How to Remove Paint from Clothes from Home

By Milan Art Institute on May 16, 2020
How to Remove Paint from Clothes from Home

Are you or a close friend/family member a chronic messy painter? Do you regularly spill paint on various articles of clothing? If the answer is yes, this article has all the information you need to learn how to clean paint from clothes.

Let’s be honest, painters aren’t always the cleanest and most careful handlers of paint. One minute, you’re vibing to your favorite song, laying down those brushstrokes; the next minute, you’re dancing, while simultaneously flinging your loaded paintbrush all around the room. Now you need a home remedy to remove paint from clothes, ASAP! Whether you are an artist jamming with your paint, or you’re just painting the walls of your house, paint seems to find it’s way on things we don’t want it on. How do we solve these inconvenient dilemmas, you may ask? Well here are some sure-fire ways on how to clean paint from clothes.


Types of Paint Stains

Before we really get into it, we’re going to identify a few different kinds of paint stains, and the different properties of these paints. If we’re going to give you the magic potion to fix your paint problems, you need to know what the problem is first. Is it acrylic paint on jeans? Oil paint on silk? (Yikes! Hopefully not) There’s also the possibility of house paint on jeans, t-shirts, couches, etc. Check out the label on the paint in question, as well as washing instructions for the surface the paint has stained. Below, we’re going to lay out tips and tricks you can try from home. 


How to Remove Water-based Paints from Clothing

The first step is identifying the type of paint you’re dealing with. If it is latex paint, acrylic paint, or just craft paint, it is water-based. Thankfully, water-based paints are fairly easy to remove.

This is what removes paint from clothing:

  1. To remove latex paint from clothes, treat the stain quickly! Water-based paint is more difficult to remove as it dries, so taking immediate action will increase the success of the paint removal.
  2. If it is a large blob of paint, remove as much of the excess paint as you can, using a  non-absorbent, solid edged item. An old credit card, business card, or plastic spoon/knife would work. 
  3. Get water on the paint stain before it dries! Since it is water-based, the water will keep the paint activated. Once water-based paint dries on a surface, it will not reconstitute. This step is very important. 
  4. Next, you will want to take an old, softer toothbrush, or a rough dish sponge, with a teeny tiny dab of a mild dish soap and scrub the stain in circles. You want to be gentle so as to not spread or press the stain into the fabric more. 
  5. Finally, do not put your garment in the dryer! The heat will set the water-based paint into the fabric and will not come out with soap or water. 


How to Remove Oil-Based Paint from Clothing 

Next, let’s talk about oil-based paints. This can be traditional, artist-grade oil paints, but it can also be some house paints and primers. Always check the tube or can of paint to identify the base material. The way to get rid of paint stains on clothes when dealing with oil-based paints is slightly different than water-based paint stains, so make sure you follow each step carefully.

  1. Oil-based paint is naturally going to take much longer to dry, but should still be treated as soon as possible. 
  2. Same with water-based paints, you will want to remove as much excess paint as possible before moving on. Grab that old credit card, business card, or plastic knife/spoon! Be careful to not rub the paint into the fabric. 
  3. WARNING: if the clothing contains acetate, triacetate or rayon, do NOT use a solvent. Otherwise, if you are using an oil-based paint, you will (hopefully) have a paint solvent around. With oil-based paints, you cannot use water to clean the brushes or rollers. You will need a solvent such as mineral spirits or acetone to clean your painting materials. DO NOT put water on the paint stain at this point. Water and oil don’t mix, so it will not help remove the stain. Put a light amount of the (unused) paint thinner onto the stain, then dab (don't rub) the stain with paper towels.  
  4. I have personally found that spraying rubbing alcohol on the stain also works with removing oil paint from jeans, if you’ve caught it right away. 
  5. Once you have dabbed off as much paint as you can, soak the garment in lukewarm water with some laundry detergent mixed in there. The garment should be completely submerged. Let it soak for an hour or so.
  6. Put the garment through the wash according to the washing instructions depending on the type of fabric. Hopefully, this will help get rid of paint stains on clothes when dealing with oil-based paint!

How to Remove Dried Paint From Clothes 

When you try to remove dry paint from clothes you may have a more difficult time, as it has had time to sit and soak into the fibers. Because of this, you may not be able to remove all of the dried paint, but it’s still worth trying! I suggest using a dull or plastic knife or spoon and trying to scrape off as much as possible. This is the best solution for water-based paint stains. As for oil-based paint stains, you can try the scraping method, or you can soak the stained area in alcohol and try scraping and gently scrubbing the stained area. Once you’ve soaked the garment for a generous amount of time, try repeating the process and put your clothing item in the washing machine with detergent and stain remover.


How to Remove Paint From Everything Else

Yes! We did not forget; what about things that are NOT clothes? Of course, first, you want to try removing as much paint with a scraping tool. After that is done, here are some really helpful products/tools you can use to remove paint from fabric on your couch or carpet. 

  • Small hand scrubber
  • GOJO orange grease cleaner
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Alcohol (or other cleaning products that contain alcohol)

By now, you should be an expert on how to remove paint stains from clothes. To recap, you don’t need a degree in engineering or science to get your clothes back to (almost) new, free of paint stains! Get those simple cleaners and baby toothbrushes, and show us how it’s done. It’s time for a clothing resurrection! 

Now that you’ve learned how to clean all that paint off your clothes, it’s time to get back to painting. Check out our instructional art courses and learn techniques that will take your art to the next level. Click the link and start learning:


Milan Art Institute
Milan Art Institute

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