How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

Is getting paint stains out of clothes spoiling the fun? It’s time to look for new and improved ways to deal with all kinds of paint stains. Rolling your sleeves up before painting isn’t the best solution to prevent this from happening. There are all kinds of ways you can accidentally get paint on yourself.

This guide puts together all the necessary details for dealing with paint removal from clothes. These instructions are simple, effective, and 100% authentic for removing all kinds of paints. That includes water-based and oil-based paints. So let’s begin.

1. What Kind Of Paint Is it?

Knowing the exact paint type before getting the stain off is important. Without this information, you could be opting for the wrong method of removing paint. As a result of which, the fibers of the fabric might lose color or become extremely hard.

So there are 2 general categories of paint: water-based and oil-based paints. Out of the two, the former is the easiest and quickest to remove. Water-based paints include acrylic paints, latex, and some gloss paints.

Even though water-based paints are the easiest to remove, some aren’t. So if the method of removing paint stains isn’t as effective as you’d want it to be, don’t get disappointed. You can try to remove as much of the paint as possible, which removes all the excess paint off the fibers of the fabric.

Oil-based paints, on the other hand, are difficult to remove or wash away. They include paints quick similar to glass paints. Studies suggest that many people use glass paint to create permanent designs on clothing such as T-shirts. Hence getting an oil-based paint out of clothing can get extremely difficult.

The best way to determine an oil-based paint from water-based paints is by their texture. The former is thicker and glossier than the latter. This also means oil-based paints take longer to dry on any surface, so getting the paint stains off before it’s too late is essential. (1)

2. Preparing Your Clothes For Paint Removal

The first step to getting paint out of your clothes is to remove the excessive paint off the fabric. The faster you get the excess paint out from the fabric, the more likely it is that the paint will come off completely. So acting quickly on this is very important.

Preparing your clothes is the same regardless of the paint removal method you choose for oil-based or water-based paints. All you have to do is respond faster to treating the stain before the paint dries on the fibers of the fabric completely.   

To do this, use a plastic knife or tool to scrape the blobbed paint off the fabric. You can even use a plastic spoon to scoop the excess paint off. If you’re scared of spreading the wet paint even further on the fabric, use a dry paper towel to wipe and soak up the wet paint. Then proceed with the plastic knife or spoon to get as much paint off the clothing as fast as possible.

If you’re dealing with a harder fabric, alternate between a plastic spoon and a bristled brush. A bristled brush comes in handy when you don’t have plastic utensils in your home.

Working with wet paint isn’t easy. Before scraping or scooping the paint off, dabbing the infected area with a paper towel is essential. Always remember not to rub the area as that can lead to a larger stain on the fabric.

3. Using Isopropyl Alcohol To Remove The Paint

There are many ways to get paint out of clothes. And one of those ways is to use isopropyl alcohol is to do that job. You can buy isopropyl alcohol at a local pharmacy or purchase it online for all your arts and crafts projects.

Once you scoop the paint off, soak the stained area only until it is completely saturated. You need only to use a small amount of alcohol, depending on the size of the paint stain. A small bottle of isopropyl alcohol costs less than $5 and will last you a very long time.

Moving forward, use your fingernail, or a plastic knife, coin, or any other item that will scrape the paint from the fabric. While doing this, go against the grain of the fibers on the fabric and then towards. Continue doing this a couple of times before you notice the paint coming off. You may not be able to get the paint completely off, but lift as much paint as you can. (2)

Throw in that piece of clothing into the washing machine and wash as you normally would. Add the usual detergent and fabric softener into the machine and set the ideal washing time. This will remove the paint as effectively as possible.

You can repeat this process once more if you’re still unsatisfied with the way it looks. But don’t shy away from the possibility that it might be too late to get the paint out of your clothing.

4. Have You Tried Using Ammonia And Vinegar?

Another way of getting paint out of clothes is with the help of ammonia and vinegar. But beware of bleaching as the chemicals involved are prone to it. Here’s how you can use ammonia and vinegar to remove any stained part of the clothing. (3,4)

  1. Soak the fabric in cold water by leaving it in a bucket filled with water. Soak the fabric for at least 2 minutes before proceeding to the next step.
  2. In a bowl, combine 1 cup of ammonia, 1 cup of vinegar, and some house salt.
  3. Remove the clothing from the bucket filled with water. Drain out all the water by twisting the fibers of the fabric. Make sure the clothing is not dripping heavily; a little dampness is alright to begin with.
  4. Use a sponge or a lint-free cloth into the ammonia and vinegar solution. Dip it in the solution and gently scrub the paint stain. You can scrub the stain heavily too, if you like, depending on the size and intensity of the paint stain. Repeat this process as many times as you need to remove the paint stain off completely.
  5. If the paint has been lifted, rinse the clothing with water. Until the paint color has completely been washed away.
  6. The last step is to wash the clothing as you normally would in the washing machine. This will get rid of the ammonia and vinegar solution 100%.

