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How To Remove Paint Stains From Clothing

The good news is that you can remove almost any type of paint from your clothes, wet and dried, water-based and color-based, and dark in pigment. The key is to get to the paint well before it has had time to dry, but it is not too late if you let it dry. We have enough experience with paint to know the best methods for all types of paint removal.


Prevention & Protection

Obviously, the best way to keep your clothing paint-free is to not get any paint on your clothing. That is not always possible, but there are two golden rules to follow to make cleaning much more manageable.


The first is time.


The sooner you get to the paint stain, the easier it will be to clean off the paint. So, keep an eye on your clothing as you are painting, and clean off the paint as soon as you can before it dries in.


The second rule is to wear appropriate clothing. Paint stains in silk and wool are much harder to clean than those in denim or cotton. When you paint, use clothing that can take stains and that you don’t mind becoming stained. And cover clothing that you want to protect.


How To Clean Water-Based & Acrylic Paint Stains

Water-based paint is the easiest of all the paint types to clean. Follow out simple steps:

  1. Remove any excess paint by scraping it off with a knife or scraper.

  2. Run the stain under warm water.

  3. Apply a little soap to the stain and scrub with a soft brush.

  4. Launder the garment.

  5. Repeat the steps if there is still a stain.

  6. Wait until the stain is completely removed before drying the clothing item.

Water-based paint is the easiest to remove, and the key is to scrape off as much of the paint as you can first and then run it under warm water until no more pigment comes off.


How To Clean Latex Paint Stains

Latex paint can be removed from clothing relatively quickly if you have the right tools, so be sure to have acetone on hand before you start painting. You can also follow this method for the water-based wood stain.

  1. Scrape off as much paint as you can with a knife or scraper.

  2. Place the garment on some paper towels.

  3. Apply acetone to the stain.

  4. Use a clean rag to blot the stain.

  5. Rub in a circular pattern from the edge of the stain toward the middle.

  6. Repeat the steps until the stain is removed.

  7. Launder the clothing as usual.

Another easy method for removing paint stains. Just be sure to always have acetone in your tool kit.


How To Clean Oil-Based Paint Stains

Oil-based paint can be trickier to clean, so follow our steps carefully.

  1. Scrape off any excess paint with a knife or scraper.

  2. Pour some paint thinner onto a clean rag.

  3. Blot the stain with the rag.

  4. Work from the edges of the stain to the center until the stain is gone.

  5. Rinse the spot.

  6. Use dish soap to clean the spot.

  7. Launder the clothing as usual.

The key here is to have paint thinner on hand. This is a must if you are using oil-based paint, and will help not only with paint on your clothing but with any other oil-based paint spills.


How To Clean Dried-On Paint Stains

Sometimes, you are not quick enough to get to paint stains or you do not notice them until it is too late. Don’t worry, you can still remove paint stains after they have dried into clothing. The first step is to carefully scrape off as much dried paint as possible. You can use a painter’s knife or any other knife or blade that will not damage the clothing. Take your time to remove the surface layer of paint on both sides of the stain. Use rubbing alcohol to remove the remainder of the stain.


Wet a rag with some rubbing alcohol and blot the stain. For more stubborn stains, you can use a soft brush (a toothbrush works well). Rinse the clothing to remove as much rubbing alcohol as possible. If you still have a stain, you can refer to one of the methods above (as long as you know the type of paint). If not, continue to use more rubbing alcohol. When the stain is removed, launder the clothing as usual.


Top Tips For Removing Paint Stains From Fabric

The methods outlined above should cover you for all types of paint stains, but there are some things to keep in mind when dealing with any paint stain.

  • Time is of the essence: the quicker you get to the paint stain, the easier it will be to clean off.

  • If the fabric is delicate (like silk or velvet), spot-test first. Before applying chemicals to the stain, spot-test the chemical where the results will not be seen. The chemicals might end up doing more damage than the paint.

  • If your clothing contains acetate, it will become more damaged by acetone. Acetone might treat the stain, but it can melt some of the fibers in the material you are cleaning.

  • Use clothing that can be stained. The best tip is to wear clothes that you don’t mind stained or damaged. The easier way to clean a paint stain is to not clean it.

Paint stains might seem like a hassle, but they can be relatively simple to clean. The key is to act fast and have the right tools on hand. Depending on the type of paint you are using, always carry paint thinner, acetone, or rubbing alcohol in your toolbox. Prevention is always the best cure, so wear old and already worn/damaged clothing, and be careful not to drip paint on your clothing when you are painting.

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