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topic 36445

Removing chrome plating from plastic (ABS) parts

A discussion started in 2000 but continuing through 2020


Q. I have a very infrequent need to remove chrome plating from ABS plastic moldings. Is there a simple way to do this without harming the base plastic component itself? If so can this be outlined? Thanks

Derrick K. Barr
- Yankton, South Dakota


Q. What would be the best and easiest way to remove chrome on a plastic automotive grill so that it can be painted?

Brendan Ajolo
hobbyist - Aiea, HI, USA


Q. I also want to know how to remove chrome from a plastic grill?

Arthur D. Daub
- Gardnerville, Nevada

March 13, 2012

A. Use brake fluid to remove chrome on plastic.

Mark Andrews
- Englewood, Colorado

March 14, 2012

thumbsdown Hi, Mark.

Thank you, but I would be beyond shocked if that worked. Chrome plated pistons are used on earth moving equipment where they stay immersed night and day in very similar hydraulic fluids whenever they're not scraping past seals doused in the stuff.

Chrome can be quickly removed with hydrochloric acid (although you must watch the safety protocols), and you may be able to soda blast the underlying nickel plating to give a little tooth for a primer. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


Q. We are a plastic recycler trying to remove chrome plating from ABS parts. It appears that a copper layer has been applied to "hold" the chrome layer on.

If this is correct, how is the copper layer first applied to the plastic.

Does anyone have a method by which to remove the plating safely.


Andy Hoehn
plastic reclaiming - Mt Vernon, Indiana, USA


A. Try Ferric Chloride solution 20-30 Bé preferred, or nitric acid 50% by vol.which will not be as safe and will fume.

Geoffrey Whitelaw
Geoffrey Whitelaw
- Port Melbourne, Australia


A. Most companies find it more expensive to strip ABS than it is to scrap it. Disposal cost of spent chemicals make a difference now and ABS is fairly cheap.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico

A. Hi Andy. The most common plating sequence is probably electroless nickel plating, copper plating, semi-bright nickel plating, bright nickel plating, chrome plating -- but there are variations.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


Q. I am trying to dissolve a layer of Chrome that completely coats a plastic automobile piece. Should I use hydrochloric acid? If so, what strength? What type of finish will this leave on the plastic underneath? Smooth or rough?

Thanks for the help!

Todd Staples
- United States


A. Firstly, are you sure the part is chromium (plus underplates) plated on plastic or is the part vacuum metallized? This makes a huge difference.

It is also important to know the type of plastic before using any chemical method of removing any finish (metallic or organic).

Gene Packman
process supplier - Great Neck, New York


A. Most exterior trim, grilles and other similar autoparts are not simply chrome plated but have heavy nickel and copper underplates. If you are dealing with autolamps, they will surely have a very thin aluminized layer, not chrome plating. In any case the waste produced by stripping it will be considered toxic and has to be disposed of accordingly.

Guillermo Marrufo
Monterrey, NL, Mexico


A. If you are trying to strip in order to have paint bind to the surface, all you have to do is glass bead blast the item. Best to use glass bead instead of sand blasting... Less etching or chance to warp the part. I would definitely primer the item before paint.
I would try to stay away from a chemical strip on plastic. Also, contact a chrome shop that does plastic bumper repair/coating and chrome, they could give you good advice.

alicia_moreno la kromadora
Alicia Moreno, La Kromadora
Escondido, San Diego No., California

To minimize search efforts and to offer multiple viewpoints, we combined previously separate threads onto this page. Please forgive any resultant repetition, failures of chronological order, or what may look like readers disrespecting previous responses -- those other responses may not have been on the page at the time :-)

February 3, 2013

Ed. note:
abstract questions

Q. Hi,

How do I remove chrome coating on ABS part?

