How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

Paintbrush with green acrylic paint on top of jeans next to cotton ball and clothes pins

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 20 mins
  • Total Time: 2 - 4 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5-10

Paint drips and spills happen—we don't always see those "Wet Paint" signs. When you find paint stains on your clothes, hope they are from acrylic paint. While oil-based paint stains are much more difficult to remove, water-based acrylic paint can almost always be removed from clothes.

The key to successful removal is to act quickly. You'll have much better luck removing the stain if the paint is still wet. If you can't treat the stain right away, try to keep the area damp by dabbing it with water. But, even if the paint dries, there are still treatments using some household products that should help you remove the stain. You'll just need a bit more patience!

These instructions are for removing acrylic paint from washable clothes. For dry-clean-only garments or home accessories, take them to a reputable dry cleaner as soon as possible. Tell the cleaner what type of paint caused the stain (if you know) for the best results.

Detergent Heavy-duty laundry detergent
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Usual cycle for the type of fabric
Drying Cycle Type Do not dry clothes in an automatic dryer until all paint is removed then dry as usual
Special Treatments Pretreat paint stains before washing
Iron Settings Do not iron clothes until all of the paint is removed

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Dull knife, spoon, or old credit card
  • Washer, laundry sink, or large tub
  • Automatic clothes dryer, clothesline, or drying rack
  • Soft-bristled nylon brush
  • White rag


  • Heavy-duty laundry detergent
  • Enzyme-based stain remover
  • Commercial paint remover
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Cotton swab


Materials and tools to remove acrylic paint from clothing

The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Get Wet Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

  1. Lift Away the Paint

    If the acrylic paint stain is a drip or blob of paint, use the edge of a dull kitchen knife, spoon, or old credit card to lift away as much of the paint as possible from the surface of the fabric. Do not rub with a cloth or paper towel. That will only push the paint deeper into the fibers.

    Wet acrylic paint lifted from jean clothing with dull knife

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Flush Out the Paint

    As quickly as possible, hold the reverse side of the paint-stained area under a faucet with cold to warm water running at full force. The water will help force the paint out of the fibers.


    If possible, after removing as much paint as possible from the surface, keep the area wet by dabbing with a damp towel until you can treat the stain at home.

    Jeans held inside-out and flushed with running sink water

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Apply Stain Remover

    While the fabric is wet, put a few drops of an enzyme-based stain remover or heavy-duty detergent on the stained area. Use a soft-bristled brush or your fingers to work the stain remover into the fabric. Allow the stain remover to work for at least 15 minutes before taking the next step.

    Acrylic paint stain sprayed with enzyme-based stain remover

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Wash as Usual

    After the stain remover has had a chance to work, wash the garment following your usual routine.

    Pat stained jeans placed in washing machine with laundry detergent

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Check the Stained Clothing

    After machine- or hand-washing the clothing, check the stained area. Do not put the item in a hot dryer if the paint stain is still visible. Repeat the stain-removal treatment steps and rewash the clothing.

    Jeans checked for stain removal after washing

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  6. Dry as Usual

    Once the stain is removed, dry the clothing following your usual routine.

    Jean clothing placed in dryer machine after stain removal

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

How to Get Dried Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

If the paint has dried before you discover the stain or the stain is stubborn, follow these steps.

  1. Treat With Isopropyl Alcohol

    Using a cotton swab or small white rag, apply some isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) to the paint stain. Work from the outside edge of the stain toward the center to prevent the spreading of the paint. Work slowly and saturate the fabric with the alcohol.

    Dried acrylic paint stain on jean clothing treated with asopropyl alcohol on cotton ball

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  2. Lift Away Loosened Paint

    Use a dull kitchen knife blade or the edge of an old credit card to lift away paint as it releases from the fibers. Apply more alcohol as needed.

    Dull knife scraping loosened acrylic paint from jean clothing

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  3. Treat the Stained Area

    Once you have removed as much of the paint as possible, use an enzyme-based stain remover to treat the stain. Work in the stain remover with a soft-bristled brush and allow it to work for at least 15 minutes before washing the clothes.

    Acrylic paint stain scrubbed with enzyme-based stain remover on bristled brush

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  4. Wash the Clothes

    Wash the clothes as usual but check the paint-stained area before tossing them in a dryer. Repeat the steps if the stain remains.

    Jean clothing with dried acrylic paint stain placed in washing machine

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald

  5. Last Resort

    If the alcohol and stain remover did not work after a couple of treatments, use a commercial paint stain remover as a last resort. Choose a citrus-based paint remover for a less toxic treatment.


    Do not use acetone, turpentine, or petroleum-based paint strippers on acetate or triacetate clothes because the fibers will dissolve and this cannot be reversed.

    Cotton ball adding paint stain remover to dried paint stain on jean clothing

    The Spruce / Meg MacDonald


Do not iron clothes that are stained with acrylic paint. The heat of the iron will set the stain permanently.

Tips for Washing Clothes With Acrylic Paint Stains

  • Treat and remove acrylic paint stains as quickly as possible.
  • Keep the area damp to make stain removal easier.
  • Do not dry clothes that are still paint-stained in an automatic dryer.
  • Is it better to remove acrylic paint when it's wet or dry?

    Removing wet acrylic paint is much easier to do than dried acrylic paint. Acrylic paint is water-soluble when fresh but won't respond to water once it's dry.

  • Is acrylic paint hard to get off of clothes?

    Water-based acrylic paint is a breeze to get off of clothes. Oil-based acrylics are much tougher to remove, but not impossible. You'll just need patience, as with any stain removal method, because you'll probably have to wash the item a couple of times to remove the paint. Remember not to dry the item until the stain is gone.

  • How do you remove dried acrylic paint without rubbing alcohol?

    Use an old toothbrush to rub a good-quality, heavy-duty laundry detergent into the stain. Then rinse or wash in cold water. Repeat these steps until the stain is gone. Then you can dry the item. If you don't have rubbing alcohol, you can use a bit of paint thinner to remove an oil-based acrylic paint stain.