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How to Get Paint Out of Clothes: 5 Easy Methods

Don’t get bored watching paint stains dry. Tackle them ASAP. 

“Wear old clothes while painting” is age-old advice. But what if you’ve just un-hauled all your old clothes and have nothing to wear while you renovate your bedroom? There’s definitely a risk of getting paint on your clothes.

It’s important to be prepared, so we’ll teach you how to get paint out of clothes. So if or when this unfortunate mistake happens, there’s no need to stress.

Key Takeaways

  • Remove water-based paint by blotting with a detergent solution and laundering in cold water.
  • Oil-based paint stains require turpentine or paint thinner, but always test on an inconspicuous area first.
  • Tackle acrylic paint stains with a dish soap solution, or use alcohol-based products like nail polish remover if needed.
  • Delicate fabrics may require professional cleaning or extra care when attempting to remove paint stains.

What to Know About Removing Paint Stains From Clothes

There are different types of paint, and this influences the ways to get paint off clothing. Plus, different types of fabric will react differently to paint stains.

Types of Paint

The main types of paint are water-based, oil-based and acrylic.

Water-based paint, which is most popular for painting plaster or drywall, is easy to work with. It doesn’t smell as strongly and isn’t flammable. Plus, it’s fairly easy to get out of clothes.

Oil-based paint is used in high traffic areas, like skirting boards and trims, because it’s more durable. However, it has a strong smell. To clean it, you might need turpentine or paint thinner.

Acrylic paint is popular for craft projects such as painting pictures, painting onto a canvas or painting wood. If this is a hobby of yours, it’s important to know how to remove acrylic paint stains immediately. When acrylic paint dries, it can be difficult to remove.

Removing Paint From Different Fabrics

Removing paint from sensitive or delicate fabrics, such as wool, silk and velvet, should be done more carefully. In fact, it might be safer to take the garment to a professional.

However, if you are up to the task of removing the paint at home, follow this guidance:

  • Always spot test your cleaning solution in an inconspicuous area to make sure you don’t damage the fabric or ruin the color.
  • Use a solution that works with that kind of fabric. For example, use a wool-friendly detergent or cleaning solution when washing wool.
  • Always scrub, dab or blot the paint gently. Don’t scrub or rub too vigorously.
  • Try a dry spotter. Dry spotters absorb grease and oil stains, so they work well with oil-based stains while still being gentle on clothes.

In general, our methods work for most kinds of fabrics. But always follow the tips above when dealing with delicate clothes. For linen, cotton and synthetic clothes — it’s okay to skip these steps.

Bonus Tip

If a garment’s care label says dry cleaning only, make sure to use a dry cleaning solvent solution or take it to a dry cleaner’s.

How to Get Paint Out of Clothing

We’ll take you through the best ways to get different types of paint off clothing. So next time you do a craft or DIY project, you can tackle the stain quickly and effectively.

How to Get Water-Based Paint Out of Clothes

  1. With the back of a spoon, scrape off as much of the paint as possible.
  2. Turn the garment inside out and run warm water over the reverse side of the stain. This will push the color out the other side of the garment.
  3. Mix together one cup of cool water and a tablespoon or detergent or dish soap.
  4. Dip a cloth into the solution and blot the paint stain.
  5. Repeat this until you’ve removed the paint from the clothes.
  6. Launder the garment in cold water.
  7. If the stain remains, soak a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol or non-acetone based nail polish remover and blot the stain until it’s removed.
  8. Launder the garment in cold water.
  9. If the stain persists, take it to a professional.

Test First

Always check the rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover in an inconspicuous area of the garment.

How to Get Oil-Based Paint Out of Clothes

If you get an oil-based stain, the best thing to do is act quickly. You want to tackle this stain immediately so that it doesn’t set into your clothes.

We also recommend looking at the oil-based paint can and seeing what it recommends for removing laundry stains. It’s likely to be turpentine or a paint thinner.

  1. Go outside, as turpentine and paint thinner have strong smells and are best used in a well-ventilated area.
  2. Scrape off excess paint with the back of a spoon.
  3. Turn the garment inside out and put paper towels inside the garment, against the stain. This prevents the solution from bleeding through the garment onto the opposite side.
  4. Using a clean rag, dip it into your turpentine or paint thinner. Test in an inconspicuous spot of the garment to make sure it doesn’t damage or stain the fabric.
  5. Once you’ve assessed that it’s safe to use on this fabric, blot the paint stain with the solution and rag.
  6. Continue doing this until the stain is gone. If needed, switch between the front and back of the garment, working at the stained area as you go.
  7. Pour a little bit of rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover over the stained area and scrub gently with an old toothbrush to remove the stain residue.
  8. Wash the garment in cold water.
  9. Only dry if the stain is completely removed.


Don’t use turpentine or paint thinner if you’re dealing with a synthetic or delicate garment. It can run the dye or break down the garment. This is best on cotton garments.

How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes

It’s best to tackle acrylic paint stains as soon as possible. Like oil-based stains, they can be difficult to remove once they’re dried.

  1. Scrape off excess paint with the back of a spoon.
  2. Rinse the affected area with warm water.
  3. Mix together one part warm water and one part dish soap.
  4. Using a sponge, blot the stain. Repeat as necessary to remove the stain.
  5. If the stain persists, use an alcohol-based product such as nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol or hairspray. Pour it over the stain. Rub it in gently with a cloth until the stain lifts.
  6. If that still doesn’t work, you can use a brush cleaner, like the Winsor & Newton product. Simply pour it over the stain, let it sit for 10 minutes before scraping the paint stain off with the back of a spoon.
  7. Launder the garment in cold water.
  8. Only dry the garment if the stain is gone.