5. Getting The Paint Out With Dish Detergent   

For some garments with less stubborn fibers, a dish detergent does the job well. It’s a simple procedure to follow, so here it is.

Turn the clothing inside out to expose the part of the paint stain. Rinse the clothing under running warm water to lift as much of the excess paint as possible.

Add a few drops of dish detergent with warm water in a bowl. You can use one part liquid dish detergent and one part warm water. But the amount of both depends on the size and intensity of the paint stain. Do what you think is the right amount of detergent and warm water!

Use a lint-free cloth or sponge to dip it into the detergent solution. Scrub or dab the paint stain, gently at first, but don’t rub against the fiber too much as that could lead to discoloration. It might even spread the paint stain further away from the original spot. If the lint-free cloth is ineffective, you can use your fingernails to get as much paint as possible.

If the stain has been lifted off completely, rinse the clothing under running water. If not, repeat the process of detergent scrubbing until you are satisfied.

Wash the clothing as you normally would in a washing machine. Air drying is preferred to maintain the quality of the fibers of the clothing.  

6. Using A Window Cleaner or Cosmetic Hairspray

Not many people opt for a hairspray or window cleaner to get paint stains out of their clothing. But it is considered an effective way of paint removal. The first step is to blot the area of the stain with a dry paper towel. You can even use a cleaning rag if you think a paper towel will spread the stain.

Make sure to not scrub the paint stain, especially when the paint is still wet. Use a cloth or sponge and spray a portion of hairspray or window cleaner on it. But before doing this, dampen the sponge area with a little bit of acetone, which is a nail polish remover, to moisten the sponge.

Use a bit of hairspray or window cleaner on a certain area of the clothing to make sure it works. This is to make sure the fabric can handle the chemicals present in either of these products. After spraying some of the product on the paint stain, leave it on for a minute before scrubbing it offer with a moist cloth.

Make sure to scrub back and forth of the fibers of the fabric. But try to do it gently, and not too vigorously. Scrubbing too vigorously will spread the stain. After the paint stain lifts off the fabric completely, wash the fabric in a washing machine and dry. You can repeat this process a few more times if the stain doesn’t come off completely.

7. Deciding The Right Oil Paint Solvent

Using a chemical paint solvent is an effective method of getting paint out of clothes and other surfaces. This is the best oil-based paint removing agent to use. Removing oil-based paint is way more difficult than water-based paints. And it gets worse if you allow the paint to dry completely before getting it out. (5,6)

A chemical paint solvent is good for treating even delicate fabrics. It works against water to remove the paint stains because using water to remove oil-based paints does more harm than good. That is because water acts like glue which sticks the paint to the clothing.

Based on my studies, there are plenty of chemical solvents to rely on for oil paint removal. You can purchase it in almost all home improvement stores, online, or in art shops. Here are the simple steps to remove oil-based paint out of clothes.

  1. Spray the oil paint solvent on the paint spot.
  2. Using your fingertips, rub the stain spot and wipe it clean with a lint-free cloth.
  3. Repeat this process at least 3 times to effectively remove the stain.
  4. Before soaking the fabric in water, check for any oil residue, which is common.
  5. Soak the clothing in warm water and rinse to get rid of any leftover stain.
  6. Wash them in a washing machine as usual.

Oil paint solvents are greasy by nature. They work if the paint hasn’t dried on the clothing completely. But if the paint has set, it may be that the oil paint solvent will leave a great oil spot on your clothing. That is in addition to your paint spot. So it’s important to get paint out before it’s too late. (7)

8. Is It A Sensitive Fabric?

You can also opt for dry-cleaning techniques to get paint out of clothes effectively. Dry-cleaning techniques are good for sensitive fabrics like wool, velvet, silk, acetate, etc. Even if your article of clothing isn’t of these fabrics, but the labels reads “Dry-Clean Only”, you might want to opt for dry-cleaning methods for getting paint out.

You need to scoop out all the extra paint, still wet, from the fibers of the fabric. The quickest way to get the most possible paint out is when the paint is still wet. This prevents possible damage. Avoid scrubbing the fabric too hard or using harsh bristle brushes. The use of hard brush on the surface of the fabric may tear the area of the stain.

Spray any high-quality dry-cleaning solution on a sponge and gently blot the paint stain. This keeps the paint stain from spreading. You can start blotting around the corners of the stain and work your way towards the center of the spot.

