What’s the Best Way to Get Paint Out of Your Clothes?


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 yo 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?


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! 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.

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

Can You Get Dried Paint Out of Clothes?

Sorry to give the bad news, but dried 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:

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!

tshirt i repurposed

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….

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 – depends. If it’s a hard surface like metal, it will be very easy due to the oxidation process that takes place as a result of sodium bicarbonate reacting with the residue and surface.

As far as paint remaining on fabric goes, haven’t tried it yet but if I do a demo I will let you know what transpires.

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!

getting paint out of clothes

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

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