How to Get Paint off Clothes


There are a few common mistakes that most people make when trying to scrub paint off clothes. The first one is letting it dry before attempting to remove it. The second one is not knowing the type of paint.

If you’re planning on doing some interior redecorating, you should be well aware of what paint you’re using. It will not only help you clean furniture mishaps but also accidental spills on your clothes. Using the proper safety gear will help you avoid getting paint in your eyes, but won’t do much for your attire.

Here’s how to clean up after the mess.

Types of Paint and How to Handle Them


The most commonly used paint in household projects is acrylic or latex paint. If you ask for something to coat a kitchen wall with at your local hardware store, that’s probably the one they’ll recommend.

Wet Paint

Acrylic paint is not hard to remove but you have to act quickly. It’s best to keep a spoon or a butter knife close by so you can scrape the excess paint off as soon as a spill happens. If the stain is still wet, put the clothing under running water and start scrubbing.

However, there is a trick to doing this properly. Don’t just run the water on the wet paint stain, what you want to do instead is run the water from the back of the stain to try and push it out.

Unlike getting wine stains out of clothes, removing paint requires thorough scrubbing.

A cleaning solution with emulsifying properties is also helpful. It should help break down the paint and speed up the process. Something as simple as a combination of hand soap and dishwasher soap should be enough for a fresh paint stain.

Dry Paint

If you can’t afford to waste any time, you can try to remove the paint stain when it’s dry. To do that you can use duct tape to remove the layers of paint. Go for the heavy duty stuff like gaffers tape or auto repair tape.

This action should be performed quickly.

You could also use isopropyl alcohol to remove dry stains. Rub it in and let it soak for one or two minutes before you start scrubbing under running water.

Oil Paints

If you were an art major and have tons of free time at home, you probably still use oil paint from time to time. Maybe as a hobby or maybe you like painting something cool for your kids. This paint is thicker than latex and requires a different cleaning approach.

The first step is a no-brainer. Remove as much paint as possible before you start blotting the stain. Don’t use water to rinse unless you want to make it harder to remove.

The next step requires figuring out the right chemical solvent. Oil paints don’t come off clothes with just some soap and water.

You can find a solvent or cleaner recommendation on most paint cans. If yours doesn’t, try using turpentine or white spirit. Turpentine can be found in home improvement stores because it’s a popular paint thinner.

To keep in mind – not all fabrics react well to turpentine. Check the label or online for information if you’re unsure about the composition of your clothes.

After you apply the solvent, make sure to turn your clothing article inside out. Also, put a cloth or stack of paper towels underneath it. They should be white.

Change the towels when they get wet so that they keep absorbing the dissolving paint. If you notice discolorations on your stained article of clothing, it could mean that you may never remove the stain. That’s the signal that you should stop using solvent.

After the solvent has done its job, it’s time to put some detergent on the soaked area and rub it in. After that, leave it soaking in warm water for at least one hour before you attempt to wash it in the machine.

Dry Clean Fabrics

Not all fabrics should be treated the same way when trying to remove paint stains. If your stained article of clothing has a dry clean only label, you need to take a different approach. Soaking is not an option.

The first step is always the same. Remove excess paint as fast as possible. Be sure to take a more gentle approach as these sensitive fabrics don’t react well to aggressive rubbing.

Blot the stain with a soft kitchen sponge. You should also use some dry cleaning solution on the sponge. This will help prevent the stain from spreading. It’s recommended that you work your way from the outside in.

After that you’ll want to blot the stain some more but this time with a dry spotter. This contains dry solvents that absorb oil stains and won’t ruin the fabrics. If you don’t have one, mix coconut oil and liquid dry cleaning solvent. It’s not ideal but it might just work in an emergency.

After this point, the stain should be barely visible. When this happens, it’s time to use some more dry spotter by moistening a cloth and using it to cover the stain. Keep doing this until the stain is gone.

When it’s time to rinse, use some more dry cleaning solvent. This should remove any remaining oil. Don’t force dry the fabric, let it dry off naturally.

Final Thought

Paint isn’t too hard to remove from clothes as long as you have the right products for the job. If you’re planning on starting a home improvement project, be sure to buy either some paint solvent or dry cleaning products.

If you know what paint you’re using and what clothing articles might get affected in the process, it’s easy to plan ahead. Although it’s probably still best if you find some clothes that you don’t mind getting ruined in the process.