how to get paint out of clothes

How to get paint out of Clothes and Other Things

Depending on how you spend your day or the places you pass by, it is possible end with paint on your clothes. It may be your favorite jeans, dress or shirt and so on. Whatsoever the case, the important thing is to get the paint out of your garment.

Different types of paint require different cleaning methods. Accordingly, the method you choose should depend on the type of paint stain.

Another factor to consider is the nature of your fabric. It is possible to destroy some fabrics with certain types of cleaning solutions or methods.

Type of Paint

different types of paints

 In general, paints are either water or oil-based. How you remove paint from your clothes primarily depends on this.  However, note that there are four major components that are inherent to all paints.

Pigment: Firstly, all paints contain pigment but in different concentrations. Its purpose is to add color to the paint. Therefore, it is the component that leaves color on your clothes after staining.

Binder: The second component is a binder. Its purpose is to provide adhesion and toughness once paint has dried. Essentially, it determines the level of paint resistance to scrubbing, peeling and other things that can lead to removal or damage.

 The advantage of a binder is that it only forms after the liquid element of a paint evaporates. Accordingly, it is possible to get paint out of garments and surfaces before the binder forms.

Liquid: Paints contain a liquid component that evaporates leaving behind the pigment and binder. Latex paints contain water whereas oil-based paints contain carriers such as lacquer thinner and denatured alcohol. The type of liquid determines how quickly paint stains dry on your garment or any other surface.

Addictives: These are components added to improve paint properties.

Type of Fabric

Different fabrics have unique reactions to different cleaning methods and cleaning solutions. Consequently, it is important to examine your fabric before applying a paint stain removal method.

Care label

The first approach for understanding your garment is looking at the care label. Versatile garments allow three cleaning methods. These include handwashing, machine-washing and dry-cleaning. However, there are some that are not washable and others that can only be washed in one method.

In respect to cleaning solutions, some fabrics are bleach-friendly whereas others are not.

In each given circumstance, avoid a method that is not applicable to a garment’s care instructions when removing stains.

Fiber content/chemical composition

The Iowa State University provides an overview of different fabrics and how their chemical compositions affects stain removal and cleaning process.

Synthetic fabrics: Examples include nylon, polyester, olefin, acrylic and their blends.

When these fibers are stained by paint, oil-based stains are the most difficult to remove. Therefore, it is important to clean the fabric before the paint dries up. In addition, ironing or putting a stained garment in the dryer should be avoided at all costs.

Heat reinforces the stain thereby making it more difficult to remove. Furthermore, it can also destroy the fabrics by creating permanent wrinkles and causing shrinkage.

Cellulose fabrics: Examples include cotton, rayon, linen and lyocell.

The fabrics get stained easily and also weaken with repeated exposure to bleaching agents. However, they can be bleached with color friendly agents once in a while for stain removal.

The effort required to remove stains may vary with the type of stain and the overall composition of the garment.

Delicate fabrics: Examples include silk, cashmere and wool.

Most of these cannot be subjected to harsh cleaning agents such as bleach after staining. It is important to handle them with ultimate care and as soon as the stain gets on them.

Vinyl and olefins: Vinyl becomes stiffened by oil solvents whereas olefins are easily damaged by perchloroethylene solvent.

Types of Paint Stains

  • Latex paint
  • Acrylic paint
  • Water-borne paints
  • Oil-based paint
  • Spray paint
  • Vanish
  • Aluminum paint
  •  Enamel
  • Novelty paint

How to Get Latex Paint out of Clothes

Latex paint is easy to remove because it is water-based. Furthermore, there are several methods that you can apply successfully. On the other hand, it is important to act swiftly because it dries fast.

Method 1: Plain Water

  • Use water, a soft brush and a cloth or sponge to remove wet paint.
  • Simply begin by lifting off excess paint with the brush. Avoid scrubbing forcefully to prevent the stain from spreading.
  • Dab the stain with a sponge or cloth to clean out as much paint as possible.
  • Wet the stained area with running tap water and rub the garment against itself.
  • Rinse out with water and transfer the garment into a washing machine or hand-wash it.
  • Hang to dry

Tip: Add soap or rubbing alcohol if the method seems not to work.

Method 2: Water and detergent

 Depending on the fabric and the severity of a dry stain, water and detergent can be effective at removing it. However, the approach requires a lot of elbow grease.

