Suggestions on Cleaning Acrylic Paint out of Clothing

Posted by James Robinson on


How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

Acrylic paint is a popular form of paint for use in art, craft, house decorating and general paint jobs. It is designed to dissolve in water but if it ends up on your clothing, it can stain. Luckily, in many cases, it is possible to remove it with quick action. Every option will work regardless of if the paint is dry or wet, but always try to scrape the paint off first if it's still wet.  Note these are not guarantees but these suggestions can help to remove acrylic paint from your clothing.

Method 1

Preparing to Treat Your Clothing

1.  Act quickly. Regardless of the method, you choose to remove the acrylic paint from your clothing, the faster you respond to treating the stain, the more likely it is that you'll successfully remove it from the clothing.

    2.  Scrape any congealed or blobs of paint off your clothing with a spoon or knife. If the paint is still wet, dab it gently with a paper towel or cloth to soak up the excess paint. The key is to get as much paint off as possible as soon as possible.

    • A bristled brush may help with tougher fabrics, especially if the paint has congealed in large globules. A brush is a good substitute for a spoon if you don’t feel comfortable using eating utensils.

     3.  Don’t panic. Don’t give up and throw your shirt away or get frustrated. Even if it is a nice article of clothing, you might be able to save it from staining. Just move quickly and follow the instructions.

      4.  Dab as much of the paint off with a dry paper towel as possible. This will only work if the paint is still wet. Remember to dab, not to rub. Dabbing will remove the excess wet paint that hasn't already soaked into your clothing. Rubbing will push the excess paint further into your clothing and make it even more difficult to remove. Once you have dabbed off the extra wet paint you can proceed to any of the following steps.

      Method 2

      Removing the Paint with Isopropyl Alcohol

        1.  Soak the stained area with isopropyl alcohol. The stained area should be completely saturated, so be generous with the amount. You can buy isopropyl alcohol online or at your local pharmacy for a relatively low price. CVS will sell you a bottle for $ 2.50.

        2.  Scratch at the paint. Use your fingernail, a wooden stick, a coin, or another item to scrape away at the paint and try to lift it off the fabric. When scraping, go with, then against the grain of the fabric, back and forth. Liftoff as much as you can before proceeding to the next step. 


        3.  Put the clothing into the washing machine. Set the cycle you'd usually use for this type of clothing and wash with the usual detergent. Hopefully, the washing machine can get rid of the excess paint that you weren’t able to remove with the scrubbing and the alcohol.

         4.  Dry as usual. Hopefully, the stain will have been lifted out by both the alcohol and the wash. If you aren’t satisfied you can repeat the process over again, but it might be too late.

        Method 3

        Removing the Paint with Ammonia and Vinegar

        1.  Soak the stained part of the clothing with cold water. Drop it into a sink or bucket filled up with water. Let it soak in there for a minute before you continue. You want it to be thoroughly drenched.

        2.  Mix together 1 cup/240ml of ammonia, 1 cup/240ml of white vinegar and a handful of salt. Do this in a separate bowl. You can make the mixture while your clothing is soaking in the water to save time. 

        3.  Drain the water from the soaking clothing. Twist the clothing together to wring out the water. Try to get out a good amount of water so that it’s not dripping heavily, but don’t worry if it’s still wet or damp. You want it to be damp – that was the whole point of soaking it after all.

        4.  Dip a lint-free cloth or sponge in the solution of ammonia and vinegar. Now scrub the paint stain with this cloth or sponge. Don’t be afraid to scrub pretty hard. Dip in the solution as often as needed until the stain appears to be lifting.

        5.  Rinse the clothing with water. Now check to see if the stain has been lifted. Repeat if it is still there. Hopefully after repeating this process once or twice the stain should have faded away. You will see immediate results.

        6.  Toss the scrubbed clothing into the washing machine. Wash as usual and then dry your clothes. Check again and see if the stain has now gone. If you still aren’t satisfied you can repeat the process but you probably will only see results with diminishing returns.

        Method 4

        Removing the Paint with Dish Detergent

        1.  Turn the garment inside out - or at least the part where the stain is. Hold it under warm running water to try to flush out as much of the paint as possible.

        2.  Mix one part liquid dish detergent with one part warm water. This is the solution you are going to use to attempt to get rid of the stain. This method is helpful because you are likely to have dish detergent on hand. 

