Removing Nalgene bottle graphics
December 11, 2005 10:53 PM   Subscribe

I've received a lot of 32 oz. Nalgene brand bottles, 10 to be exact. I want to use them and decorate them as gifts. Before decorating, I want to remove the graphics from the bottles, how can I do it without scuffing the bottles too much and without compromising the bottles structure?

The bottles are made of a Polycarbonate/Lexan. I'm unsure about what type of ink is used for the graphics on the bottles. The graphics on the bottle cover about 6-6.5 square inches. I've used sandpaper, a fairly large grit, that scuffed it up too much. I've tried a few solvents, paint thinner and isopropyl rubbing alcohol and those didn't work at all. Any ideas would be great! Thanks!
posted by ibechase to Food & Drink (7 answers total)
From here:

Graffiti/Paint Removal
The following products can be used for removing graffiti or paint from the LEXAN™ panel:

• Butyl cellosolve
• Masking tape, adhesive tape or lint removal tools work well for lifting off old weathered paints
• To remove labels, stickers, etc., the use of kerosene, VM&P naphtha or petroleum spirits is generally effective. When the solvent will not penetrate the sticker material, apply heat (hair dryer) to soften the adhesive and promote removal.
posted by kcm at 11:08 PM on December 11, 2005

I've used nailpolish remover (w/acetone) to remove logos from pens. However, I know that it will ruin the finish on some plastics so be sure to test it first.
posted by idiotfactory at 12:15 AM on December 12, 2005

It's not paint, actually. It's ink that's been screen printed on. I have no clue how to remove it without damaging the plastic, because afaik, the 'ink' is itself a type of plastic.
posted by SpecialK at 12:27 AM on December 12, 2005

Try SoftScrub from your local supermarket. I use it to remove silk screen ink from ABS
posted by Raybun at 5:02 AM on December 12, 2005

You could try a few runs through the dishwasher as a low-tech solution. That might take too, long, but a test-run might determine otherwise.
posted by MrZero at 7:55 AM on December 12, 2005

Nalgene bottles are made out of polycarbonate plastic (aka Lexan). If you use acetone (nail polish remover) on them, it will cloud the polycarbonate. I'd check out KCM's link, but I'm skeptical that you'll end up with something that looks as clean as a Nalgene bottle does new.

Running them through the dishwasher won't take off the lettering, unless these are really low-quality knockoffs. High-temperture washing also has the disadvantage of weaking the monomer bonds in the bisphenol-a that's used to create the polycarbonate. When the bonds weaken, leaching of BPA into the beverages increases. Since BPA is an estrogen mimic, that's not something you want, especially if you are giving these bottles to women of child-bearing age.
posted by alms at 8:17 AM on December 12, 2005

Mr Clean Magic Erasers work well for some really odd things. They're just a really fine, hard foam and are available at the grocery store for a couple of bucks.
posted by hydropsyche at 11:39 AM on December 12, 2005

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