How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

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Recently, we moved to a new place and, as any DIY enthusiast knows, a new home meant new projects! I’ve always loved the satisfaction that comes with transforming spaces with my own hands. I painted our first house’s walls, and now a new home meant new challenges. Luckily, my partner shares my passion for DIY projects, so we tackled everything together—painting walls, building shelves, you name it.

But, being deeply involved in these projects means dirty clothes 24/7. Sure, I’d just throw on my overalls and get to work, but occasionally, some of my really good clothes got caught in the crossfire. And let me tell you, paint is not easy to remove. After a few mishaps, I began searching for foolproof methods to rescue my wardrobe. Having tested numerous techniques, I’ve found several that actually work. So, if you, like me, find your clothes frequently stained with paint—whether acrylic, oil-based, or otherwise—here are the methods you’ll want to bookmark. Trust me, you’ll thank me later!

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What to Do If Your Clothes Get Stained by Paint

First off, always check the paint container for specific stain removal instructions. Manufacturers often provide the best immediate actions to take, which can be a lifesaver.

Is the Paint Wet or Dry?

Removing paint is significantly easier if it’s still wet. If you catch the stain while the paint is fresh, you’re in a much better position to get it out completely.

Identifying the Paint Type

The type of paint on your clothes will dictate your approach:

Water-based paints (like latex or acrylic) are easier to remove because they dissolve in water.

Oil-based paints require a bit more elbow grease and the right solvents.

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How to Get Latex or Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

Act quickly: As soon as you notice the paint, rinse the stained part with warm water. The sooner you can flush out the paint, the better.

Blot, don’t rub: Use a paper towel or clean cloth to gently blot the paint. Rubbing can spread the stain and make it worse.

Apply dish soap: Rub liquid dish soap into the stain and let it sit for a few minutes. It helps to break down the remaining paint.

Wash and rinse: Wash the garment as you normally would, but check the stain before drying. Drying will set the stain, making it much harder to remove later.

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How to Get Oil-Based Paint Out of Clothes

Spot treat with turpentine: Use turpentine or a similar solvent (make sure to test it on a discreet area first to check for any color damage). Apply it to a cloth and blot the stain.

Apply dish soap: Just like with water-based paints, dish soap can help. Work it into the stain vigorously.

Launder on a heavy-duty cycle: Use the hottest water the fabric can handle to wash the garment, and add a stain remover if you have one.

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How to Get Dried Paint Out of Clothes

Scrape off excess: Gently scrape away the dried paint with a knife or a brush to get as much off as possible.

Soak in warm water: Let the garment soak in warm water with some laundry detergent. This helps loosen the paint particles.

Treat with alcohol or acetone: Rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover containing acetone can be effective on stubborn paint. Dab it on with a cloth until the paint begins to lift.

Launder: After treating, wash the garment at the highest temperature safe for the fabric.

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Other Useful Supplies and Methods

Vinegar and rubbing alcohol: These can help soften and dissolve paint, especially if it’s water-based.

Hairspray or hand sanitizer: Both contain alcohol, which can help break down oil-based paints. Spray or apply, let sit, and then wash.

Paint thinner can be a very effective solution for removing oil-based paint stains from clothes. Since oil-based paints aren’t soluble in water, using something stronger like paint thinner helps break down the paint, making it easier to remove.

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Here’s how you can use paint thinner to tackle paint stains on clothes:

Test the fabric first: Before applying paint thinner, test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment to ensure it won’t damage or discolor the fabric.

Apply sparingly: Use a clean white cloth to apply paint thinner to the stain. Be sure to use it in a well-ventilated area as the fumes can be strong and potentially harmful.

Blot the stain: Press gently on the stain with the cloth soaked in paint thinner. Don’t rub, as this can spread the stain or damage the fabric. The paint should start to transfer onto the cloth.

Rinse thoroughly: After most of the paint has been removed, rinse the area thoroughly with warm water to remove any residual paint thinner, as it can be harsh on fabrics.

Launder separately: Wash the garment on its own on the hottest water setting that is safe for the material, using a good laundry detergent.

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Keep in mind that while paint thinner is effective, it’s also a strong chemical that can be harsh on fabrics and might weaken them over time if used frequently. It’s always a good idea to use the least aggressive method possible first before resorting to stronger solutions like paint thinner.


Always test any solvent or method on a small, hidden area of the garment first to ensure it doesn’t cause any damage or discoloration. And remember, patience is key! Some stains may require multiple treatments to completely remove, but it’s worth it to save your favorite clothes from being ruined.

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Through trial, error, and a bit of elbow grease, I’ve managed to save many clothes that I thought were destined for the rag bin. Whether you’re a seasoned painter or a weekend crafter, these tips should help keep your wardrobe paint-free and ready for your next project!