How to Give Your Aluminum Ladder a Fresh Start: Removing Paint the Right Way

Most ladders are made from aluminium. The metal is not only abundantly available on the earth but it’s also durable, lightweight and resistant to corrosion.

In fact, it’s the perfect material for making this tool because people transport ladders from one home to the other. 

The only downside of this metal is that it gets aluminium oxide due to oxidization. This process gives your ladder that dull grey appearance. However, you can get back a shiny look when you clean it.

Another problem is that your ladder might get stained with paint when applying a fresh coat to your walls, or ceiling. Although a ladder is a tool and is certain to get dirty, paint stains are not attractive.

How to Remove Paint from Aluminum Ladder

So then, here is how to remove paint from aluminium ladder.

How to Remove Paint from Aluminum Ladder

How Do You Clean Aluminum Ladders?

As mentioned above, aluminium is prone to oxidation which robs an item made from this metal its natural shine.

Also, a ladder is a tool that is stepped on when painting, cleaning the roof, or when performing other tasks on higher surfaces. Therefore, it’s normal for an aluminium ladder to get dirty during the exercise.

The following are two ways of cleaning your ladder.


A clean cloth and a bucket of warm soapy water is all that you need to remove dirt on the surface of your ladder.

You can begin by sweeping the crannies and nooks using a stiff brush to remove an exceedingly high amount of dirt.

Then clean the surface of your ladder using the cloth or rag soaked in water, rinse it with clean water and allow it to dry before storing it.

Clean with Special Aluminum Cleaner:

Oxidization causes an aluminium surface to appear dull. However, cleaning the surface with acid will remove the oxidization as well as stubborn stains such as dry paint.

Soak a clean cloth in a special aluminium cleaner or vinegar, rub it on the surface and wait for 5-10 minutes. Lastly, wipe the surface of your ladder using another clean cloth to remove the cleaning solution residue and the oxidization substance.

In the end, you will have a sparkling clean shiny ladder ready for storage or the next task at hand.

Does Vinegar Remove Paint from Aluminum?

Almost all kitchens have a bottle of vinegar because it has several household uses apart from making flavorful salad dressing. People use vinegar to remove dry paint stuck on the windows and other surfaces.

Being a natural solvent, vinegar can effectively remove dried paint from metals such as aluminium, stainless steel, galvanized steel, copper, etc. Also, vinegar has acetic acid that helps to loosen paint stuck on the aluminium ladder.

The mild acid first breaks the bond holding the paint molecules together and the one holding the paint and the metal. You can get started by heating the vinegar to concentrate its acetic acid. Next, use a paintbrush or a rag to dab the hot liquid onto the dry paint stain and wait for 15 minutes.

Lastly use a paint scraper to remove the loose paint from the ladder. You should scrape the surface lightly to avoid scratching the underlying surface. Wipe the ladder thoroughly to remove the vinegar from the surface because it can corrode the metal.

Unlike expensive paint strippers, vinegar is inexpensive, effective and doesn’t contain dangerous chemicals that emit toxic fumes. So, this makes it a safe alternative for removing paint from your aluminium ladder.

What is the Easiest Way to Remove Paint from Metal?

People are concerned about how to remove paint from aluminium or any other metal because stained knobs, hinges, ladders, etc, are not attractive.

Further, some methods are potentially dangerous and can damage the underlying metal thus causing more problems than the old paint covering the surface.  

Paint Scrapper is one of the easiest ways to remove paint from a metal object. The handheld tool can help you remove paint without a lot of effort especially when working on a softer metal like brass.

A scrapper with a plastic blade is preferable because it doesn’t scratch or damage the metal surface. Also, a scrapper with a narrower blade is ideal for smaller areas or those that are harder to reach. The one with a wide blade is suitable for flatter, wider surfaces.

How Do You Remove Paint from Aluminum?

One can accidentally smear paint on an aluminium surface such as a ladder or window frames when painting. However, you can restore its original beauty and prevent erosion by removing the dry paint using any of the following methods.

Paint Stripper:

There are different forms of paint strippers. One of them is made from soybeans and has a low odor. You need tools such as a chip brush and a clean container when applying a paint stripper.

The procedure of its application includes pouring the stripper into a container and smearing the metal surface with it in thick layers using a chip brush. Allow the stripper to settle on the metal for 30 minutes or overnight.

Wipe the surface using a scraper or rag to remove the liquid and unwanted paint. This method shouldn’t be used near any potentially flammable items. It should also be done in a well-ventilated area.

Vinegar/Baking Soda:

A solution of white vinegar and water or baking soda and water is a natural way of removing paint from an aluminium metal surface. Add a quarter cup of vinegar or baking soda to a quart of water and heat the liquid until it boils.

Apply it on the metal surface and leave it for 15 minutes. The paint will loosen and fall off. However, you can scrape it off and if it doesn’t easily come out use a hard-bristle brush or putty knife.

You may apply wax or aluminium sealant after removing the paint to prevent oxidization or any other potential damages from the elements.  

Further, only use a metal putty knife, steel wool or sandpaper to remove paint on an aluminium object if you intend to paint it. Failure to repaint it will cause unsightly scratches or rust. 

Related: How to Paint an Old Wooden Ladder


The article has reviewed how to remove paint from aluminium ladder or any other metallic surface. Most ladders are made of aluminium because of their lightweight and durability.

Dry paint on the other hand can cause unsightly spots on your ladder or another object. The good news is that you can easily remove it using vinegar or baking soda solution, a paint scraper or a paint stripper.

You may consider painting your aluminium ladder after removing the unwanted paint to protect it from oxidization or hide some scratches.