Can I Wash Acrylic Paint Out Of Clothes? A Complete Guide To Removing Acrylic From Fabric!

Acrylic paints are great tools for creating artworks that last longer than most other paints. They have excellent drying properties, and they can be mixed with other paints to create special effects.

But there are certain things that you should know about using acrylic paints, especially when you are using them regularly.

You may think that because acrylic looks so watery, it will wash off your clothes easily. But this is not the case.

If you are not quick enough, it can leave behind stubborn stains on your clothing.

We take a look at how to get rid of acrylic paint stains the proper way.

Can I Wash Acrylic Paint Out Of Clothes A Complete Guide To Removing Acrylic From Fabric!

Acrylic Paint And Fabrics

Acrylic paints are made up of two parts: pigment particles suspended in an organic solvent called acrylic medium.

Pigment particles can be any type of colored material such as iron oxide, titanium dioxide, carbon black or cadmium yellow.

The acrylic medium keeps the pigment particles dispersed in solution, which allows them to mix easily with each other.

For example, white acrylic paint is a mixture of titanium dioxide and acrylic medium that gives it its brilliant whiteness.

The first kind of acrylic paint was invented in the 1940s. However, it took another twenty years for this type of paint to be available to artists and hobby painters around the world.

Thanks to its unique properties, it can be immensely versatile. You can easily mix acrylics with other paints, and then they may look like oil or watercolor paints.

Another big benefit of acrylic paint for artists is that you can apply it to almost any surface. From fabrics to wood, ceramics, and canvas, this paint sticks well.

This flexibility is what makes it such a popular paint choice for most artists.

In addition, acrylic paint is relatively cheap, which also makes it an ideal choice for any arts and crafts projects where you need lots of paint.

Although staining isn’t always intended, acrylic paint does stain clothes very well, so it can be used as a substitute for fabric paint to dye and paint t-shirts or other fabrics.

Compared to the standard fabric paint which can only be applied on natural fabrics such as cotton, acrylic paint works on all kinds of fabrics.

Are Acrylic Paint Stains Permanent?

Although acrylic paint is often used by painters and hobby artists to achieve full-color saturation, wet acrylic paint does not stain permanently when you remove it quickly enough from your clothes.

 When you apply acrylic paint with a brush or palette knife, it’s easy to have some run-off onto your clothing. But once it starts drying, it will be hard to get all of it out of your clothes.

In particular when you wash and dry clothes that have stains of acrylic paint, you won’t be able to remove the paint anymore.

Heat is one of the main ways to make acrylic paint permanent on surfaces. Whether this is ceramic, canvas, or fabric, the application of heat to surfaces painted with acrylic will cause the paint to set into the surface.

When acrylic paint dries, it’s water-resistant and won’t wash out of clothes or other fabrics.

However, the good news is that it isn’t waterproof (unless you apply a special sealant), so there are ways to remove acrylic paint from clothing. We will take a look at this further down.

Can You Wash Acrylic Paint Off Your Clothes?

With the right care and treatment, wet acrylic paint can be removed from clothes fairly easily.

Fresh wet acrylic paint is still water-soluble, so rinsing a stain in your clothes with cold water is usually the first point of call.

Instead of cold water, you may also apply some hairspray to the stain. This will help to lift the stain out of the fabric.

The paint must still be wet. Once acrylic paint dries, it becomes much more difficult to remove.

Acrylic paint dries reasonably quickly, and it does not just leave color patches on the fabric. Acrylic paint dries to a hard, plastic stain that stiffens the fabric.

This will damage the fibers in your fabric and your clothes won’t feel as comfortable to wear anymore.

Only fresh, wet acrylic paint can be removed from clothes. If the paint had a chance to dry even for just a few minutes, you won’t be able to remove it anymore with cold water or with a normal washing cycle.

You will need to treat the stain specifically to get it out of the fabric again. Additionally, any garments with acrylic paint stains should never be placed in the dryer because that’s going to make the stain permanent.

The first thing to do when you notice that you have acrylic paint on your clothes is to gently blot the stain to check if it is still wet.

If the stain is still wet, then take a wet cloth and blot the paint away as best as possible.

If the paint stain has already dried, then try to scrape off as much of the paint as you can, and then apply isopropyl alcohol.

