How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

Man in blue jeans stained with paint holding painting supplies

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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

Materials

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

Instructions

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.

  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.

    Tip

    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.

  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.

  4. Wash as Usual

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

  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.

  6. Dry as Usual

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

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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

  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.

    Warning

    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.

Ironing

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.