        3.  Dip a lint-free cleaning cloth or sponge into the solution. Dab and sponge the stain with vigor; avoid rubbing too much though, as this can spread the stain. Don’t be afraid to use your fingernails on the stain. Try to get out as much as possible.

        4.  Rinse with water. Check for the stain. You can repeat the detergent dabbing if needed or if you aren’t satisfied with the amount that came off. 

         5.  Wash as usual. Just wash these clothes the way you normally would wash them. Make sure the article of clothing can be machine washed. Now dry your clothes as you normally would and check for the stain again. Hopefully, it has now gone.

        Method 5

        Removing the Paint with Window Cleaner or Hairspray

        1.  Gently blot the stain with a cleaning rag or paper towel. Don't rub the paint in. This step is only needed if the paint is still wet. 

        2.  Spray the window cleaner or hairspray onto the cleaning cloth or sponge. Hold the dampened area over the top of a bottle of nail polish remover and moisten with a little acetone. If you have either window spray or hairspray in the house, both of these products might remove the stain.

        • It's recommended that you test an inconspicuous area on the piece of clothing first to be sure the fabric can handle the chemicals in these products. If not, use a different method.

        3.  Scrub the paint stain with a moistened cloth. Position the cloth over the stain and start scrubbing up and down. Try not to be too vigorous - you want to avoid spreading the stain. Remember to take off as much of the paint as possible with a knife or your fingernail before you start to scrub the paint stain with the cleaner. You want to avoid spreading the stain as much as possible. 

        4.  Wash immediately. This potent cleaning mixture needs to be removed quickly before it damages the fabric fibers. Wash as usual, then dry. This should remove the stain.

        Commonly Asked Questions


        If the acrylic paint has dried, can I still use one of the methods in the article to remove it?


        Yes, you can use rubbing alcohol or 409 kitchen cleaning spray. Use a toothbrush to rub it in. This works on stains that have dried and have been on the clothing for months.


        How can I get dry paint out?


        Use rubbing alcohol and 409 kitchen cleaning spray. Then use a toothbrush to rub it in. This works on stains that have dried and have been on the clothing for months


        Will washing my clothing that has acrylic paint on it ruin the rest of my laundry load?


        If at all possible, watch the paint-stained clothing separately. But honestly, as long as the paint is dry, it probably doesn't really matter.


        Can I use a toothbrush to remove the stain?


        Yes, a toothbrush can be used to scrub the stain out of your clothes, although it might not be 100% effective (especially if the bristles are soft).


        Can I remove a paint stain after I have already washed the article of clothing?


        You may or may not be successful, but it's worth a try. Use nail polish remover and some dry cloth. Keep on rubbing and it should come out.


        How do I remove the stain if my paint was really diluted when I used it?


        Even if it was diluted, it would still be best to try one of these methods just in case.


        How do I remove paint that's been on my shirt for 2 weeks?


        Use rubbing alcohol and 409 kitchen cleaning spray, using a toothbrush to rub it in. This works on stains that have dried and have been on the clothing for months.


        Can I paint wool with watered-down acrylic paint?


        The wool might soak up the diluted acrylic paint, and wash out easily.


        How do I remove stains from colored clothing?


        Most acrylic paint will come out in the wash. Pre-soak the clothes if it is a stubborn stain.

        Additional suggested tips


        • Another possible solution: Use rubbing alcohol and 409 kitchen cleaning spray. Then use a toothbrush to rub it in. This works on stains that have dried and have been on the clothing for months.
        • As much as possible, don't let the paint dry. It is easier to remove wet stains than when they dry.
        • Always spot test an inconspicuous area first to see how the fabric responds.
        • You can also try dabbing the area with nail polish remover or thinner, but it might damage your clothes. Only try this on natural fibers, and check the solution on an inconspicuous part of your clothing first.
        • Any cleaning solution risks making things worse, dependent on what is used, the type of fabric affected and the method of application. Given that the clothing is already painted stained though, it's worth trying to remove the stain at least.
        • Un-washable fabrics will stay paint-stained. Try taking it to a dry cleaner to see if anything can be done. If not, think of creative ways to cover up or incorporate the stain into the outfit.

        Remember these are all suggestions and not guarantees that the acrylic paint will come out however these are some of the best suggestions I have come across.  Please share any additional suggestions or your experience with taking out removing acrylic paint from clothing, thank you.


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