The next step is to use a dry spotter which comes with highly-absorbent chemicals to clean away stains and grease. They work well against oil paint stains, which makes them particularly effective with latex and acrylic paints.

For conscious users, you can combine coconut oil with a liquid dry cleaning solvent to make your own dry spotter for versatile use.

To reduce the stain for bleeding into the fibers of fabric, moisten a cloth with the dry spotter and place it on the stain. This will absorb all the paint stains and clean the fibers of the fabric effectively.

Wash the cloth with dry cleaning solvent, as you would other pieces of clothing. You can do this once the paint stain is completely removed from the fabric. If you’re not completely satisfied with the way your fabric looks, that is if there is any remaining grease or oil stain on it, repeat the dry cleaning process a couple of times. But make sure not to tear the sensitive fabric.

9. Removing Latex Paint

It’s difficult to remove latex paint from clothing, but it definitely isn’t impossible. You can use all kinds of techniques including rubbing alcohol, warm water mixed with detergent, hairspray, or a gel hand sanitizer. These are all common ways to get latex paint out of the clothes. The less known ways are as follows.

Using paint thinner

Separate half a cup of paint thinner and pour it into a container, preferably a yogurt container. Make sure to use a saturated rag to scrub off the excess paint. As and when the clean rag gets dirty, squeeze the excess thinner and paint into another yogurt container. Continue this until the paint stain is completely gone.

I do not recommend using a paint thinner on more sensitive materials. It may tear or inflame thinner fibers of a fabric.

Using specialty cleaning products

You know those high-end cleaning products that promise to clean thick, greasy stains off surface? Those are specialty cleaning products that are best stored in on well-ventilated areas. They generally have a sharp smell and allow you to soak any kind of sticky stain for at least 2 minutes.

With the help of a hard brush or a pumice stone, you can scrub off a paint stain out of clothing. Do this only on fabrics you know have thick fibers and can withstand the gentle scrubbing.

Using lavender oil

This may seem unusual, but it works to remove certain kinds of stains. A few drops of lavender oil can get latex paint out of clothes. Even though requires minutes of scrubbing, you can use a plastic spoon or knife to get it out faster.

10. Getting Off Dry Paint

If the paint has completely dried on your clothing, there is a simple way to get it out. Paint is more likely to dry faster on thinner fabrics, so using sensitive tools like a butter knife or a spoon is important.

Scrape all the excess paint you can with a butter knife. This works on delicate, thick, and jean-like fabrics. Make sure to place the clothing on a sturdy surface, like a marble floor or ironing board. Apply some pressure on the paint stain and gently scrub the blobs of paint stuck on the fabric.

After all the excess paint is out, cover the stained area with duct tape. Apply firm pressure on the fabric and gently pull the tape off. This will effectively remove bits and pieces of the paint. Do this only when dealing with dry paint. If you do this to get wet paint out of clothes, it will spread further.

If that doesn’t help either, which might happen for thicker fabrics, use a disposable razor. Gently scrub the surface back and forth with the razor to scrape the left-over paint off the clothing. Do not use it on materials like silk, cotton, or similar fabrics. This only works on denim or wool.

The last thing you can do is scrub off the dried paint using an emery board. An emery board works like a 300 grit sandpaper to scrape of any ingrained paint. Complete this process by washing the clothing in a washing machine. You can repeat any one of these techniques to get dried paint out of clothes until you are satisfied.


It’s true when they said that the longer you wait to remove any kind of paint stain, the harder it is to get paint out of clothes. While a small dot or splatter of paint can be washed with detergent in a washing machine, bigger stains can’t.

The use of brushes, old toothbrush, detergent, rubbing alcohol, etc. is necessary when dealing with different kinds of paint. This includes latex, acrylic, water-based, and oil-based paints. The same technique applies to different kinds of materials such as denim, wool, silk, cotton, etc.

If you’re using more environmentally-friendly fabrics, using techniques that involves less use of harmful chemicals such as paint thinner or alcohol is important. You can use natural oils, detergent, hairspray, or vinegar to get oil-based stains out.

To avoid such a mishap, wearing old clothes during painting so as to avoid damaging expensive clothing is essential. If the mentioned steps don’t work and the paint stain is still holding up badly on the surface of your clothing, then it’s probably too late.

You can also opt for commercially-sold paint removers that come with much stronger and harsher chemicals. But this only applies to thicker garments such as denim or wool. The use of paint removers or paint thinners on thin fabrics is not recommended.

In the same way, putting all your stained clothes in a washing machine is a complete no-no. It can stain or spread the paint all over your clothing, doing more harm than good. That’s why reading this guide on how to get paint out of clothes is necessary.

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