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How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

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How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

Finding a paint stain on your favorite item of clothing can be extremely frustrating and you might be tempted to simply toss the item out – convinced that it’s unsalvageable and beyond repair. Or trying to determine how to get paint out of clothes as easily and quickly as possible.

Undeniably, getting paint stains out of clothing can be tricky – but it’s definitely doable!  We’re here to tell you to hold on before giving up on your favorite t-shirt or sweater. The paint stains might not be quite as catastrophic as you have been led to believe

Here, we’re going to talk you through the various steps you should take to successfully remove any kind of paint stain from your clothing. There are a few things to consider before you get started, all of which we will cover below.

All of the methods listed in this article use only naturally derived products and ingredients, most of which can be found already in your home or at Amazon, or in your local grocery or hardware store. We believe in the power of natural cleaning agents, so there’s no need to employ the use of potentially harsh and toxic chemical ingredients when it comes to removing stains from your clothing in your laundry pile – even stains that are as stubborn as paint!

Related: How to Get Ink Stains Out of Clothes

How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

Always Check the Care Label

Before tackling any stain, the first thing you should do is check the garment’s care label. The care label will tell you exactly how to wash the item, and whether it can be done safely at home without causing any damage.

If your item’s label says ‘dry clean only’, you’ll need to take it to a dry cleaner to have it professionally cleaned. However, if the label tells you that the garment is hand or machine washable, you can confidently tackle the stain at home using the methods listed a little later in this article.

The care label will also tell you what fabric your garment is made from, which is important when it comes to stain removal and washing. If your item is made from a particularly delicate fabric such as silk or wool, you’ll need to take extra care not to damage the fibers while cleaning. Alternatively, you could use a dry cleaner to remove paint stains from these fabrics for extra peace of mind.

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Determine the Type of Paint

Once you’ve checked your care label and are familiar with the cleaning guidelines for the particular item of clothing, you’ll need to establish what type of paint you are working with.

The best way of doing this is simply by checking the paint can which will tell you what kind of paint you’re working with. This information is important when tackling your stain.  The most common types of paint are water-based, oil-based, latex, and acrylic, so these are the ones we are going to focus on here.

How to Get Paint Out of Clothes for Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paints are typically the most stubborn to remove, but it’s doable if you act quickly and follow these steps.

1. Remove Excess Paint

If the paint is still wet, immediately blot up as much excess liquid as possible. To do this, take a clean cloth, towel, or sponge and gently dab the affected area, taking care not to rub or spread the stain.

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Ensure that you go in with a clean area of the cloth or sponge each time to prevent you from pushing paint back into the fabric.

Continue to do this until the cloth or sponge comes up dry.

If the paint has been allowed to dry, you will need to try and scrape off the top layer of paint to allow any cleaning solutions to effectively penetrate and lift the stain.

To do this, we recommend taking a blunt tool such as a spoon or a butter knife and scraping the paint stain. The top layer should lift off pretty easily, uncovering a sticky layer underneath.

Scrape off as much paint as possible, taking care not to damage the fabric fibers.

Related: How to Get Old Grease Stains Out of Clothes

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2. Pre-Treat the Stain

Next, you should pre-treat the stain to give you the best chance of thoroughly removing it.

When tackling an oil-based paint stain, you will need to use a cleaning agent that is strong enough to break down and lift the paint. We recommend using rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide, depending on the fabric you are working with.

Hydrogen peroxide is great for tackling stubborn stains, but it can also naturally bleach fabrics, so should only be used on white or light-colored clothing. Rubbing alcohol can be used on most fabrics except for those that are particularly delicate such as wool and silk.

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Dilute the rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide with equal parts of cool water and then apply this mixture to the affected area, taking care not to over-saturate the item, but to cover the entire stain.

Allow this to sit for a couple of minutes and then take an old toothbrush or sponge and lightly work the solution into the stain. You should see some color lifting and the stain diminishing. If the stain appears especially tough, rinse the item with lukewarm water and repeat this step.

