Removing Paint Stains From Clothing

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Craft and home improvement projects are messy when there’s paint involved. You take precautions like wear old clothing when crafting or painting but most times easily forgotten and get paint spilled on your favorite clothing. Or sometimes your overzealous creative children running around can have paint over their clothes and even your clothes. Or you accidentally rubbed against wet paint when doing some home renovation project. Whatever the case, paint stains are something you’ve probably experienced before. Paint stains are common but tough stains but you don’t have to throw stained clothing out.

The most important thing is to treat paint stain as quickly as you can because once the paint dries, the stain may be impossible to remove. There are few things to keep in mind when you are trying to remove paint stain. First identify the type of paint whether it is water-based or oil based. Water based can be easily removed but oil based need paint thinner or spirits so it’s best to do in well-ventilated area. Secondly, whenever you are trying a stain removal method for the first time on a fabric – ensure you do a spot test in an inconspicuous area first, just in case! At the first sign of color bleeding or fading, stop what you’re doing and accept the sad fate of your garment. Also to keep in mind: while some materials may be able to stand up to these stain treatments, more fragile ones like silk may be permanently damaged.

Here are some hints and tips to get this tricky stain out of your favorite clothes. When cleaning any stain, remove any excess paint from the fabric.

Removing Latex Paint

Latex paint is the most common paint used in modern interiors, and is a popular choice for low-cost craft paint. And since latex paint is water based, there is fair chance you can remove fresh paint with water. Good news is fresh latex paint can easily be washed out. Place a pad of clean rags or paper towels directly under the paint to keep it from transferring to another area of garment. Then scoop off excess wet paint with a spoon or butter knife, then rinse under warm running water, and blot carefully with a clean dry rag or paper towel. Turn the garment inside out and begin rinsing. Try not to get paint to dry.

For a dry paint, scrape off the excess paint with butter knife or hard bristled brush. Run warm water from back side of garment and flush the stain vigorously. You can use liquid dish detergent as long as cloth is color-safe. Using a sponge dipped in detergent solution, sponge the stain directly tamping it vigorously. Rinse and repeat this process until no more paint is removed. Work on the area with clean sections of cloth, and move the padding underneath occasionally as well.

If the paint still remains, allow garment to dry. And again scrape off excess dried paint with butter knife or firmly press a piece of packing or duct tape onto the paint and then lift it off, repeating until no more comes off.

You can also use rubbing or denatured alcohol (or as a last resort, nail polish remover) to the stain and work at it with an old toothbrush. Blot with water and repeat as required, then launder as usual. Do not use acetone on fabrics containing acetate or triacetate – it will melt these fibers.

Removing Oil based and acrylic paint

Oil based paint are mostly used in art and craft projects. Oil paint is thicker and glossier than latex paints and also takes longer time to dry than latex paints. If your cloth’s paint stain is due to oil-based paint, brush off as much excess paint as you can, using hard bristled brush. If the paint has dried, soften it by treating it with the product the paint manufacturer recommends for thinning the paint.

For the paint that is wet, scrape off excess paint with a knife or spoon then blot and rinse. Don’t let fabric to dry. Place the fabric stain-face down over an absorbent cloth or on a stack of white paper towels. Starting from back of the garment blot the stain with turpentine and tamp to break the paint. Keep an eye on colors to make sure they don’t run. If you notice that the colors in your clothing are beginning to run, stop applying solvent. It is unlikely that you will be able to remove the paint stain from this item. Continue this process until the stain disappears or until no more paint can be removed, replacing the cloth underneath when it becomes wet. Do not rinse. Treat the remaining stain with liquid hand dishwashing soap and soak overnight, gently rubbing the stain occasionally. Launder the cloth as per garment directions. Do not apply turpentine or paint thinner on fabrics like rayon, acetate or triacetate. Check with garment’s care information before proceeding with these removing methods.


Follow these few tips and tricks to remove tough paint stains from your favorite garments and you don’t have to throw away those paint stained clothes. Remember there are many different paints and it is best to consult the paint manufacturer for specific advice.

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