How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes (Without Damage)

how to get acrylic paint out of clothes

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Need to learn how to get acrylic paint out of clothes? Such tough, rubbery paint seems impossible to remove, but there are a few techniques that do the job without further damage.

The goal of removing acrylic paint means eliminating a stain without ripping out excess fabric or leaving behind bleach spots. There’s no need to panic – you can remove both wet and dry acrylic paint stains if you use the right materials.

Let’s not linger in the intro any longer! Read fast to salvage your clothes and return to your painting session worry-free.

acrylic paint

What You’ll Need to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Your Clothes

You may already have a few materials around the house that could be an acrylic paint stain remover. Below are the most common tools (with further recommendations later):

  • Water
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Dish soap
  • Paper towel or Q-tip
  • Used cloth or cotton ball
  • Detergent
  • Butter knife

How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes: Wet Edition

You’re on a time limit, so your first order of business is to figure out if your acrylic paint is still wet or not.

determine whether the stain is wet or dry

Step #1: Determine Whether the Stain is Wet or Dry

Acrylic paint stains react differently depending on how wet or dry they are. If it’s on the darker side or you can feel the moisture on your skin through the clothes, it should be wet enough to react to a water treatment.

pre-treat with water

Step #2: If the Stain is Still Wet, Pre-Treat With Water and Dish Soap

Diluting acrylic paint with water will do half the work of fading and washing it out. The most effective way to do this is not by spritzing it with water, but running water and dish soap through the other side of the stain.

This technique ensures the paint won’t spread through the rest of the shirt. The volume and weight of the water will push the paint out of the other end. You can use hot or cold water with this step, though hot water is preferable to keep an acrylic paint stain from drying too quickly.

You should see the acrylic paint stain start to fade after a minute. If not, give it another few minutes.

scrub immediately

Step #3: After a Water Treatment, Start Scrubbing Immediately

After some water, there’s nothing like good, old-fashioned scrubbing to get rid of even more paint. The leftover moisture will make sure the acrylic doesn’t start hardening into plastic-like bits.

Don’t use other clothes you like to scrub the stain in a fit of desperation. Look around for some thick paper towels or a used rag you don’t mind getting dirty. You can even use the clean corner of a painting apron since these materials are heavy-duty and usually have a little texture to break up your paint stain.

Toilet paper isn’t a good option for removing acrylic paint from clothes since it’s too thin and will just break apart. Your fingers will also be too smooth for rubbing stubborn stains.

apply a little isopropyl alcohol to break down the paint
(Image Source)

Step #4: Apply a Little Isopropyl Alcohol to Break Down the Paint

Now that the water and scrubbing has gotten most of the acrylic paint out, it’s time to finish the job with a chemical treatment. A common household disinfectant is isopropyl alcohol, so dig around in your cabinets and see if you have any rubbing alcohol left over.

Be careful not to get rubbing alcohol in your mouth, eyes, or nose. At best, it’ll burn terribly and at worst, you could poison yourself. Soak a cotton ball, a Q-tip, or the corner of a paper towel with the isopropyl alcohol and dab it onto the paint stain. You should start to see the acrylic paint stain fading even more.

Put rubbing alcohol on both sides of the stain if your clothes are on the thicker side to ensure it goes all the way through.

Step #5: Wrap Up With the Hottest Possible Wash

 

wrap up with the hottest possible wash
(Image Source)

The water and scrubbing flushed out some of the paint, while the chemical treatment broke it up further to keep it from drying. Now you need to toss your clothes into the washer and use the hottest possible wash setting to finish the job.

A hot wash provides two key benefits as a stain remover. The first is using heat to dissolve acrylic paint and keep it from hardening. The second is providing even more scrubbing and moisture to break up any bits that might have started drying during your efforts.

Don’t add any other dirty laundry to avoid the acrylic paint stain from potentially getting on your other clothes. It doesn’t hurt to be careful in case you need to do a second cycle.

Think you’re dealing with dried acrylic paint? The next section will teach you how to remove it.

How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes: Dry Edition

Wet acrylic paint stains are easier to remove, but there’s still hope if the stain is dry. You’re just going to need a little more elbow grease to break up dried acrylic paint.

Step #1: If the Stain is Dry, Use a Knife or Bristle Brushes

 

If the stain is dry, use a knife or bristle brushes
(Image Source)

To remove dried acrylic paint, you need something that can scrape off the paint without shredding the clothes. Look around your kitchen for a spare butter knife – the lightly jagged edge should break up the acrylic paint without being too harsh on the fabric.

