How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes: Tips and Hacks

From isopropyl alcohol and baking soda to acetone, we discuss the most popular ways to get rid of acrylic paint and their effectiveness.
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Last updatedLast updated: August 16, 2021

You’ve spent a full day creating or crafting with your favorite medium, the masterpiece is done, but now you are wondering how to get acrylic paint out of your clothes. How successful your efforts will be might depend on the type of fabric you are trying to clean, as acrylic paint tends to merge with its threads. You think it would be easy to get water-based acrylic paint out of clothes but the sad fact is that acrylic dries fast and very hard leaving stubborn blotches with the consistency of dried egg yolk or plastic. This is because acrylic paint is an emulsion Trusted Source Acrylic paint - Wikipedia Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and plasticizers, silicon oils, defoamers, stabilizers, or metal soaps. Most acrylic paints are water-based, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted with water, or modified with acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor, a gouache, or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media. en.wikipedia.org of chemicals, including silicon, oils, stabilizers and defoamers that meld with the fabric. Your two main options are to dissolve the paint with some kind of solvent or to scrape or peel the paint away. Sometimes you cant get this acrylic paint out of clothes even after machine washing, so here are some tips for dealing with the problem or avoiding it entirely in the first place.

Don’t Let the Paint Dry and Act Quickly

How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes: Tips and Hacks

Perhaps the best thing to do before you start to work with acrylic paints is to wear some kind of painter’s shirt or overall and that way you don’t have to keep your eye on every little paint spatter that falls from your brush. However, if you do spill acrylic paint on your clothes your key is to act as fast as possible. It is key remove acrylic paint while it is still wet as you just might be able to wipe it all away with just a damp cloth or even a bit of tissue.

Still, it is a probably a good idea to be prepared in case of an accident and keep a little scrub brush with soft dense fibers, as well as a bottle of all liquid laundry detergent stain lifter in your workspace area. However, if the paint is wet, it is best to dab at it first, to remove any globs of acrylic before scrubbing it with a brush.

Be sure to get a detergent with a powerful stain lifter, and the brush should have a long handle so you can dig into the hard acrylic.

Most Effective Ways to Remove Wet Acrylic Paint from Clothes

The two most effective ways to remove wet and dry acrylic paint from your clothes are in your medicine cabinet and laundry room cupboards: simple Isopropyl alcohol or a laundry detergent with powerful stain removers.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol is commonly known as rubbing alcohol. It is ideal for removing both wet acrylic paint from almost any type of fabric from tulle to cotton to velvet. Remember to work quickly as the rubbing alcohol will work best if the acrylic paint is still wet.

The key is to scrape at that stain with a clean palette or knife, making sure you are not pushing more paint into the fabric’s fibers. Then saturate the area with isopropyl alcohol and scrape it hard until all of the acrylic paint. Rub the fabric and then rinse it, making sure all of the gooey paint is gone.

If you somehow got the acrylic paint in your zipper, then swabbing the metal with isopropyl alcohol can help clean the gooey acrylic mess from the zipper’s teeth

Laundry Detergent

Scrape away any wet or clotting paint from the material and use warm water to dilute the paint as much as possible. Rinse the fabric with cold water and then saturate the area with stain-removing laundry detergent. Rub the fabric with a soft thick bristled brush until all of the acrylic paint is out of the fabric. Rinse the clothing item with cold water and let it air dry.

Baking Soda

The video below shows how you can remove even dried acrylic paint from clothes using baking soda.

Less Effective or Ineffective Methods

Sometimes you just don’t have Isopropyl alcohol or laundry detergent on hand and have to scrounge around your house or office to find something that might help you remove the stain.  Here are some suggestions to help you out.

Vinegar and Ammonia

Scrape away as much of the paint as you can and then dampen the clothing in cold water. Mix a solution of one part white vinegar to one part ammonia with a pinch of salt and work it into the acrylic-laden spot. Keep rinsing the area after each hard scrubbing until all of the acrylic paint is out of the fabric.

