Skip to main content

How to get paint out of clothes and save your wardrobe

When the dust settles on your painting project and you’re admiring the finished result, you may not even notice the drips or smears of paint on your clothes. Once the paint dries on your clothes, however, your typical laundry process may not be enough to get those paint splashes out. Don’t toss the garment out yet, though. We’ll walk you through how to get dried paint out of clothes based on the type of paint used.

How to get paint out of clothes: Water-based paints

Water-based paints are some of the most common paints used in both arts and crafts as well as interior surface painting. The good news is it’s also the type of paint that’s easiest to get out of fabrics without staining. Here’s how you do it.

Related Videos

How to get watercolor paint out of your clothes

Crafting is a great pastime, but it’s also a messy one. If you get some of those watercolors on clothing, here’s how to get it out.

  1. Turn the garment inside out and try to flush as much paint out of the material as possible from the back.
  2. Turn the garment back to right side out.
  3. Mix a solution of one cup water and one tablespoon dish soap.
  4. Dip a clean rag in the solution and dab the paint stain on the garment.
  5. Wash the item in the laundry cycle as normal.

How to get acrylic and latex paint out of clothes

Both acrylic and latex paints are considered water-based, and they’re commonly used to paint walls, trim, doors, and ceilings. Painting large surfaces often results in splashes, sprays, and drips of paint that inevitably make it onto your clothes. These paints dry pretty fast, so it’s important to act quickly to avoid permanent stains. Here’s how to remove the paint spots.

  1. If the paint is still wet, flush it out of the material with water.
  2. Then, use a standard laundry stain remover to treat the stained area before washing the item in the laundry cycle as normal.
  3. If the paint has dried on the material, you can dab some nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol on the stain before laundering.
  4. If the stain persists after using alcohol, try spraying it with an alcohol-based hairspray, and leave it to sit on the stain for about 10 minutes.
  5. Use a toothbrush to scrub the hairspray into the stain, and then run the garment through the wash cycle again.
two people with paint on clothing
Roselyn Tirado/Unsplash

How to get oil paint out of clothes

Oil-based paint is extremely durable and long-lasting, which is why it’s used on wall trim and in high-impact areas like hallways and entryways. Its durability also makes it tough to get out of clothing. The best way to prevent stains from oil-based paint is to act fast while the paint is wet.

  1. If the paint is still wet, scrape off as much as you can.
  2. Use a clean cloth to blot the area.
  3. Rinse the spot with hot water from behind the fabric to flush out the wet paint. It’s important to keep the spot wet when you’re trying to remove oil-based paint.
  4. Mix together one part clear ammonia, one part water, and one part dish soap.
  5. Soak the paint spot with the mixture and allow it to sit for 30 minutes before washing in the regular laundry cycle.

If the paint hasn’t come out, or if it dried before you caught it, you’ll likely have to use a paint thinner or remover to get the spot out. Check the label of the paint can for the recommended paint-removing product from the manufacturer.

  1. Place the garment on a clean towel to prevent the paint remover from damaging any surfaces.
  2. Blot the paint remover onto the spot with a clean rag until it’s soaked with the product and the paint starts to separate.
  3. Mix one cup of water with one tablespoon of dish soap, and blot the mixture onto the spot.
  4. If there’s still discoloration on the spot, treat it with a laundry stain remover before tossing the garment into the regular wash cycle.

Tips to make removing paint from clothes easier

  • Try to catch the paint while it’s still wet. The longer the paint sits, the quicker it will dry and the heavier the stain will be.
  • Only use paint remover as a last resort. While the manufacturer’s recommended paint remover may be the only option for dried, stubborn paint stains, it could also damage fabric.
  • Always spot-check a cleaning agent first. Different clothing materials react differently to chemicals and cleaning agents. Check the clothing label before treating the paint stain, and always spot-check the ingredient you’re using on an inconspicuous area of the garment, like the inside of the sleeve cuff.

Painting can be a fun project, but getting paint on your clothes is never a joy. You don’t have to toss that paint-spattered garment, though. Use one of the paint-removing methods on our list, and restore that clothing item to your wardrobe, stain-free.

Editors' Recommendations

Should you power wash your house in the fall? Here are 5 things to wash at the end of the season
Power wash your house in the fall - you'll be happy with the results
Man spraying roof with power washer

The fall season is a prime time to check some of those pesky household chores off your to-do list. With the kids back in school, autumn is a time to wrap up all things summer and prepare for winter. This includes fall floor-to-ceiling cleaning, which is tedious but necessary work. Take solace knowing there's at least one quick task, and maybe even a little fun: power washing your home's exterior. With just five quick power washing projects, you can have your house sparkling clean and prepared to survive the winter.

With end-of-season projects in mind, check out the five most important power washing projects you should undertake to keep your home clean, protected, and ready for winter. You'll be surprised how satisfying power washing your house in the fall can be, and we promise you'll love the results.

Read more
9 ingenious storage tricks for small bedrooms with no closets for anyone running out of storage space
Storage ideas to free up space in your bedrooms with no closets
Woman storing folded clothes

Bedrooms are not just places to sleep, even though that's their main intention. Bedrooms also store clothes, shoes, and other personal items that you don't keep in other rooms of your home. But what if you have a small bedroom without a closet? Where should all the stuff go without having a cluttered and disorganized room?

A cluttered room can cause unnecessary stress and an overall sense of discomfort, which is the last feeling you want from where you're supposed to rest. If you have small bedrooms with no closets in your home, don’t worry. We have nine brilliant storage ideas that are also stylish so you can declutter and relax.

Read more
Moving out? Get your security deposit back quickly with these simple tips
These tips for renters will help you save money
Couple packing moving boxes together

Moving out of an apartment is already a hectic event. But when you’re trying to get your security deposit back from your landlord, that stress only grows. After all, that’s a large chunk of change you’re owed—and one that would be much better off in your savings account or going toward decking out your new place. Whether your landlord has been slow to return your deposit or you’re just anxious to get your money back, here are a few tips for renters to get your security deposit back in full without a fuss.

Review your lease
When you decide to move out, one of the first things you should do is re-read your lease. This document lays out all the terms and conditions for ending your lease, giving your landlord notice about your move, and getting your deposit back. Oftentimes, your lease will also let you know how many days your landlord has to return the security deposit (usually 30-60 days after move-out) and any other move-out requirements. You may be required to return your keys, clean the property, and revert any alterations you made to their original condition before your deposit is returned.
Give your landlord proper notice
Giving proper notice before moving out is crucial to getting your full security deposit back. If you don’t give enough notice, you may be required to pay an extra month’s rent—even if you’re not living there. Not only will you have to give your landlord more money, but you may also have to wait longer to get your deposit back.

Read more