so. As a paint remover, it is not effective at all unless you intend to wash off poorly applied emulsion paint where it can remove some paint residue.

With that said, it is not an effective product for the removal of paint. It is more useful as a cleaner to prepare surfaces and walls for the application of paint.

If you are looking at it as the perfect paint remover then you will have better luck purchasing a specialised compound that is designed for the removal of paint such as a paint stripper. For cleaning and grime/grease removal, it is is one of the best solutions where everyday household cleaning products may fail to remove dirt.

Sugar soap is an effective multipurpose grime and oil cleaner. Also, it can be used to clean and remove nicotine stains from surfaces or objects.

What Type of Sugar Soap is Better?

Available in liquid form and powder form. Liquid form while being more expensive is pre-prepared and this means that it’s much easier to apply and work with more effectively. If you plan to use a large amount of sugar soap for instance, to ready a whole room then it would be more cost-effective to buy in powder form and mix your own by following the instructions provided.

Each option is suitable and it’s just based on personal preference which you choose. Both are equally effective in cleaning and preparing surfaces/materials for the application of paint.

How To Use Sugar Soap

To use, dilute the liquid or powder using the instructions provided – usually in warm water – and apply to the walls or surfaces you wish to clean. Remove the excess with warm water and a clean sponge and allow enough time for the surface to thoroughly dry out before rubbing and apply a coat of paint.

With handling any chemical substance, make sure you wear gloves before applying sugar soap as it can sting if it gets under your nails. Avoid any contact with your eyes and follow the instructions on the back of the tub if it has a negative impact on you.

Here are the steps for using sugar soap effectively.

  1. If you’re buying a pre-mixed spray bottle, spray onto the surface for cleaning.
  2. If you’re using sugar soap powder mix according to the instructions.
  3. Spray onto the surface.
  4. Wipe clean with a cloth, It doesn’t need to be a microfibre cloth.
  5. Rinse off with warm water and a clean cloth.
  6. Let it fully dry before applying paint.

How Long After Sugar Soap Can You Paint?

After preparing a wall by cleaning it with sugar soap you need to wait until the wall is completely dry. You will find that the wall is completely dry after 3-5 hours and you will be able to paint directly onto it. Just ensure that the wall is completely dry and no residue is left on the surface/wall. Heating the room will decrease the drying time to speed up the process and make it ready for painting in a shorter time.

Do You Have To Rinse Off Sugar Soap?

Yes, before applying paint you need to make sure all residue is removed, rinse the surface or wall with warm water and a clean sponge. Leaving residue on the surface before painting will not allow the paint to correctly set on the wall, furthermore, you risk having small bumps on the wall where the residue has clumped together. Always rinse off sugar soap before painting.

Failure to correctly rinse and remove the residue will cause you to start the painting process again which is not only a headache but a lot of extra work and time.

Sugar Soap Vs Household Detergent

The benefit of using sugar soap over a household detergent for preparing walls before painting is that sugar soap residue can easily be wiped clean off with warm water.

When you use household detergents to clean a surface in preparation for painting there will be some residue left on the wall or surface that will be hard to remove.

While it’s not visible to the eyes any residue left on a surface will cause problems when applying paint as it won’t effectively stick to the surface and may cause bumps and imperfections.

Sources: Wikipedia

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