This will help to dissolve the dried paint stain. Put some of the alcohol onto the stain, let it soak for a few minutes, and then blot it away with a cloth.

The stain should come out quickly but you may need to apply some more of the alcohol if it isn’t fully gone.

How To Remove Acrylic Paint Out Of Your Clothes

While acrylic paint does stain fabric relatively quickly when it starts to dry, there are methods that you can use to remove these unwanted paint stains from your clothes.

We put together some top tips on how to get acrylic paint stains out of your clothes. You will get the best results with any paint removal methods when the paint is still fresh or slightly damp.

However, the below stain treatments also work if you didn’t iron or dry the stained fabric before.

Before Treating An Acrylic Paint Stain

Check For Stains

Before you start trying to remove the paint, you’ll want to find out where the paint is located on your clothing.

It’s a good idea to make this a routine each time after you handle acrylic paint. Check your clothes carefully for any stains.

We always recommend wearing a different color to the acrylic paint colors you handle. Then you can see the stains much easier.

The reason why catching the stains is important is because fresh acrylic paint stains are much easier to remove.

Although the following stain removal methods will help to remove most of the stain, once acrylic paint has dried, it can leave permanent marks in the fabric that sit deep in its fibers.

Pre-Treatment

When you opt to pretreat your paint-stained clothes before applying our methods, you have a better chance of fully removing the stain.

The best time to catch the worst of it is before the stain hardens and dries. You can then quickly remove it by blotting a damp cloth onto the stain.

Then use a toothbrush or a stiff painting brush to remove the smaller particles.

Saying this, it’s not impossible to get rid of an old paint stain. As the acrylic paint will have hardened on your fabric’s surface, you should first try to remove most of the plastic paint using a blunt knife or a spoon.

Can I Wash Acrylic Paint Out Of Clothes A Complete Guide To Removing Acrylic From Fabric!

Methods To Remove Acrylic Paint From Clothes

Here are some of our top tips on how to get rid of acrylic paint on fabrics. You mustn’t wear your stained clothes.

Some of the below methods will use chemicals that can cause skin irritations. This means, for everyone with sensitive skin, you may also want to wear gloves when applying chemicals to the stain.

Hairspray

You could try hairspray to remove the paint from your clothes. Hairspray contains a range of hydrocarbons and alcohol that remove the paint from the fabric fibers.

However, it’s best to test a little area first to ensure the chemicals in the hairspray won’t damage the fabric of your clothes.

Some fabrics are more sensitive than others when it comes to chemicals, so just try it out on a small area that you usually can’t see.

If that’s fine, then place the stain with your fabric over a bowl or the sink, and then spray the hairspray onto the stain until the fabric is soaked.

The hairspray should make the pain soft so that you can peel it off. When you start peeling, it’s important to do it slowly to take as much of the paint away as possible.

Next, simply rinse out your fabric in warm water and check for any remaining paint spots. These might be easily removed with a stiff, dry paintbrush.

If the hairspray hasn’t removed all the paint for the first time, then you can just repeat this method.

Once you are done, just pop your clothes into the washing machine. A regular washing cycle is fine as this is just to remove the hairspray.

Washing Up Liquid And Dish Soap

This method is mainly to get fresh acrylic paint from clothes. This works great if you just spilled acrylic paint and you want to remove it as quickly as possible.

Just pour a good amount of washing-up liquid and dish detergent into a bucket. Then add your stained clothes and soak them for a minute.

Next, take your clothes out of the bucket and wring them out. This is to remove any excess water.

Then, blot the paint stain with a slightly wet cloth. You must avoid rubbing the paint as this could lead to spreading the paint further and deeper into the fabric.

Once you are done, you just rinse out the stain and check that you haven’t missed any excess paint.

Acetone Or Nail Varnish Remover

This is an old trick used over many generations. Nail polish remover with acetone can remove almost any paint.

As acetone is a strong chemical, it may be best to wear gloves when removing the stain with this method.

Similar to the hairspray method, it’s a good idea to first test a little area to ensure the fabric isn’t damaged by the acetone. Some fabrics, such as spandex, don’t react well to acetone.

Then, start to apply the nail polish remover to the stain using a clean sponge or cloth. You needn’t worry about getting too much of the remover on the fabric because it will evaporate very quickly.

