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how to get paint out of clothes

Oh no! Out of all the things to get on an article of your favorite clothing, paint has to be one of the worst. It’s honestly right up there with red wine.

One thing that makes painting so difficult is that there are so many different types of paint, each with their own cocktail with chemicals. For that reason, results can vary wildly. However, with that being said, all hope is not lost!

Depending on exactly what type of paint you got on your clothes, you should at the very least be able to lessen the stain if not completely get rid of it.

Okay, we don’t have any time to lose! What do you do?!

Things to Know Before Treating the Stain

Before we get into the actual process of treating the stain, there are a couple things you should know that will help you.

      1. You’ll want to treat the paint as quickly as humanly possible.

    how to get paint off clothes

    • The faster that you’re able to treat it, the more likely it is that you’ll be able to get the stain out! In fact, the best case is treating it while it’s still wet. Once it dries, it’s going to become infinitely more difficult to get out.
    • If you don’t have the right tools at the moment, then try and keep the stain wet until you’re able to get your hands on the right tools.
      • This may sound counterintuitive but it will help!
  1. Remove any excess paint before trying to do anything about it.
    • This may go without saying but we had to mention it just in case. Do the easy part first! Get a spoon or some sort of scoop and gently remove all the excess globs.
    • After that, using a cloth or paper towel, gently blot away more of the excess paint. This is going to make your life that much easier when you go to treat the paint stain.
  2. Lastly, if the paint has unfortunately already dried, use a knife or something similar to scrape as much of it away as you possibly can.
    how to remove acrylic paint from clothes

    • This will help to take away a layer or two and just make it that much easier to remove the stain.

Okay, cool! Now that we have a few tips under our belt, let’s get into how you actually get the paint out of your clothes.

Before treating, you’ll want to try and figure out exactly what kind of paint you were using. There is water-based (which includes latex or acrylic paints, and also some gloss paints) and then there are oil-based paints.

Water-based paints are going to be much easier to remove so fingers crossed, yours was water-based!

Like we mentioned, all paints vary wildly and the results are going to differ greatly depending on exactly what paint it is and what fabric your garment is.

Water-Based Paints

how to get paint out of clothing

  1. Okay first things first, flush the stain with just plain old warm water.
    • Flip the garment over (or inside out, same thing) so that the paint is on the opposite side then using a steady stream of water, flush as much paint out as you can.
    • A stream from the kitchen tap should be sufficient for this part.
  2. Now you’ll want to treat the stain with a mixture of laundry detergent and warm water.
    how to remove dried paint from clothes

    • The mixture should be a ratio of 1:1 or half laundry detergent and half warm water.
    • Warning: always make sure you read the label on your clothes before directly applying the detergent! Or better yet, test it on a conspicuous spot to make sure that the detergent itself isn’t going to ruin your clothes.
    • Now, using a sponge or a clean cloth, work the lather into the stain and blot as much as you can until the paint comes out.
  3. If the stain is super stubborn and the above doesn’t work, try rubbing alcohol
    how to get acrylic paint off clothes

    • Try blotting (not scrubbing) with a cloth that’s soaked in rubbing alcohol.
    • You can also use nail polish remover which is actually even stronger than rubbing alcohol. But again, this can damage synthetic fabrics. Just make sure you triple check the label on your clothes and you should be good to go.
  4. Lastly, you’re going to need to pre-treat the stain with some sort of stain remover and then wash it normally.
    • Try blotting (not scrubbing) with a cloth that’s soaked in rubbing alcohol.
    • You can also use nail polish remover which is actually even stronger than rubbing alcohol. But again, this can damage synthetic fabrics. Just make sure you triple check the label on your clothes and you should be good to go.
      • Lastly, you’re going to need to pre-treat the stain with some sort of stain remover and then wash it normally.
    • Be careful not to wash it with anything else! Sometimes, even though you’ve gotten most of the paint off, the paint can come off in the wash. Better safe than sorry.

Water-based paints are easy! If you follow those instructions, there’s a pretty good chance that all of the paint will come out.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones that have a stain with oil-based paint, then you’re going to need to follow slightly different instructions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zofDfqYizf0

Oil-Based Paints

get paint out of clothes

Just like before, you’ll want to remove as much of the excess paint as you can. Follow the instructions above for what to do.

After you’ve done that, follow these instructions.

  1. Read the paint can to try and see if it recommends a specific paint remover to use for that particular paint.
    remove acylic paint from clothes

    • Some are great and will have one! If it doesn’t, you’re going to want to treat the paint before it dries so hurry up and move on to the next step!
  2. Place the fabric stain-side-down onto a piece of absorbent cloth. With a cloth or a sponge, blot repeatedly at the stain with either a white spirit, turpentine, or the suggested paint remover if you were able to find it.
    • Note: you may need to change the cloth beneath the paint several times as the paint comes off. Make sure you do so or this won’t be very effective. Or worse, it might make the stain even worse.removing dried paint from clothing
  3. Now, rub a healthy amount of laundry detergent in the stain. After you do this, leave the garment to soak in hot water overnight. Obviously, the water won’t stay hot all night, but you get what we mean.
  4. The next morning, give the stain one final scrub to get out any of the final paint. Once you’re done doing that, wash the garment as usual.
    • Again, make sure you don’t wash the garment with anything else! Otherwise, you might find yourself with a bigger problem than when you started.

There you go! If you were lucky enough to find a recommended paint remover on your oil-based paint can, then this process most likely worked and hopefully, your paint stain came out completely.

If there was no recommendation and there’s still a little bit of the stain left, feel free to repeat the process one more time to see if you can get that last little bit of paint out.

Final Word

We have two final tips that we can’t reiterate enough. First, you need to act as quickly as possible! The closer the paint gets to drying, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to get the stain out. If it dries completely, you’re not going to have a good time.

You also need to make sure that you’re reading your garment’s care tag and adjusting your cleaning materials as necessary. If you’re not careful, you may just end up ruining your garment completely.

how to get dry acrylic paint out of clothing

No matter how careful you are, mistakes are bound to happen. Even if you’re not the one painting, you might accidentally bump into a painted wall or sit on a painted bench. It happens.

Luckily it’s not the end of the world and you’ll most likely be able to get at least most of the stain out.

Justin Howe

Writer

Electrician and DIY specialist Justin deleted his own successful tech blog to write expert product reviews and buying guides together with his friend Robert.

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