Graffiti Control

Industrial Consumer

The best approach for controlling graffiti depends on the surface: Masonry, metal, plastic, wood, or glass. The type of graffiti also makes a big difference: Ink pens, spray paints and adhesive stickers all require different approaches. When feasible, blasting systems are preferred for bare masonry or metal surfaces, and painting over is preferred for painted surfaces.  See a summary of best strategies

Required

Suggested

SoyGold 2500 Custom Mix Graffiti Remover: Soy/Benzyl Alcohol

soygold 2500
0
Manufacturer(s)
SoyGold (AGP)
When to Use

Best all-purpose product tested for removing heavy spray paint, marker, and stickers from concrete, metal, and fiberglass. Must be custom mixed: 50% SoyGold 2500, 50% benzyl alcohol. 

Product/Service Type
Industrial

Farrow System Recycled Glass Blasters

Farrow blaster
5
Manufacturer(s)
Farrow Systems
When to Use

Excellent performance for aggressive removal of spray paint on unpainted surfaces, with minimum residue.

Product/Service Type
Industrial

Aero Series Dry Ice Blasters

Coldjet Aero 40
0
Manufacturer(s)
Cold Jet
When to Use

Excellent performance for gentle removal of spray paint on painted or unpainted surfaces, with minimum residue.

Product/Service Type
Industrial

United 627 Smart Solve Graffiti Wipes

United 627
0
Manufacturer(s)
United Laboratories Inc.
When to Use

Excellent for removing light spray paint from street signs, fiberglass, glass and bare metal. 

Product/Service Type
Industrial

United 608 Smart Solve Gelled Graffiti Remover

United 608
0
Manufacturer(s)
United Laboratories Inc.
When to Use

Excellent for removing light spray paint from street signs, fiberglass, glass and bare metal. 

Product/Service Type
Industrial

Taginator

0
Manufacturer(s)
Equipment Trade Service Co. Inc.
When to Use

Excellent for removing heavy spray paint from unpainted concrete blocks and other porous masonry surfaces, or light spray paint from fiberglass, glass and metal.

Product/Service Type
Consumer, Industrial

Motsenbockers Lift Off #4

motsenbockers lift off #4
0
Manufacturer(s)
Motsenbockers Lift Off
When to Use

Excellent performance removing heavy spray paint and marker from concrete, fiberglass, and metal. Also removes light spray paint from street signs.

Product/Service Type
Consumer, Industrial

Graffiti Remover #99 (Ready To Use)

0
Manufacturer(s)
Sustainable Earth by Staples
Vendor(s)
Staples
When to Use

Good for light spray paint graffiti on masonry, fiberglass, glass and metal. 

Product/Service Type
Consumer, Industrial

Custom Mix Graffiti Remover: Acetone/Benzyl Alcohol

soygold 2500
0
Manufacturer(s)
SoyGold (AGP)
When to Use

Good for removing heavy spray paint, marker, and stickers from concrete. Not tested on other surfaces. Must be custom mixed: 50% acetone, 50% benzyl alcohol. 

Product/Service Type
Industrial

CG310 Green Graffiti Remover

claire CG 310 graffiti remover
0
Manufacturer(s)
Claire Manufacturing
When to Use

Excellent for removing light spray paint from street signs, fiberglass, glass and bare metal. 

Product/Service Type
Industrial
General Approaches to Graffiti Control
  • Dry ice blaster graffiti removal machines

    When to Use

    Dry ice blasters offer a less aggressive paint removal option for unpainted metal and masonry, or for light graffiti on painted surfaces. They leave almost no residue.

    Manufacturer(s):
    City Approved Vendor(s):
    Other Vendor(s):
    Product/Service Type
    Industrial
  • Recycled glass blaster graffiti removal machines

    When to Use

    Recycled glass blaster machines worked well for removing graffiti from unpainted surfaces, especially metal or masonry.  The machines aggressively remove paint and may be unsuitable for painted surfaces.  Very little glass media is required, making waste disposal easier. Dry ice blasters are more appropriate when less aggressive removal is required, for example, on wood.

    Manufacturer(s):
    City Approved Vendor(s):
    Other Vendor(s):
    Product/Service Type
    Industrial
  • Painting over grafitti with low-VOC paint

    When to Use

    Painting over graffiti with a low VOC (volatile organic compound) paint is a good choice on any painted surface, as long as the color can be matched. It is often cheaper and safer than using chemical graffiti removers.