Sibel Dogan
- Bursa, Turkey

March 8, 2013

A. Hi Sibel.

Unfortunately, it isn't easy to answer brief abstract questions; the best removal method may depend on what you want to do next (scrap it, paint it, re-plate it), whether it's a single part or truckloads, and exactly what metal you want included in 'remove chrome coating'. You probably want to remove not just the chrome plating, but the nickel plating under it, the copper plating under that, and the electroless nickel at the bottom ... but sometimes people just want to remove the chrome layer, and add more nickel plating then chrome plating, or rough up the nickel and then powder coat More detail please. Thanks!


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha


Are chrome plated parts hazardous waste?

June 17, 2014

Q. Looking back to the first question, I have another question for the recyclers: are chromed parts considered as hazardous waste? or does it depend on the type of chrome (e.g. Chromium +6)?

Rob Morais
- Ipanema, Brazil

June 2014

A. Hi Rob. Chrome plated parts have a layer of chromium METAL on them (valence state 0) regardless of whether the original plating solution was trivalent or hexavalent. I don't know enough to be able to comment on individual regulations around the world, which will probably get stricter, but chrome plating is non-hazardous, many people have eaten off of it. Here's a decades old copper-nickel-chrome plated steel tablespoon ...

copper-nickel-chrome plated spoon

... and many knives, serving spoons, trays, etc., have been and are used for food. Good luck.


Ted Mooney, Teds signature
Ted Mooney, P.E. - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Striving to live Aloha

August 8, 2016 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I hope whoever reads this understands my writing. I have plastic (mostly PP and ABS), that is coated with chromium. How can I remove the chrome so I can get raw PP and ABS to be recycled? Thanks a lot for the answer.

surya hendra
- jakarta, indonesia

August 2016

A. Hi Surya. Geoff and Guillermo have already answered on the thread which we added your question to. Unfortunately, the cost of the stripping chemicals plus their disposal will probably exceed the value of the plastic plus its disposal cost. Second opinions are alwayswelcome, but I have not heard to the contrary yet.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading

September 8, 2016

Q. Hi,
If the costs of stripping/disposal significantly outweigh the efforts to recycle the raw plastics, have you observed any other practices in which chrome plated plastics are effectively recycled?
Would there be any chance of creating a closed loop recycling system? or would we need a new economical technology to be invented?

Rhys Connick
- St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

February 9, 2017

Q. Hello! I want to remove chrome on a car grill completely to have it painted instead. Best way to do it?

Bertil Johansson
- Trollhattan Sweden

February 2017

A. Hi Bertil. If available, a new unplated grille will probably be a cheaper and better start. You probably can't blast a plastic grill, so you'll be limited to chemical means. I think you should send it to a shop for removal of the chrome, nickel, and copper layers because it involves expertise, not just toxic chemicals. Good luck.


pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading
P.S.: When we combined a number of similar threads here, I saw that my guess gets trumped by the actual experience of "La Kromadora" Alicia Moreno.

September 14, 2020 -- this entry appended to this thread by editor in lieu of spawning a duplicative thread

Q. I have the grille off my 2019 F350. I need to know how to remove the chrome from the grille. I have tried bleach, and while it works, it is a super slow process and requires the bath to be changed often. These are fairly long parts so that's a lot of bleach.

I have called every chrome shop within driving distance and every single one has said good luck, or laughed at me. I'm unfortunately already too far into this to just sand and paint the parts. What can I use that I can acquire to strip this? I can tell you from looking at what I've stripped that these parts are not vacuum metallized they are definitely some kind of plating. There's copper as the base layer. I tried a small scale setup with a battery charger and salt water, this removed most of the chrome but the problem is once most of it's gone the part no longer conducts electricity so it won't remove the rest of the copper. Please help I just want to finish stripping these so I can paint them.


John Forman
- Louisville kentucky

September 2020

A. Hi. "La Kromadora" says glass bead blast it, then paint it, and she would know.

Luck & Regards,

pic of Ted Mooney
Ted Mooney, P.E. RET - Pine Beach, New Jersey
Aloha -- an idea worth spreading


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