Best Tips for Getting Rid of Pesky Restroom Graffiti

Best Tips for Getting Rid of Pesky Restroom Graffiti

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We compiled the most effective graffiti removal solutions we’ve heard of to help you in the frustrating, never-ending battle to keep your restrooms clean and mark-free.

For pencil marks:

  • Carry a large pink eraser in the truck, and just rub it off. (But if the eraser is dirty, it will wipe that grime on the plastic or leave a residue.)
  • Some PROs have had good luck removing pencil marks with the Sunrise Environmental products.
  • Tagaway Graffiti Remover wipes them clean, along with a bunch of other things. Unfortunately, it doesn’t remove the markers that embed themselves in the plastic.
  • Try the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. This also works great for strap marks and hard water stains.

For markers and other graffiti:

  • Try Goof Off spray. It works great, even on the tough graffiti inks. Just spray, wipe off and give a good rinse.
  • TOICO Industries sells sponges that work great for pencil and will also remove Sharpie shadow if done promptly.
  • Oven cleaner can remove marker-type graffiti and other “messages.”

Using grit:
Portable restroom walls are not completely smooth — most are deliberately rough to hide scratch marks. So, it can become difficult to remove the graffiti from those tiny crevices, leaving faded marks on your restrooms.

Grit particles are small enough to get into those tiny indentations found in the walls. The particles can tear up the graffiti, making the removal much more effective. This also has the small downside of scratching your units; however, this is easily fixed using a heat gun/torch.

What you’ll need is grit or sand, or a pinch of some dirt will do. Media blasting sand, or pumice powder work really well, too. Add the grit to your favorite nonaerosol-based graffiti remover, mix the solution 20/80 graffiti remover, and apply with a brush to the affected area of the portable restroom. Use a hard scrub brush or brush-based power tool and give it a good scrub. The grit and solution will get down into the crevices and get what normally cannot be removed. When finished, simply pressure wash the mess off and reapply as necessary. 

This method works best in the storage yard since it can get messy. It’s also very cost-effective and removes graffiti on the surface of the plastic. Note: This does not work on paint solutions that physically tint the plastic.


If someone is determined, he or she will find a way to do some damage, but there are a few ways you can curtail graffiti by planning ahead.

Location, location, location
Scan a new customer’s property for the best drop site.

  • Look for the busiest spot on a construction site.
  • Find a fenced area where it’s more difficult for vandals to tag and run.
  • Visit the site at night to take note of locations illuminated by streetlights.
  • Ensure good lines of sight to the units.
  • Consider locations and restroom colors that will help units blend into their surroundings, rather than stick out and beckon vandals.

Keep it clean
Law enforcement experts say the best deterrent to graffiti is removing it quickly. Taggers want to see their images or gang-related symbols displayed as long as possible, and they will avoid targets where paint is quickly removed. Monitor your placements regularly and be prepared to clean a vandalized unit immediately. Ask your customers to alert you to graffiti as soon as they notice it.

Have attendants on site
To protect your inventory investment at special events, it sometimes pays to hire attendants to monitor restroom usage. This can be an especially wise investment when you have large banks of restrooms at a traditionally rowdy event or when your restroom trailers are dispatched to a more youth-oriented event.

Warn taggers
Add warning labels to all of your restrooms that tell vandals they will be caught and prosecuted to the full extent of the law. Order stickers that are brightly colored, sternly worded and carry some sort of official-looking badge or law enforcement seal. This may not deter the majority of taggers, but it might convince the more apprehensive vandals to move along. While warning labels might have limited effectiveness, they are an inexpensive deterrent.

Install motion-sensor lights
Inexpensive motion-sensor lights are making it cheaper and easier for you to cast a light on vandals at work. These battery-operated, weatherproof LED lights are durable, long lasting, and can be found for $20 or less. Install one on a fence or a building, pointing at your units. The light will discourage taggers the moment they shake the spray paint can.

Add surveillance
Surveillance technology is getting more reliable, easier to use and less expensive. For an investment of less than one new portable restroom, you can install a security trail camera pointed at a unit or two that are chronically being hit by taggers or vandalized in other ways.

Intelligent placement
For locations prone to vandalism, deliver older units near the end of their life cycle or dark-colored units where residual graffiti marks won’t show as readily. Your customers might have more tolerance for a worn unit or one that won’t come completely clean of graffiti if it means they will be responsible for fewer repairs or it limits their cost for damage waivers.

What’s your best tip for graffiti removal and prevention? Let us know in the comments.


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