Window Cleaner or Hairspray

Wondering what might work best to remove dry acrylic paint on clothing?  Window cleaner or hairspray might do the trick because they can loosen and dry the solidified acrylic paint. Loosen as much of the paint as possible with your fingernails and then dampen a cloth with hairspray or window cleaner. It is not a good idea to spray the window cleaner or hairspray directly on the fabric as it could discolor or fade it. After you have removed all of the acrylic, wash the item of clothing as soon as possible to remove any remaining hairspray or acetone.

Dish Wash Liquid

How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes: Tips and Hacks

Dish detergent is the one cleaning solution that most people tend to have on hand.  Turn the affected piece of clothing inside out and try to rub away as much of the paint as you can.  Then, mix one-part dishwashing liquid to one part warm water and then use a sponge to dab at the stain. Keep scraping, picking, and dabbing at the acrylic paint stain until it is gone.

Acetone

Acetone, commonly found in nail polish remover is not the most ideal solution to use to get wet or dry acrylic out of your clothing because it is a solvent. Not only does it have the potential to dissolve the blobs of acrylic on your fabric, but it can also dissolve the fabric fibers so be quite careful when dabbing the acetone on the acrylic spill.

To prevent damage to your clothing, it is probably best to prep the area that you are applying the acetone by rinsing it with cold water and doing a bit of a pre-scrub with soap and water. Then dampen a cloth with a bit of acetone and dab it on the spot gently, checking to see if you can loosen any acrylic paint with your fingers.

Do not rub the fabric too hard, as this action could cause your fabric to discolor. Keep repeating this process until all of the paint has been removed.

Is It Possible to Get Dry Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes?

Sometimes you can manually remove dry acrylic paint from your clothing by gouging the fabric with your fingernails and literally shredding it away. If you are lucky, you might be able to peel the dried acrylic paint out of the fibers all in one place, the same way you would remove a sticker or a piece of gum.

After you have removed as much acrylic paint as possible from the clothing, rinse it until the water runs clear and the stain is gone.

What to Do If You Can’t Get Rid of the Paint?

There are several things you can do if you can’t get the dried acrylic paint out of clothes. You can always scrape at it if it is hard and dry and then sew an applique over the stain.   An applique is simply a piece of fabric that is sewn over another fabric and it can be a patch that matches the original fabric or a patch with a design or it or a decorative patch embellished with beads, sequins and pearls.

There are many types of appliques Trusted Source Types of Applique: How to Choose the Right Style for You Discover types of applique and how to choose the style which is best for your project. Explore fun and experimental techniques as well as the classics. au.contrado.com . Appliques can be applied using a sewing machine or you can hand stitch the applique on to create a unique look. There are also fused appliques, which are basically iron-on adhesive based patches. You can also double stitch over a fused patch to give it more of a patchwork look.

Another tactic is to disguise it by coloring over it with fabric markers. If the paint that is dried is flat enough on the surface of the fabric, you might be able to match it and completely flatten the acrylic paint beneath it with heat.

Final Thoughts

The key to removing acrylic paint from clothing is always going to be to work fast, and then scrape away as much excess paint as possible while it is wet. Immediately apply Isopropyl alcohol or scrub it gently with a powerful stain removing detergent and a brush. If the paint is dry always try to peel it off the surface of the fabric before applying solvents as that might damage fabric fibers. Patience is also a virtue when it comes to acrylic paint removal as is being gentle. Now that you know how to get acrylic paint out of clothes or at least conceal the damage done with appliques and markers, you can go head with your dry and wet acrylic paint projects no matter what you are wearing – and even by accident, turn your work clothes into fashionable patched and distressed items.

References

1.
Acrylic paint - Wikipedia
Acrylic paint is a fast-drying paint made of pigment suspended in acrylic polymer emulsion and plasticizers, silicon oils, defoamers, stabilizers, or metal soaps. Most acrylic paints are water-based, but become water-resistant when dry. Depending on how much the paint is diluted with water, or modified with acrylic gels, mediums, or pastes, the finished acrylic painting can resemble a watercolor, a gouache, or an oil painting, or have its own unique characteristics not attainable with other media.
2.
Types of Applique: How to Choose the Right Style for You
Discover types of applique and how to choose the style which is best for your project. Explore fun and experimental techniques as well as the classics.
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