Sometimes I complain about our ‘hood, but the fact is that graffiti could be anywhere. It can be done by anyone from gangsters to rich kids. I think the difference between “good” and “bad” neighborhoods really comes down to how much people care. Do people care about their yards looking nice, or whether there are stray dogs and cats running around? Do they care about stuff that’s spray painted?

For months, I’ve “cared” about the mailbox on the corner and how crappy of a feeling I get when I turn onto our street. But passively cared, as in one time I think I googled graffiti removal services in my neighborhood and gave up after about 3 seconds. But this past weekend, by golly, I decided to actively care!

Of course now that I’ve already removed it, I find this link that looks super easy to use (if you live in my neighborhood, please use this!). I swear that was hiding from my previous google searches.

Anyhoo, I didn’t feel like waiting for anyone to come out anyway, so the link I found was this one from the Minneapolis Police Dept that had lots of good info on DIY graffiti removal. (Minneapolis- what a great city!)

There are a lot of options, so I headed down to the mailbox with a rag and an armful of supplies. These are the ones I trudged down with:

  • Orange degreaser (I think Zep brand)
  • Simple Green
  • Mineral spirits
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Paint thinner (which I’m pretty sure is just mineral spirits)
  • Goof-Off (says right on the label it can remove graffiti)

I’m just sad I didn’t get a picture, because I looked pretty ridiculous. Here’s a closer shot of the “artwork”:

Since the earth and I are friends, I started out with what I guessed was the least harsh of the chemicals: the orange degreaser and the Simple Green. Surprisingly, the orange degreaser took the paint marker (the yellow in the picture) right off. Simple Green would have done it too, but with much more scrubbing. Seriously, it wiped right off. Made me wonder why I waited so long!

But for the actual spray paint I had to pull out the big guns, and I finally determined that lacquer thinner is the only way to go. (Since that worked and I hadn’t opened the Goof-Off, I decided to save $4 and return it.) Surprisingly, it didn’t even remove the powder coating underneath. For some reason, some of the paint was more stubborn than others. The black stuff on the left wiped right off, but most of the stuff on the right had to be scrubbed with a Scotch Brite pad and lots of elbow grease, and copious amounts of lacquer thinner (wear gloves). There were a few parts that just would not come off, but in the end I decided that the result was satisfactory.

While I was at it, I even trimmed that bushy tree thing trying to grow. I debated digging up the grass and mulching it, but decided that the grass/weed mixture already looked 10x better than it had, so I saved my mulch.

While I’m glad to have found the SLC graffiti removal service, I think I’m going to make this particular mailbox my own special project. It’s been three days, and so far so good. They say the best thing to deter graffiti “artists” (sorry kid, but you’re not Banksy) is to remove it as soon as humanly possible, so that’s exactly what I intend to do. I will sit there like Walt Kowalski (minus the guns and racial slurs).

Oh and if you’re here to comment and tell me that I should have asked for permission before improving public property, you can go ahead and take your comments elsewhere. I had enough rude comments on my post about the dang fence, and if my act of public service offends you, you can find another blog to terrorize.

If you drive by ugly graffiti regularly and are hoping someone will come take care of it, I encourage you to channel Gandhi and “be the change you wish to see in the world”! Find a service in your area, or just head out there yourself! People will roll down their windows to thank you, and you will feel really superior/good about yourself.

Now, spill it: Does anyone else live in a ‘hood where this kind of thing is common? Or do bloggers usually only live in classier neighborhoods? Any more helpful/constructive tips on DIY graffiti removal?