Nothing is worse than finishing up a crafty DIY project only to discover that your clothes are covered in paint. Instead of showing off your masterpiece to your family, you’re left wondering how to get the paint out of your clothes. While there are several effective cleaning methods to choose from, some definitely work better than others.
Oil-Based vs. Latex (Water-Based) Paint
When working with paint, you need to know the differences between the types of paint so you know how to get paint stains out of clothes. Oil-based paint is most commonly used in high-traffic areas since it holds up better. The smell of oil-based paint can be overpowering for some people, and the clean-up requires turpentine or paint thinner.
Latex or water-based paint is easier to work with and dries faster, but it’s not as durable as oil-based paint. Water-based paint is often used indoors on plaster and drywall. Unlike oil-based paint, which requires a solvent for cleaning, latex-based paint needs only water and a soapy solution. It also emits fewer odors and is non-flammable.
How to Get Latex Paint Out of Clothes
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You finally decided to paint over that awful pea-green wall in the kitchen, and now your clothes are covered in latex paint. Before you toss them in the wash, you might want to do some research about how to get water-based paint out of clothes.
“The best way to get the stains out is to blot the area with a clean rag and dish-soap solution,” using one tablespoon of dish soap to 10 ounces of water, says Meg Roberts, president of the home cleaning franchise Molly Maid. Liquid dish soap works great to get water-based paint out of clothes, as long as the clothing is color-safe.
If you catch the paint while it’s still wet, you need to act fast. When you are dealing with a clump of paint, start by scooping it off with a spoon or knife, depending on how much of it is on your clothes.
Flush the back side of the garment with lukewarm water (not hot). This helps get rid of any excess paint before you use soap. Next, blot the area with the dish-soap solution and rinse it with water. (Test this on a small area of the clothing before using it on the entire garment.) You may need to repeat this step several times. Finish by laundering the garments in cold water.
If the paint is dry, you need to know how to get dried latex paint out of clothes. Start by scraping off as much of the paint as you can, then go through the process of blotting with the dish-soap solution.
If water and dish soap don’t work, you can try using a small amount of rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball or toothbrush and work it into the stain. Blot with water and repeat before laundering.
How to Get Oil-Based Paint Out of Clothes
Figuring out how to get oil-based paint out of clothes is a bit trickier than water-based, but not impossible. “Generally, you should look to treat them the same as you would craft-based stains,” explains Thomas O’Rourke, owner of Decking Hero. The most important thing is to act fast, since oil-based stains are much easier to remove before the paint has dried.
You will need to use a solvent such as a paint thinner or turpentine on your clothing. The smell from these solvents is strong, so you may want to do your cleaning outside. O’Rourke recommends reading the label before you begin and testing a small amount on the inside of your clothing to make sure the solvent doesn’t melt the fabric or change the color.
Turn the garment inside out with the right side (the stain side) against some paper towels. Using a clean rag or cotton ball to dip in the solvent, blot the stain with it. Repeat as needed with a clean rag or cotton ball each time.
If you’re dealing with a stubborn stain, you may have to turn the garment back and work from the front to remove the stain. Before laundering, you can dab some laundry soap or stain remover directly on the area and rub it into the clothing.
How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Clothes
If you’re crafty, there’s a good chance you’ve stained a few shirts with acrylic paint, which is most often used when painting craft projects, such as canvas and wood.
Knowing how to get acrylic paint out of clothes when dry is essential, especially if you craft a lot. When acrylic paint dries on clothing, it forms a plastic layer that can be difficult to remove. The technique is similar to getting oil-based paint out of clothing.
Rinse the area with water. Dip a cotton ball in rubbing alcohol and rub the stain. You can also use a toothbrush to scrub the stain. Repeat this process until the stain has faded. Even though rubbing alcohol can help make the stain less noticeable, acrylic paint is stubborn and often permanent.
If the acrylic paint is still wet, you can treat the stain as you would a water-based paint. Try to get as much of the paint off as possible with a knife. Turn the garment inside out and flush it with warm water. Use a clean rag to dab the area with dish-soap solution. Rinse the stain with warm water and repeat process until the stain is out.
Once you complete the stain-removal process, you can launder the clothing.
How to Get Spray Paint Out of Clothes
If you work with spray paint on wood furniture or other surfaces, it’s a good idea to know how to get paint stains out of clothes. The good news is, you have two methods to try: hairspray or liquid laundry detergent.
When using hairspray, start by spraying it on the dry stain. Use a dry washcloth to rub the area. You may need to repeat this several times before washing the garment in the washing machine.
If you are using liquid laundry detergent, apply it to the stain and let it soak in. (Liquid dish soap can also be used.) Wait a few minutes and rinse with warm water. You may need to repeat this process several times before laundering the item as you normally would.
How to Get Fabric Paint Out of Clothes
Even though you’re using paint made specifically for fabric, you can still run into problems when trying to remove any excess. Since most fabric paint is water-based, you should follow the same instructions as you would for latex-based paint. That’s why knowing how to get water-based paint out of clothing can come in handy.