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Whether you’re revamping the living room walls with a fresh new color or creating craft projects with your kids, there’s likely going to be a mess when paint is involved. A splatter here or there — or even paint everywhere — doesn’t mean you have to retire your favorite T-shirt or pair of work jeans.
Follow these tricks on how to get paint out of clothes and you’ll have that paint out in no time. All you need to know is which type of paint is the culprit and start cleaning using one of the appropriate methods below.
How to Remove Acrylic Paint
An errant drip from one of your paint brushes doesn’t have to be the end for your clothes. How to get acrylic paint out of clothes is pretty straightforward, as long as you catch it while the paint is still wet. The process of how to remove paint from clothing goes like this:
- Start by flushing the stained area with warm water, then gently sponge it with a mixture of one part dish soap and one part warm water.
- Repeat this process until the stain is gone, then rinse and launder as you normally would.
It is more difficult to remove a stain that has already dried. Follow these steps on how to get acrylic paint out of clothes if the paint has dried:
- First, use a fork or spoon or a soft scrub brush to carefully scrape the excess paint off of the fabric — just be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the fabric.
- Apply an alcohol-based cleaner like nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol, using a clean, dry cloth to break down the plastic surface; this might be a good instance to try spot testing first. Repeat the process above until the stain disappears. If it doesn’t, you may want to consult a dry-cleaning pro who'll know how to get acrylic paint out of clothes cleanly.
How to Remove Latex or Water-Based Paint
Just like acrylic, latex and water-based paints and water-based wood stain are super easy to remove so long as you catch them before they dry. These stains have a removal method that’s pretty much similar to acrylic:
- Flush the stain under warm running water, making sure to work from the back of the fabric.
- Using sponges, tamp the stain with a solution of dishwashing soap and warm water.
- Repeat the process until the stain is removed. If it persists, however, try blotting it with acetone. Just don’t forget to double-check the fabric label!
Like latex paint, water-based wood stain is best removed from clothing before it dries. You’ll need acetone to treat the stain first.
- Place the clothing on a layer of paper towels.
- Pour a small amount of acetone on the stain.
- Use a clean cloth to blot the acetone into the stain, then work it in starting at the outer edges and rub toward the middle until the stain disappears from the clothing.
- Wash with laundry soap and water.
Dried latex paint from clothes appears daunting, but the stains can be removed if you follow these steps on how to get dried paint out of clothes.
- Flip the clothing and dampen the back side of the stain with warm running water.
- Use a mix of detergent and warm water to saturate the stain and blot the stain with a cloth or paper towel. Rinse and repeat until the latex paint stain is gone or is no longer visible.
How to Remove Oil-Based Paint
Removing stains from oil-based interior paints can get a bit more complicated, but the process of how to remove paint from clothing is not impossible.
- For starters, if the stain is already dried, you can soften it up by treating the spot with the same product the paint’s manufacturer recommends for thinning the paint. Just make sure to check the paint thinner label and do a spot test, as certain synthetic or delicate fabrics could be susceptible to damage.
- If the stain is still wet, start by scraping off any excess paint, blotting up as much paint as possible with a clean white cloth and then rinsing the area (don’t let the fabric dry). Place the stained fabric face down on a stack of white paper towels or cleaning cloths and blot with turpentine, tamping the stain to help separate the paint.
- Keep repeating this process until no more paint can be removed. If any stain remains, treat it with liquid hand dishwashing soap and soak it overnight.
- If the stain is still there, you can try treating it with your choice of pre-wash stain removers before laundering.
Tips for Getting Paint Out of Clothes
A few things to keep in mind:
- The No. 1 key to keeping paint stains from becoming a permanent problem is to act fast. Know how to get dried paint out of clothes promptly. The longer you wait in getting paint out of clothes, the more likely the stain will stay put for good.
- If you’re removing paint stains from a delicate fabric (materials like silk are fragile and could get damaged), it’s a good idea to spot test the method in an inconspicuous area before you set to work.
- If you’re cleaning a fabric containing acetate or triacetate (they have a smooth, silky feel but aren’t very durable, so always check the fabric label), do not use anything containing acetone when getting paint out of clothes. It will melt (yes, melt) the fibers.
Paint residue doesn’t have to make a permanent mark on the clothing you wear for the job. The key to removing the spatters is to act quickly before it sets. Now that you know how to remove paint from clothing, download The Home Depot Mobile App to find the essential cleaning supplies you'll need to get the job done. Follow these tips on how to get paint out of clothes and you’ll be able to reuse the clothing for your next inspired painting project.