Thursday, 1 October 2009

Review: Simple Green

Just a quick post today to cast my critical eye over Simple Green. This product is cited again and again by gamers as the most hassle free way of stripping old models of their paint.


Commonly found in most stores in the US (so I'm told), Simple Green is a non-toxic household cleaner, used for cleaning things such as baths and kitchen surfaces. It came to my attention around the time I decided I wanted to strip all my old Praetorian figures and re-paint them. On all the major 40k forums I could find at least person extolling its virtues and so, not wanting to risk my rare Praetorians with anything less than the best, I tried to find some.

Living in the UK this was easier said than done...

It would appear that Simple Green is simply not sold in UK stores, so I ended up ordering a 1L bottle direct from their website for the costly sum of £10. Be sure to get the household stuff not the industrial strength, or you may well melt your models...and your hands.


Using Simple Green really couldn't be easier, first find a container like a cup or bowl, pop in your miniatures and then pour in enough Simple Green to cover all the models. There is no mixing or watering down required, just pour the Green straight in.

Now this does mean that you can use up that 1L bottle fairly quickly. It just about managed to cover up the 56 Praetorians I had to strip, but if your looking at doing whole armies and you live in the UK, it could get a bit costly. But more on that later.

1 Platoon, 5th Praetorian Regiment of Foot...having a their group bath...

After this you simply have to let the Simple Green to work its magic. Leave your submerged models to sit for at least 24hrs. Don't worry about leaving them for longer, some of mine sat submerged for over a week and there was no damage to the metal models. I can't guarantee that plastic would be similarly unaffected, but to be honest I don't think this stuff has the power to really corrode plastic.

On point worth mentioning is the smell. Though not entirely unpleasant, it is very strong and you are going to want to store your models somewhere out of the way, like the garden shed or garage.

After leaving the models to sit for at least 24hrs, run a sink full of hot soapy water and grab and old toothbrush.

You can see the paint already peeling off the model before the scrubbing even starts

Take your model and dunk it into the soapy water and getting scrubbing with that toothbrush. It should be the work of a few seconds to get off the majority of the paint, a little longer to get into the crevasses.

And there you have it, done and ready to be repainted!

It took me less than 5 minutes to do the 4 miniatures below, and I had all 56 of them scrubbed down within the hour.

So to summarise...

Easy to use
Does the job!

Cost & Availability in the UK
The Smell!
Can irritate some people's skin (so I'm told)

Since using Simple Green I have discovered that standard household Dettol can achieve the same effect in the same way, so I would recommend UK readers to go with that, for cost reasons. However, if you live in the USofA you might as well go green!

So a great product for stripping miniatures, with only the UK cost being prohibitive for me. Using Oni's great rating system I award Simple Green:
4 Golden Aqulias out of 5

Thanks for reading, I'll leave you with one more before and after shot:


Siph_Horridus said...

In the UK, simply use Fairy Power Spray, cheap. Smells nice too - might get 5 out of 5.

Mik said...

Very handy review, and a great writeup to boot!

This is super glue safe and won't break the bond?

Farmpunk said...

for a minute there, I thought you'd snuck into my house and took photos of me stripping my praetorians.

I used Simple Green, and being in the US, I highly recommend it for ease of use. It does smell like Root Beer though.

@Mik: it probably will break the Superglue bond. I had some Steel Legion Sgts. in the mix, and their arms did come off. But I don't know of any paint remover that doesn't also break super glue... unless you wanted to go with JB Weld for you adhesion purposes. Then you'd never get the pieces apart.

RuntMcRory said...

Siph_Horridus beat me to it but Fairy Powerspray works wonders. I have used it to strip both plastic and metal with no ill effects. I have left minis in it for weeks and in one case 2 months with no issues and best of all, its readily available in the UK.

Cannonfodder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cannonfodder said...

So you found an alternative in the UK. I live in Austria and can't get the one nor the other here *sigh*. Can you recomend anything else for me?

btw: Shipping costs form their website are another 5,6 pounds !!!

oni said...

