How to Remove Paint From Vandalized Trees


If the local spooks or school spirits got a little out of hand last homecoming or Halloween, the tree in your front yard may have more to show for it than just a little toilet paper. They may also have a bit of spray paint. Paint on the bark will not harm the tree and will wear away over time. But until then, it will leave a long-term eyesore. Solvents can harm the tree more than the paint actually can. But you can remove paint from vandalized trees if you do so carefully.

Step 1

Swab mineral spirits onto the spray paint with a clean sponge. Allow the mineral spirits to sit for five to 10 minutes.

Step 2

Wipe the paint with a clean cloth. The mineral spirits should help dissolve the paint so it can be blotted away.

Step 3

Apply a water-based, biodegradable solvent to the tree. Spray the solvent onto the affected area. Wait three minutes for the solvent to dissolve the paint. Wipe the solvent away with a clean sponge.

Step 4

Brush at the bark with a scraper or a copper-wire brush to loosen and remove the layer of paint and surface bark without removing the bark completely.

Things You'll Need

  • Mineral spirits
  • Sponge
  • Clean cloth
  • Water-based, biodegradable solvent
  • Scraper
  • Copper-wired brush


  • City of Salem: How To Remove Graffiti
  • US Forest Service: Graffiti Removers
  • Popular Mechanics: Halloween Vandalism: How to Prevent it---and How to Clean it Up

Who Can Help

  • Lift-Off-Inc.: Instructions: #4 Graffiti Remover
Keywords: cleaning tagged trees, cleaning graffiti, repairing vandalized trees

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."