  • Spread the garment on a flat surface and use a soft brush to flake off excess paint.
  • Wet the garment on running water and use a toothbrush to scrub the stain.
  • Add detergent and continue scrubbing until the stain begins to fade.
  • Repeat the above two steps until the entire stain clears.
  • Rinse thorough with running tap water.
  • Wash the garment and hang to dry.

Method 3: Rubbing Alcohol (Most effective method)

Mostly, latex paint becomes more difficult to remove when left to dry. Therefore, the most ideal approach is to try solutions that are more powerful than plain water or water and detergent.

  • Use a soft brush to scrub off dried paint from your garment. You should notice flakes of paint coming off easily.
  • Apply rubbing alcohol directly on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes.
  • Scrub with the soft brush gently until the stain clears. Alternatively, rub the fabric against itself.
  • Repeat the above two steps if need be.
  • Rinse the area with warm water and wash the entire garment before hanging to dry.

Method 4: Nail polish remover

Nail polish remover contains acetone which thins paint stains, nail polish and a variety of other spills. However, it is important to test its application on a small part of the inside hem of your garment to make sure that it cannot cause damage.

  • Use a spoon or soft brush to flake off excess paint from your garment.
  • Apply nail polish remover generously on a piece of cotton wool or microfiber cloth.
  • Dab the stain repeatedly with the cotton wool
  • Reapply remover to the cotton wool and continue dabbing the stain until it thins out completely
  • Rub the stained area of the fabric against itself under running water and rinse thoroughly
  • Follow the care label instructions to wash the garment and hang to dry

Other methods

Other methods that you can use to remove latex paint successfully include application of denatured alcohol, use of commercial stain removers, and use of white and methylated spirits.

How to get Acrylic Paint out of Clothes

how to get acrylic paint out of clothes

 Acrylic paint is a bit more difficult to remove compared to latex paint. However, the rules remain the same in the sense that wet paint is easier to remove. Specifically, acrylic paint is water soluble. Therefore, it becomes resistant to water after drying.

Method 1: Water and Detergent

The water and detergent method is only applicable to wet acrylic paint.

Water can thin wet acrylic paint successfully. However, the level of luck might also depend on the fabric of your garment, the paint pigment and the level of urgency to which you treat the stain.

  • Lay the stained garment of a flat surface and use a blunt knife or spoon to scrape off excess paint.
  • Dab the spot with a sponge or microfiber cloth to remove as much paint as you can. Avoid rubbing forcefully to avoid forcing the paint deeper into the garment fibers.
  • Apply liquid or powder detergent on the stained area and clean thoroughly under running cool water.
  • Use a toothbrush to clean or rub the fabric against itself.
  • Repeat the above two steps severally. It takes a lot of elbow grease but the stain will thin gradually.
  • Rinse the area and transfer the garment into the washing machine. Alternatively hand wash it and hang to dry.

Tip: If you are not in a position to wash a garment immediately after staining, scrape off excess paint and dab the spot with a cotton wool that is saturated with detergent. Follow up by removing the garment and soaking it in a solution of water and detergent for several hours.

Method 2: Isopropyl alcohol

If acrylic paint dries on your garment, it becomes almost impossible to remove. However, try your luck with this method or the techniques below it.

  • Use a spoon or blunt knife to scrape off excess paint from the garment
  • Dab the stain with a cotton wool or microfiber cloth lift off more paint from the garment.
  • Apply a generous amount of isopropyl alcohol on the stain.
  • Rub continuously with a white dry cloth until you notice the stain disappearing.
  • Apply the alcohol again and repeat the rubbing process until the entire stain is clears.
  • Wash the entire garment by hand or in the washing machine and hang to dry.

Method 3: Hair Spray

The hair spray method works in almost the same way as the rubbing alcohol method. However, it might be less or more effective depending on your garment.

  • Use a blunt object to remove excess paint from your garment
  • Saturate the stain with hair spray
  • Rub continuously with a white cloth and observe the stain begin to thin.
  • Repeat the spraying and rubbing steps until the stain clears
  • Rinse the spot with running water
  • Clean the entire garment in the washing machine or by hand-washing and hang to dry.

Tip: You can also try this method with an alcohol-based deodorant.

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