How to Get Paint Out of Your Clothes? Don’t Stress, Do THIS

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Oops…you got paint on your clothes, now what? Well the first thing to remember is, don’t panic. It happens to all of us at some point….it’s almost par for the course. If you are anything like me you may have had plans to do a “touch up” on something, but it ended up becoming a full-on job instead and you forget to dress for the part when that dreaded “oopsie” occurs.

In this post we’ll explore two scenarios – fresh paint and paint that has already dried. As you probably know the makeup of fabric is definitely different from getting it off your hands. That’s one thing I always loved about acrylic paint, it’s a cinch to wash off your skin. However fabric is a whole other ball game.

Yep, I’ve been there…Sucks, doesn’t it?

Here’s one such garment right here. See, I’m not perfect…I hated that, too, that was a nice skirt!

But I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s going to be OK!

stain

I remember when I was in grade school and art class met once a week. This one teacher always had a big cardboard box full of old shirts that we could slip on whenever we were going to do something messy. Usually that involved tempera paints, as that’s what we used a lot of back then.

When we got older we made it habit to put on something we didn’t mind getting paint on. Of course, I’m here to talk about what to do when you get paint on clothing you do care about. First things first….how easy or difficult it will be will depend on a few things – how freshly the stain happened for starters.

Getting Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

Because acrylics dry so expediently you have to act just as quickly in tackling it if it lands where it shouldn’t. Here’s what I did when I last had one of those “Murphy’s Law’s ” happen to me.

And yes, I am doing a demo for your right now, a la those carpet cleaner demos, lol in which I intentionally dropped a little paint on two different swatches of fabric (to compare different types of materials) to recreate what I did and show you how this works.

how to get paint out of clothes

First, I grabbed a plastic knife and proceeded to scrape off the stain.  A hard tool , like that, is necessary – something soft like a rag may smear the paint drips into the fabric even more. So be sure you use a “hard” tool for this.

I made a beeline for the sink  (I’m doing this demo in the bathroom, too, btw) and rinsed out what I could of the stain. Next, I took some rubbing alcohol, as per some advice I’d gotten from somewhere, yep, that very stuff you may have in your medicine cabinet, and sprayed some of it onto the stain. I keep some alcohol in one of those little spritzer bottles so it will be handy.

getting acrylic paint out of clothes

Then I proceeded to take the knife and scrape over the stained area again. Much to my surprise, it worked! Rubbing alcohol, like acetone nail polish remover, is made to tackle paint.

Now to be totally honest here, I did use a little soap afterward and then went back over it with the knife.  You know I’m not lying when I tell you this kind of paint dries permanently. Lastly, I rinsed it out and then hung it somewhere to dry. Try it! Check to make sure you have either a bottle of acetone or rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol nearby.

get water based paint out of clothes

The garment on the right, which I think included a blend with acetate or nylon, was harder to treat. I agree, that could have come out better than it did.

Repeat after me…Getting to it before it dries makes this easier. You’re welcome!

how do you get paint out of clothes

 

The skirt in the first image, I will probably end up dyeing it a dark brown. Sorry to say that stain is not coming out….

A product like Rit dye is a good option to color over a ruined garment. Be aware that some fabric types do take to it better. Cotton-poly blends do the best. Nylon and Lycra, not so good.

Can Baking Soda Remove Paint?

I’ve heard some people say that baking soda is a great stain remover. Baking soda is a wonderful product that is always on my shopping list. As far as can it tackle paint – I thought I would take it to task. I thought I’d step it up with the rubbing alcohol in a second experiment by combining it with an equal amount of  baking soda.

getting acrylic paint out of clothes with baking soda

So basically *step 1) I combined a tablespoon of baking soda, dish soap and rubbing alcohol and mixed it into a small bowl,. I did another intentional paint “oopsie” (2) which I then proceeded to scrape off (3) Then I took the mixture (had to re-stir, as the ingredients separated at first) and then applied it to the stain.(4). Using the timer on my phone, I set it for 15 minutes. I used my laundry brush to work up the residue. Then wash out the remainder.

Maybe there’s something to it? I think it worked better than alcohol alone!

getting acrylic paint out of fabric

What about latex paint?

As someone who has used acrylic paint A LOT, I have used latex paint too…Ok, not as much, but enough to understand the composition and makeup. It is very similar to it’s acrylic cousin, in that it is water-based and flexible as well as permanent upon application. One thing thing that is different is that latex paint takes longer to dry, which means you may have more leeway to tackle the stain before it sets in, but the formula I showed you using acetone/alcohol, baking soda and soap, would still apply.

Can You Get Dried Paint Out of Clothes?

Sorry to give the bad news, but dried acrylic paint is pretty close to permanent. It comes off of hard nonporous surfaces with some ease if you work it, but once it becomes enmeshed in something fibrous, it’s pretty much set, and anything you try to do at this point would be…not worth the trouble.

Ok, so let’s just say, worst case scenario, the stain is permanent. Now what??

So you didn’t get to the stain quickly enough to tackle it or it didn’t come out as well as it should have (nothing is every foolproof – apologies in advance) Don’t lose hope yet! I remember in the early 90s the splatter paint craze was going on and I was able to up-cycle a sullied tee into a piece of wearable art. Yeah, I know that was a different time 😁

You could dye the garment a darker color to hide the stain,
re-cycle it into a cleaning cloth,
OR…if nothing else, you can do what I did, if we’re talking about a small spot or two:

tshirt i repurposed

Take this tshirt for example; it had a drop on it right near the v-neck, and that is hard to hide. I was very irked. But I had an ace up my sleeve….I ended up sewing on some decorative buttons – one to hide the spot and the others in a pattern, and this is someone who despises sewing. But did it work? You betcha!

Final Thoughts…

Nevertheless, you know know all about the in’s and out’s of getting paint out of clothing AND how to do it with a smile. Just follow the guidelines above to determine if the paint is removable in the first place AND then proceed. But if it’s not, perhaps a creative hack like the one I found could save the day??

Pin Me, Friend!

how to get dried paint out of clothes

 

Oh, and going further….make sure to have those smocks or aprons handy for next time!

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