Excellent write up. Thanks for the mention too. :)

@Cannonfodder - I hear break fluid works. You guys have cars down there right? I'm joking with you of course. ;)

Ace said...

I use Simple Green to strip all of my eBay finds, and in order to avoid the smell, I use an old mayonnaise jar with a lid.

Usually on a Saturday I will drop in the next victims, and fill the jar until it covers them, and then screw the lid on and fish them out the next Saturday. It's not like I don't have a ton of other models to mess with in the meantime.

Shelexie said...

Great write up. Thanks for the review and the pics to go with it!

sovietspace said...

Thats for all the comments guys, and especially to Spih and McRoroy - its good to see that there are ready alternatives in the UK.

@Cannonfodder - Indeed I've heard that break fluid can work, though I'd test it on metal models before committing to any plastic. If not, both Fairy and Dettol fairy normal household cleaners. It might be worth buying some Austrian equivalent and doing some experiments! Report back if you find something that works!

sovietspace said...

Oh, and Oni - no problem mate, thanks for sharing your scoring system :)

Longscope said...

I've got a couple of plastic space marines sitting in simple green as an experiment. So far they've been in there for 3 months, with no damage what-so-ever.

Dverning said...

Just to weigh in on a couple things...
1. Simple Green won't corrode the plastic, but it will weaken it. So thin pieces like the wings of a Vyper will be more prone to bending or possible breakage.
2. You can speed up the stripping process by heating the SG slightly. Just set it in some direct sunlight or on a burner on low. (Or just on the front porch if you live in a hot desert like I do.) Just beware over heating as you can melt your plastic.
3. Yes, SG does degrade super glue bonds. The glue tends to contract while in solution, darkens with the removed paint, and will chip or flake off. It's much more brittle post SG and I recommend cleaning it off and re-gluing.
4. Brake fluid works, but stinks, is messy and can be a hassle to dispose of properly. It also takes a longer soak to get your results. I found 10w40 gave the best results.
5. SG does work on enamel paints too, but might require multiple soaks. The nice thing is that the fluid tends to be re-usable for 3-5 soaks.


Apoca6 said...

I have always used dettol as SG is too expensive to get here in the uk and have always been more than happy with . on quite a few forums you will find apoc harping on about it ;o)

But looking at these comments, i will give the fairy power spray a go this weekend.

oh and always wear gloves with dettol! i was doing my 1st 5 or 6 batches ever over a few days and didn't think about it all. My hands looked like a zombies all flakey and cracked and red within a day and lasted that way for a couple of weeks! lol.
latex gloves every time now!

Vorlon said...

Ive used Simple Green on my test squad (washed them 10 times now with no ill effects) and it has worked very well.

However I have found something that is much more effective. It is a degreasing product called "Purple Power". It works much more quickly than simple green and smells far less offensive. It is rather tough on skin so wear latex gloves.

Usually I will let the place my models in "the bath" for around 12 hours, then instead of scrubbing with a toothbrush (and upsetting my fiance with random spatter marks ^_^) i will take a very deep bowl and set it under a faucet and run warm water and play with the angle and pressure until I achieve a nice low speed whirlpool. 30 or so minutes later the models will basically have stripped themselves.

Hope this helps ^_^

Anonymous said...

Have any of you tried to dillute, considering Simple green actually works BEST at minimum 1:1 ratio?

just a thought. (i actually use at 1 parts SG to 10 parts water to strip fences using said dilution. works a treat and at this dilution not only is it price effective it is also less smelly.

also Heat / hot water definately speeds it up, i dont need gloves at lower concentrations (minimal need even at high concentrations)

Anonymous said...

I've had models in simple green for over 2 years and the worst that has happened has been that it makes the plastic very pale, almost white. It dissolves crazy glue and teh metal models feel "rough". Not pitted, just not as smooth as it once was, which actually made the paint adhere better. I pulled all of the models out when we moved but there was no damage to them at all.

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