This method should work well on all fabrics if you use the dish soap or a non-toxic brush cleaner. However, we always recommend testing on an inconspicuous area first, especially if you use the alcohol-based product.

How to Get Spray Paint Out of Clothes

First, check if it’s a water- or oil-based spray paint. We’ll give tips for both, but use the correct method according to the type of spray paint you used.

  1. Using clothes or paper towels, blot up as much of the stain as possible.
  2. If it’s water-based paint, mix together one part dish soap and one part warm water. Use an old toothbrush or clean cloth to scrub the stain out.
  3. If it’s an oil-based stain, use turpentine, WD-40 or hairspray. Go outside and saturate the paint stain with your product. Let it sit for ten minutes before scraping off the stain with the back of a spoon.
  4. Once you’ve removed most or all of the stain, rub the affected area with a dry cloth. This will help to absorb the stain.
  5. Repeat the process as necessary.
  6. Wash and dry the garment if the stain is gone.

If the paint is already dried into the clothes, we recommend using nail polish remover. Saturate the stain and scrub with an old toothbrush or the back of a spoon.

No matter what product you use, always test in an inconspicuous area first.

How to Get Fabric Paint Out of Clothes

Before getting started on removing fabric paint, we want to tell you in advance: don’t use any heat! Once you use heat on fabric paint stains, it sets the stain. So no ironing, no hot water, and no drying the garment until the stain has been removed.

  1. If the paint is still wet, scrape off as much as possible with the back of a spoon.
  2. Wash the garment in cold water with detergent. This alone can remove the fabric paint.
  3. If the paint is dried, or washing the garment doesn’t work, lay the garment flat with a clean rag underneath the stain to absorb any liquid.
  4. Scrape off as much of the paint as possible.
  5. Apply a few drops of denatured alcohol to the stain. If it’s a bigger stain, soak a clean cloth in the alcohol and saturate the stain.
  6. Let the alcohol sit for a few minutes.
  7. Use a dry clean cloth and blot the stain, removing all the excess alcohol.
  8. Repeat as necessary to remove the stain.
  9. Wash with a mild detergent in a cold wash.
  10. Only dry the garment if the stain is gone.

Can You Remove Paint From Clothes With Baking Soda?

Baking soda is great for removing stains because it is absorbent. But paint sets into fibers so quickly that baking soda isn’t powerful enough to remove the paint from clothes.

You can try sprinkling baking soda over paint stains on denim, but our tips above are the best of the best for removing paint.

How Do You Get Paint Out of Clothes After It’s Dried?

If the paint is dried, then you need to adjust your methods a little. However, the above methods may work. If not, try this instead:

  1. Scrape off as much of the dried stain as possible with a butter knife or the back of a spoon.
  2. Spray the affected area with hairspray or saturate it with rubbing alcohol. The alcohol in both these products help to loosen the paint.
  3. Rub the saturated area with a butter knife to scrape the paint and lift it from the fabric. If the garment is delicate, use a toothbrush.
  4. Repeat until the stain lifts. When it’s gone or nearly gone, run the garment under warm water to push the remaining stain out. It’s okay to use hot water now as the stain was already dried. The heat can help to loosen and lift the stain.
  5. Launder the clothes as normal.

Always test in an inconspicuous area of the garment first. Keep in mind that it might be impossible to remove a dried stain — so be prepared to get rid of the garment. Or better yet, keep it for future painting projects!

How Do You Get Paint Thinner Out of Clothes?

It’s important to always test paint thinner in an inconspicuous area of the garment before removing stains in case it damages the clothing. But if you forgot, or you got paint thinner stains or odors while using the product, let’s look at how to remove them:

  1. Apply a small amount of dish soap or liquid laundry detergent to the stain. Rub in circular motions and cover the entire stain.
  2. Let it sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Rinse the spot well with hot water if the stain is gone. If it’s not gone, use cool water.
  4. Air-dry the garment.
  5. Repeat as necessary until the odor is gone.
  6. Launder the garment in the hottest water possible according to the garment care label. Add ½ cup of distilled white vinegar to the extra rinse cycle to remove the odor.


Does Vinegar Remove Paint From Clothing?

Vinegar removes paint from clothing because it is a mild acid that dissolves pigments, lifting them from fabric. Use water and vinegar and apply it liberally before dabbing the stain with a paper towel.

Can Hand Sanitizer Remove Stains?

Hand sanitizer does remove stains because it contains alcohol as an active ingredient. Alcohol dissolves paint pigments and other blemishes, enabling you to dab garments clean with a paper towel.

Will Essential Oils Remove Paint?

Essential oils will remove the paint because they contain oil, which is a core ingredient of many paints. The essential oils break up the pigments and lift it from the fibers.

Does Goo Gone Remove Paint From Clothes?

Goo Gone does remove paint from clothes, especially latex-based pigments. However, avoid using it on delicate fabrics like lace and wool, and never use it on leather or suede.

Does Salt Remove Paint?

Salt does remove the paint because it is corrosive, which means it reacts with pigments and dyes. Salt also increases the risk of rust on metal surfaces and vehicles.

Paint, Be Gone

With these tips and tricks, you can say goodbye to paint spills and stains! Your clothes will be looking as good as new.

Always remember to use the right method depending on your paint type. We have different instructions for water-based, oil-based and acrylic paint, as well as spray and fabric paint.

It’s important to tackle paint spills as soon as you notice them for the best results.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!