How To Get Acrylic Paint Out Of Clothes In 5 Smart Ways

Your clothes are in constant danger. Lily pollen, wax stains, oil stains, nail polish and foundation stains and also sweat smell and mould. And the nightmare keeps going! Whether you are a mom who is horrified to see her new dress as her child’s new canvas or an artist who faces accidental spills on your clothes quite frequently, we know it is a tough job to get rid of all these paint stains. Unfortunately, this problem is more common than you might think. We all have experienced a splatter or two of paint here and there on our clothes at one point in life, haven’t we? 

Kids with dirty clothes from painting the walls

When something spills on our clothes, our first instinct is to wash it off with plain water. However, with this paint, it could be somewhat of a blunder. Even though these paints are water-soluble, they can leave a permanent stain if the drying process starts. These type of paints have acrylic polymer solution as a solvent mixed with pigment, which can cling to the fabric once dried. If you are looking for reliable ways to get rid of acrylic paint stains from your clothes, then keep on reading! 

How to prepare your clothing piece

It is natural to panic if you have dropped paint on your clothes. However, staying calm can save them from a permanent stain. Here is how to prepare your clothes for taking off acrylic paint from them:

1. Scrape Off The Paint Quickly

As soon as the paint drops on your clothes, make sure to scrape it off with a paint knife or a butter knife. Take off as much paint as you can with a tool while it is still wet. There are quite a few ways to remove the stain, but it is bound to spread if you have excess paint on the surface. However, if it is still wet, you will be able to remove the top layer successfully. 

2. Dab The Excess Paint Off

Once the wet acrylic paint is off, dab the surface with a dry paper towel or cotton ball. This technique will ensure no paint is left on the surface that might leak later on. Of course, if the paint has already dried, then this tip might not work. But, if the paint is still wet, you can use gentle dabbing motions to remove the thin layer left on the surface. Move your towel on the area with more paint while blotting it as much as you can. Do not rub, or the colour will start spreading, which is what we need to avoid. 

3. Keep It Separated From Other Clothes 

As mentioned above, spreading the paint should be avoided at all costs. You might be tempted to throw your clothes in the washer, but it will only make things difficult for you. The paint will stain the rest of your clothes which is nothing less than a nightmare when trying to save that piece of clothing. Avoid soaking your t-shirt in plain water if the wet paint is still on. If you are wearing a fabric apron, then the paint might leak onto your clothes so, remove the apron if you spill a large amount of paint.

The first thing that might come to your mind could be getting your hands on a commercial stain remover to get rid of that mess. However, there are easier and cheaper ways to do this at home. Here are 5 easy ways to get rid of these stains from your clothes.

Method 1: Remove the paint using isopropyl alcohol

Since this paint is water-based, its density is more than isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol. When the isopropyl alcohol evaporates, it takes most of the colour along with it. When removing stains, saturate the affected area with alcohol and let it sit. You have to be generous with the amount you are using; otherwise, it won’t be able to evaporate the paint. 

You can easily get your hands on rubbing alcohol from any local pharmacy or supermarket. It will also weaken the bond so that you can scrape the surface with a hard material like a spoon, knife, or coin. Scraping the dehydrated paint layer off will be easier than trying to take off dried paint. This step will ensure that most of the pigment is removed from the fabric. You can then proceed to put in the washer with mild hot water to thoroughly get leftover traces of paint. Dry as recommended, and there you have it, a stain-free shirt! 

Method 2: Remove the paint using ammonia and vinegar

Another way to remove paint spills from your clothes is using ammonia and white vinegar. Ammonia solution is used to stabilise αcrylic substances by increasing their pH level. Household ammonia is easily available at any hardware store. When you mix ammonia with vinegar, it makes a great cleaning agent. 

Ammonia and white vinegar

  1. Soak your clothes into warm water till they are wet completely. 
  2. Mix 240ml of ammonia and 240ml of vinegar along with two tablespoons of salt. 
  3. Take your clothing item out of the water and wring out the excess water till it’s only damp. 
  4. Dip a sponge or an old toothbrush in the mixture and rub it on the stain. 
  5. Generously pour the solution on the stain and scrub it hard till the paint starts disappearing. 
  6. Once you are satisfied with the outcome, wash the cloth under warm running water. Repeat the process is necessary. Keep redoing till you get rid of the paint stain completely.

Method 3: Remove the paint using dish detergent

Dish detergent is something that we use to take off different kinds of stains. You can use dish soap for cleaning paint spills as well, as it repels polymer-based liquids. This technique can only be used on fabrics that are not delicate, like tulle, net, organza, or silk, as laundry detergent can be a bit harsh. Before using the soap, thoroughly clean the exact stained area under warm water. Using cold water will only harden the paint and make removal a lot more complicated. 

  1. Mix equal amounts of dishwashing liquid and warm water to create a cleaning solution. 
  2. With a sponge, start dabbing that soapy water on the stained spot and rub the top layer off. Even though vigorous rubbing will allow the paint to leave the surface quicker, it can also damage the fabric. You can also use your fingernails to remove the bits of dried acrylic paint for the dry cloth
  3. Once you are pleased with the results, you can put the clothing item in for a thorough wash

Method 4: Remove the paint using window cleaner or hairspray

Several everyday products are lying in your house that you can use to clean acrylic paint stains. Hairspray and window washer are a few of those items that can be used for this purpose. 

Female hands holds a hairspray

  1. First, use a good quality spray that does not leave any colour or residue behind, and spray it on a sponge. 
  2. Next, dab the hairspray on the stain and let the sponge soak in the colour. You can also use window cleaner instead of spray to clean the stain. 
  3. When the stain is removed, wipe the product off with a clean cloth and wash your clothing item as recommended on the label. 

It is one of the easiest ways to remove acrylic paint stains at home. However, hairspray and window cleaner can weaken the fabric; therefore, it is recommended to wash the product off your clothes imminently after removing the stain.

Method 5: Remove the paint using acetone

It’s commonly recognised as nail polish remover and is widely used for removing acrylic paints on different surfaces. It can also be used for removing paint stains from fabric, but it comes with a price. The chemical can destroy synthetic fibres and can alter the dye of natural materials. If you have spilt paint on a white, natural fabric, then using acetone or nail varnish remover is a great idea. 

  1. Try the product on an inconspicuous area of the cloth to check for any reactions. 
  2. Just soak a cotton ball in it and remove the colour from the surface. It might take more than one tries, but, in the end, you will get rid of the stubborn stain
  3. Once the stain is gone, throw it in a washer to get rid of any residues. 

Most people like to use alcohol-free paint thinner for this purpose, but it can also weaken the fabric of your clothes. For smooth and hard surfaces like glass, plastic, or flooring, paint thinner or acetone is the best option to go for.

Remember, washing your clothes in the washing machine after using any product or technique is the key. Do not leave any solution or cleaning product on your clothes for too long as it might damage the fabric permanently. 

Hands dirty with purple paint on the grey shirt


Removing acrylic paint from clothes is not an impossible job. Fortunately, with quick actions and the right products, you can easily save your favourite clothes from getting any permanent stains. Always do a spot test on the affected clothing item to check if the fabric is suitable for the product you will use. We hope this article helps you save your clothes, upholstery or bed linen from falling victim to any artistic accidents.

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