How to Remove Paint from Clothes

Find out how to remove paint from clothes with these tried and true methods.

There’s nothing like a fresh coat of paint (especially this one from Joanna Gaines) to brighten and update any room of your home. The problem is, no matter how careful you are, paint always seems to end up not only on the wall, but on your clothes, too. If you’ve had a paint accident, don’t throw it out just yet. Here are a few tips on how to remove paint from clothes.

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How Do You Remove Water-Based Paint from Clothing?

If you accidentally splattered paint on your shirt while painting your bedroom, chances are it was a water-based paint. Water-based paint includes indoor and outdoor latex paint, finger paints, acrylic craft paint and poster paint. Here’s how to remove it from your clothing:

  1. Scrape off any wet paint and then run the stain under warm water.
  2. Spot treat the stain with dish soap or laundry detergent, scrubbing with a soft brush. Then launder as you normally would.
  3. Repeat the process if the stain is not removed. If any paint remains after washing, don’t put it in the dryer—the heat will set the stain.

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How Do You Remove Oil-Based Paint from Clothing?

Oil-based paint is more difficult to remove, and may even be impossible, if it dries on your clothing. The one thing to remember with oil-based paint is to never use water when treating the stain. Follow this process to remove oil-based paint:

  1. Scrape away any wet paint with a dull knife.
  2. Moisten a clean rag with a little paint thinner, then blot the stain. Continue blotting with paint thinner until the stain is gone, moving to clean areas of the rag as you work.
  3. Once you’ve removed all the paint that you can, rinse the area and spot treat with dish soap or laundry detergent. Launder the clothing normally and repeat the spot treatment as needed.

Home Remedies to Remove Paint from Clothes

If the paint has already dried on your clothes, don’t panic! There are a couple of home remedies that may just do the trick. One option is rubbing alcohol. Scrape off as much dry paint as you can, and then saturate the stain with rubbing alcohol. Use an old toothbrush to work the alcohol into the fibers of the clothes and keep scrubbing until the paint is lifted. Voila! Then launder as usual in the washing machine. No rubbing alcohol on hand? Try hairspray, which contains alcohol, or nail polish remover.

One final note: When painting, it’s best to wear clothes that you no longer care about so that if you get paint on them, it’s no big deal. If you will be doing more painting, keep that one set of clothes as part of your painting gear.

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Erica Young
Erica is a cleaning and home décor expert. She knows exactly how to tidy a filthy kitchen and straighten out a mixed-up pantry! When she's not writing you'll find her organizing a closet, buying more bins she doesn't need or binging her latest TV show obsession.