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3. Wash the Garment

After treating the stain, you should wash the whole garment by hand or in the washing machine, as is instructed on the care label.

To do this, you can use your choice of natural laundry detergent, or alternatively, you could make your own DIY detergent by mixing equal parts distilled water and white vinegar and adding your choice of essential oils for added freshness.

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If machine washing the item, follow the instructions and wash on the recommended setting at the correct temperature. If you are washing the garment by hand, fill a basin with warm water and place the item in the water. Add your choice of detergent and move the item around for several minutes. You can also take a clean cloth or sponge and lightly rub any remnants of the stain until it is fully removed.

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4. Rinse and Dry

If you have hand washed the item, rinse it off using lukewarm water, or remove it from the washing machine and allow it to dry according to the instructions on the care label.

Your oil-based paint stain should be all gone.

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Top Choice
Seventh Generation Laundry Detergent
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  • EPA safer choice certified
  • USDA certified bio based product 96% made with plant-based ingredients
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Excellent Value
Method Liquid Laundry Detergent
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How to Get Paint Out of Clothes for Water-Based, Acrylic, or Latex-Based Paint

Water-based, Latex, and Acrylic paints are less stubborn than oil-based paints and can generally be removed more easily and with more gentle ingredients, although the method is very similar.

1. Remove Excess Paint

Again, you should start out by removing as much excess paint as possible. Use the blot and dab method detailed above using a clean cloth, towel, or sponge for paint that is still wet and the scraping method for paint that has dried.

These kinds of paints tend to be less thick and hard than oil-based paints, so you should find that they scrape away from the fabric more easily, although latex paints can be pretty sticky when damp.

2. Pre-Treat the Stain

To pre-treat, the stain, start by wetting the area using warm water. Then, take some diluted liquid soap or natural laundry detergent and apply this to the affected area. Allow it to soak for around three to five minutes and then take a toothbrush or clean, damp cloth and work the solution into the stain.

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Repeat this process if necessary until the stain is noticeably diminished or completely removed.

If the stain seems particularly stubborn and you are working with a light-colored fabric, you could also go in with a little hydrogen peroxide which will easily cut through and lift the stain. As we mentioned earlier, however, this is likely to be too harsh for delicate fabrics and can cause bleaching with dark or colored clothing.

3. Wash the Garment

Hand or machine-wash the item, following the instructions detailed on the care label. Again, use your choice of natural detergent or liquid soap, or the DIY detergent that we recommended above.

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4. Rinse and Dry

Rinse the item or remove it from the washing machine and then allow it to dry. You should notice that the paint stain has been effectively removed.

Related: How to Remove Mold from Clothes Using Baking Soda (and Other Methods)

Final Thoughts on How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

Tackling paint stains on clothing can seem daunting and you might feel that it is a lost cause, but by following the methods listed above and these final tips provided below, you should be able to effectively remove the stain and salvage your clothing without the need for any synthetic or potentially toxic chemical ingredients.

Act as quickly as possible

The key to removing any stain, but especially ones that can be super stubborn like paint stains, is to act quickly while the paint is still wet. This gives you the best chance of thoroughly removing the stain. Paint that has been allowed to dry becomes much more difficult to cut through, particularly when working with absorbent fabrics such as denim or corduroy.

Always carry out a patch test

It is also super important that you carry out a patch test of any cleaning ingredients on an inconspicuous area of the fabric. We recommend doing this beneath the collar or on an inside hem. As we have said, hydrogen peroxide and rubbing alcohol may be natural ingredients but they are also pretty harsh and may damage some delicate fabrics, so a patch test is vital.

Don’t Panic!

Finally, try not to panic when tackling stains. It might be tempting to immediately scrub at the stain in an attempt to remove it, but you could actually end up spreading the paint and pushing it further into the fabric fibers. Instead, remain calm and use the methods listed in this article on how to get paint out of clothes to give you the best shot at removing the stain.

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