Consider buying specialized bristle brushes to back you up in case you deal with dried acrylic paint in the future. The Loofah Sterilized Cradle Cap Brush, originally designed to massage a baby’s scalp, can also be used to remove acrylic paint stains. The bristles are stiff enough to work away dry paint but soft enough not to tear clothes.

If you notice any acrylic paint chipping off, you can also carefully pick it away with your fingers. It’s a time-consuming way to remove excess paint, but reliable since you can wiggle paint chips off of clothes’ delicate fibers.

Step #2: Apply Either Isopropyl Alcohol or Stain Remover

 

 use a q-tip to apply either Isopropyl alcohol or stain remover

Similar to a wet stain, a little chemical intervention will do the work to dissolve the hardened paint so you can start fading the stained area. Isopropyl alcohol is a good acrylic paint remover, but make sure to use a Q-tip, cotton ball, or used rag to apply it.

If you’re curious to see other chemical removers for dried stains, consider Carbona Stain Devils Number One. This powerhouse was originally designed to remove stubborn stains like grass and even gum, so it’s definitely up to the task of removing dried acrylic paint.

Step #3: Try an Advanced Wash Treatment

 

try an advanced wash treatment

If you’re not sure your acrylic paint will completely vanish, consider looking into advanced laundry detergent as a stain remover. These heavy-duty scrubbers combine several ingredients to tackle a variety of tough materials, including paint.

Alongside Carbona Stain Devils Number One, you can try Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent Ultra Stain Release. Not only is this liquid laundry detergent a better stain remover for acrylic paint stains than regular detergent, it can also work as a pretreatment for still-wet spots.

Step #4: Wrap Up With a Hot Wash to Finish Things Up

 

wrap up with a hot wash

Similar to wet acrylic paint stains, dried acrylic paint will come off more easily in the hottest possible wash cycle. Don’t feel like you have to neglect the unique fabrics of your clothes – if warm water is the best you can do, try that.

The warmer the water, the more easily a dried acrylic paint stain will melt off the fabric.

5 Ingredients to Avoid When Removing Acrylic Paint From Clothes

Removing acrylic paint stains effectively means knowing what to avoid. Be careful with the following ingredients next time you have a happy little accident at your easel.

Nail Polish Remover is Very Hit-Or-Miss

nail polish remover is very hit-or-miss

There are many conflicting ideas on using nail polish remover, but it’s a finicky tool you should steer clear from. While it’s strong enough to strip away wet and dried acrylic paint, it’s notorious for damaging delicate fabric.

Nail polish remover sometimes leaves behind an oily residue that can feel grimy once your clothes are ‘clean’ again. It may also leave bleach spots, which is just trading one stain for another.

Turpentine (or Any Paint Thinner) Should Be Kept Far Away

Think you can repurpose your turpentine as a way to remove acrylic paint? Think again: paint thinner is one of the worst ingredients you can use since it has a tendency to fade color from clothes.

Paint thinner is also extremely flammable, so you’d have to be extra careful when getting it on clothes.

Window Cleaner Won’t Do Much Good

 

window cleaner won’t do much good

It’s understandable to get thrifty when you suddenly drip paint onto your clothes, but picking random chemicals isn’t the answer. Window cleaners may be able to remove dirt and paint, but they’re far too harsh for your clothes.

Similar to the above two options, window cleaner will just bleach out your clothes and leave another mess.

Vinegar and Lemon are Natural Cleaners, But Not For Acrylic Paint

White vinegar and lemon are popular natural cleaners for countertops and rugs. Sadly, they’re a little too weak to help much with removing acrylic paint.

Lemon also has a tendency to bleach.

Ammonia-Based Cleaners Are Generally Ineffective

Lastly, ammonia-based cleaners are also not very effective for removing acrylic paint stains. It’s also a very irritating chemical that can lead to rashes or breathing problems if handled incorrectly.

Don’t Let a Stain Ruin Your Happy Painting Session

 

acrylic paint stains

Becoming a skilled artist also means effectively treating acrylic paint stains. When even your best efforts result in an acrylic paint stain, it helps to have some tools on standby so you can act quickly.

A cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol or specialized bristle brushes will usually do the trick to remove acrylic paint. If you’re fast, you may be able to remove the stain with hot water, dish soap, and a rubbing session.

Equip yourself with even more knowledge by taking acrylic painting classes for beginners on Skillshare.

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