Firmly press the cloth with the nail varnish remover onto the stain for around 5 minutes. Then slowly remove it to see if the acrylic paint has softened slightly.

You now need to use a blunt knife or spoon to scrape the dry acrylic paint away. If there is still some paint left, then repeat the process.

Then rinse the stain in cold water to remove the rest of the acetone. Check you managed to get all the paint off your clothes, and then wash the fabric in the usual way.

It’s important to work fast before the acetone starts to dry or evaporate. As most of us have nail polish remover standing around, this is a cheap and easy solution.

Isopropyl Alcohol

Another alternative to nail polish remover is isopropyl alcohol. As this is a kind of rubbing alcohol, this is a common household product that is often found in cleaning products.

If you can only find rubbing alcohol, then that works as well but the results aren’t as good as with isopropyl alcohol.

Isopropyl alcohol is the best acrylic stain remover in our eyes because it works well on dry and wet stains.

To use this method, you hold the stain over a bucket or the sink and apply the isopropyl alcohol straight onto the paint stain.

Let the isopropyl alcohol soak in for a few minutes, use a blunt butter knife or spoon to remove the dried paint.

Check for any remaining paint spots, and then wash your clothes as normal.

Lacquer Thinner

A lacquer thinner is another great option for removing acrylic paint from clothing.

It’s slightly more aggressive than paint thinner, so it’s important that you carefully test this on an area of your fabric first.

Lacquer thinner is so caustic that it removes almost any paint from any surface, so make sure you follow the instructions carefully.

Start by pouring a small amount of lacquer thinner into a bowl. This should be enough to cover the entire stain.

Use a clean brush to spread the lacquer thinner evenly across the stained area. Then allow the lacquer thinner to sit for 10-15 minutes until the paint begins to soften.

Now gently rub the lacquer thinner into the paint, making sure not to scrub the fabric.

Once the paint is removed, check for any remaining paint spots and then wash the fabric as normal.

Glass Cleaner

It may not be so obvious immediately but glass cleaners contain many strong chemicals that can remove a range of tough stains.

The main ingredient in glass cleaner is usually ammonia, which is a highly effective solvent. It also contains other ingredients such as sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) and potassium hydroxide (potash).

These are both alkaline compounds that help break down dirt and grease. They’re also very powerful solvents that will dissolve even the toughest stains.

You can use glass cleaner for removing almost any paint stains from any surface. This makes it a household essential for everyone, especially useful for all artists.

To start removing the stain, spray the glass cleaner onto the stain until the fabric is soaked. Then take a cloth to dab the soaked fibers. 

Similar to the other paint removal methods, you mustn’t rub the stain, as this could cause the paint to spread on the surface.

Once all the paint is gone, just rinse your item in cold water. Always check if there are any of the paint flecks remaining. If they do, repeat the process.

Vinegar And Ammonia

Ammonia is one of the most versatile and cheapest home remedies for removing paint stains from fabric.

This cheap chemical has been used for generations to remove stubborn stains from wood furniture and walls.

Mixing vinegar with a little bit of ammonia will work wonders when trying to get rid of paint from clothing.

Although mixing these two chemicals will not produce any dangerous chemical reactions, it’s best to do this in a well-ventilated room with a window open.

First, put your stained clothes into a bucket with cold water. Allow this to soak for a while until the clothes are fully wet.

Put the vinegar and ammonia together in a spray bottle and shake vigorously until the mixture is thoroughly mixed.

Take your clothes out of the bucket, wring them out to remove the excess water, and then place them on a flat surface.

The surface must be protected (with a plastic bag or an old towel) as the chemicals will likely seep through the fabric.

Then soak a cloth or sponge in the solution and rub the stain firmly. Some people recommend adding salt to the solution, which would act as an abrasive.

However, salt can quickly damage more delicate fabrics. Only use salt in this vinegar and ammonia solution if the stained fabric is not delicate.

Once you have scrubbed all the paint away, you can wash your clothes as normal.

Oil Soap

A traditional household favorite with the older generation, oil soap is still used today as a general cleaner, particularly for wood surfaces.

It’s perfect for removing any wet paint stains. If you allow it to soak for long enough, oil soap can even remove any dried excess paint.