    Manufacturer(s):
    City Approved Vendor(s):
    Other Vendor(s):
    Product/Service Type
    Industrial
  • Grafitti protective films - non sacrificial

    When to Use

    Certain protective films were good options on street signs, where graffiti removers alone might damage the sign. These films cannot be removed once applied.

    Manufacturer(s):
    City Approved Vendor(s):
    Other Vendor(s):
    Product/Service Type
    Industrial
  • Graffiti protective films - sacrificial

    When to Use

    When defaced with graffiti, transparent sacrificial films can be peeled off and replaced. They are especially useful for glass on transit buses. They also offer some protection against scratching or engraving. 

    Manufacturer(s):
    City Approved Vendor(s):
    Other Vendor(s):
    Product/Service Type
    Industrial
  • Chemical graffiti remover products

    When to Use

    Chemical graffiti removers are appropriate for removing graffiti from some painted and unpainted surfaces.  Some products are also effective on adhesive stickers. There is no single graffiti remover that can accomplish all tasks and generally several graffiti removers are used, depending on the need. Products vary widely in their effectiveness on spray paint vs. paint markers. They are not appropriate for street signs or rough masonry. Blasting machines may be a better choice for unpainted surfaces, and for uniformly painted surfaces painting over with color-matched low-VOC paint is preferable.

    Manufacturer(s):
    City Approved Vendor(s):
    Other Vendor(s):
    Product/Service Type
    Industrial

Limited

General Approaches to Graffiti Control

Prohibited

Info on this product category: Graffiti Control

Why Go Green

Toxicity: Graffiti removers pose significant hazards to workers as well as potential environmental impacts. Chemical graffiti removers often contain methylene chloride, a Prop 65 carcinogen that is listed by EPA as a Hazardous Air Pollutant, and listed by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) as a Toxic Air Contaminant. CARB regulations forbid the use of this solvent in graffiti removers, but products are still available elsewhere.  Perhaps the most common ingredient is n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, a reproductive and developmental toxin that is also listed on California’s Proposition 65 and classified as a VOC.  Another common ingredient in graffiti resistant coatings is tert-butyl acetate, which metabolizes into tert-butyl alcohol, a carcinogen. Finally, nonyl phenol ethoxylates are sometimes used in graffiti removers as surfactants; these are endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Volatile Organic Compounds: Despite CARB regulations, some commercial graffiti remover products contain levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) exceeding the legal limits of 30% (50% for aerosols). VOCs contribute to the formation of smog. Some paints used for painting over graffiti may also contain high levels of VOCs. Some blasting equipment can produce significant residues, which cannot be legally washed down the drain due to the potential presence of hazardous paint chips or other materials. 

Ingredients Disclosure: Most commercial graffiti removers tested do not disclose all ingredients.  Although manufacturers are required to disclose all ingredients classified as toxic by the US EPA, the EPA list does not include all chemicals that pose hazards. Look for products with the US EPA Design for the Environment label, or use custom mixed products.

Criteria for Graffiti Control

For graffiti removal on unpainted surfaces, dry ice or recycled glass blasting systems are preferred. Chemical graffiti removal products or protective coatings should not contain methylene chloride, n-methyl-2-pyrrolidone, tert-butyl acetate, or nonyl phenol ethoxylates. VOCs must be 30% or less for non-aerosol graffiti removers and 50% for aerosol products, using the definition of VOCs listed in CARB’s Consumer Product Regulation. Graffiti coatings must have a VOC content of less than 100 grams per liter. Paints for overpainting graffiti should either be certified under Green Seal GS-11, Green Seal GS-43, or should have a recycled content of at least 50% and VOC content of 50g/l or lower. For all products, full ingredient disclosure is preferred, either directly or via certification by the US EPA's Design for the Environment Program.

Last updated

Last updated: 
February 2, 2015

Reports

Safer Alternative Graffiti Management Methods for California,  a 2014 report by the Institute for Research and Technical Assistance, is an alternatives analysis of various grafitti control methods and products.  The report was funded by US EPA Region IX, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, and the San Francisco Department of the Environment.