Simply mix the oil soap and soap in equal parts and allow the stain to soak in the solution for 12 hours. You will then just have to rinse out your clothes with warm running water.

If you want to remove the stain quicker, you need to wet the stained area first. Then soak a cloth in oil soap and blot the dry paint stain with it.

Lastly, rinse your stained clothes again and wash them as normal.

How To Remove Dried Acrylic Paint Out Of Your Clothes

The best way to remove dried acrylic paint from your clothes is with isopropyl alcohol, nail varnish removed with acetone or ammonia, and vinegar.

We found these three methods work best when it comes to removing tough dried acrylic paint stains. They cause the paint to crack and you can then easily peel it away.

For all these methods, you will need to use a blunt object to scrape the paint flecks from the fabric.

You mustn’t place clothing with paint stains into the washing machine or dryer as the heat of the washing and drying cycle will set the paint.

It’s easiest to spend a little bit of time removing the stain from your fabric.

Do Acrylic Paints Come Out Of Fabrics With Washing?

Yes, fresh and wet acrylic paints come out of fabric with washing. However, you may need to take extra care when doing so.

Acrylic paints contain binders such as polymers that keep them securely attached to the fabric they’ve been applied onto.

When you wash clothes, these binders become weaker and gradually dissolve. This means that the acrylic paint will start peeling off the fabric and fall out.

This is why you should always place paint-stained clothes into the washer on their own.

How To Prevent Acrylic Paint Stains

Although there are plenty of ways to remove acrylic paint stains from clothes, the best method for this issue is still prevention.

Here are a few ways we found useful to prevent acrylic paint stains on clothes and surfaces.

Don’t Wear New Clothes

Many brands of paint contain solvents and other substances that can react badly with synthetic fibers like nylon and polyester.

As a result, many brands of paint contain preservatives that help stop the paint from staining the fabric.

However, the harsh chemicals in most paints still stain clothes. So the easiest way to prevent any stains is to simply wear old clothes that you use when you are painting.

Protect Surfaces

Another effective way to protect yourself from acrylic paint stains is to cover up any surfaces where you plan to paint.

You could buy a large plastic sheet and lay it over the surface before applying the paint. The plastic sheet will protect the surface from getting marked by the brush or roller and also prevents paint splatter.

Keep An Old Towel Nearby

Accidents do happen, so if you have an old towel and some dish soap nearby to dab away the fresh paint, you can make sure that any paint flecks don’t cause stains.

How To Permanently Stain Clothes With Acrylic Paint

If you are looking for the opposite effect and you want to ensure acrylic paint stays on fabric permanently, you can mix the acrylic with textile paint.

This will ensure that your masterpiece applied to the fabric won’t crack. It will also make it look a lot more natural and less plasticky.

The blend of acrylic paint and textile medium will permanently stain the fabric and it won’t be possible to remove the paint anymore.

However, to be sure that your fabric artwork will survive frequent washing and drying cycles, it’s best to also apply heat to the paint first.

You can do this by using a hairdryer or ironing the fabric.

Frequently Asked Questions

Get your last-minute queries answered below!

Can You Wash Acrylic Paint Off Canvas?

No, while acrylic paint is water-soluble, the canvas is not. As a result, you can’t just wash acrylic paint off your canvas.

Does Hairspray Seal Acrylic Paint?

No, hairspray does not seal acrylic paint on any surface. The hairspray will cause the paint to become soft and melt.

This is the reason why you can use hairspray to remove acrylic paint from fabric and clothes.

What Do You Put On Acrylic Paint To Make It Waterproof?

Acrylic paint in itself isn’t waterproof. However, you can spray varnish onto the paint to give it a bit of extra protection.

But even then, the paint will still lose its shine after about 6 months.

To keep your acrylic paintings lasting longer, you can apply a clear coat of gloss enamel or shellac on top of the varnished acrylic.

Final Thoughts

Using acrylics to create artworks on canvas, wood or any other surfaces has seen a big rise in popularity in recent years.

Acrylic paint has many great benefits for artists. It’s only downside is that it does stain clothes permanently when you are not quick enough to remove them.

On the other hand, this may not always be a disadvantage. Acrylic paint is also often used as an alternative to textile paints.

Whatever you choose to do with your acrylics, we hope you enjoy this wonderfully versatile paint.

Amanda Brown

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