If you have ever accidentally spilled paint on your clothes and wondered how or if you can remove the paint stain, in short the answer is yes.  The secret is getting to it quickly.how to remove paint on hands or skin
If paint is left to harden and dry it could be more difficult and sometimes impossible to completely remove.   Depending on whether it’s water-based or oil-based paint the results will be different.  Best advice is to get to it as quickly as possible for the best outcome. 

Know What Type Of Paint Was Used 

Start by identifying what type of paint was used, as this will make all the difference in how you end up treating the paint stain.  How you remove water-based or oil-based paints will differ in the solutions necessary to remove them.  Read our latest article on how to remove paint from clothing, skin, carpet, walls and more.

Removing Paint From Clothing

Make sure you read the clothing label to know what type of fabric you are dealing with.  The more delicate fabrics like silk, satin or lace type fabrics or other delicate fibers may be untreatable.  The more fragile or delicate the fibers of the fabrics of your clothing are the more your chances are of them being untreatable.

Try using a small amount of cleaning solution made up of 1 part dishwashing soap with 1 part warm water first in a small inconspicuous spot on the clothing.  If you notice any colour fading or bleeding, simply stop going any further so as to not destroy the garment all together. 

Start by doing a test run in an inconspicuous spot, using the 1 part dishwashing liquid and 1 part warm water solution dab onto the area vigorously.  If you notice any fading or bleeding then simply stop everything so as to not destroy the garment all together.

The best thing to remember the next time you are doing any DIY interior painting  or exterior painting is to wear protective clothing such as a smock or coveralls.  This will help prevent any paint stains from damaging your clothing.  Better yet wear the oldest t-shirt and pants that you own so that if they do get ruined you can simply throw them away without any heartache or regret. 

While both latex or oil-based as well as acrylic or water-based paint stains can be removed from clothing, the process is different for each.

Removing Water Based Paints

Fresh latex or acrylic water-based paints wash out quickly and easily if not left to harden and completely dry.  If left on any clothing to dry for hours or days it will take a little more effort to try to remove.  Dry and hardened water-based paints may need to be scraped off before it can be washed off.  Instead if you tackle removing a water-based paint from clothing early like right away, you will be able to simply and quickly wash it out.

If the paint has been left to dry and harden begin with using a knife or spoon handle and scrape off as much of it as you can.  Once all the excess dry paint has been scraped off, turn the fabric inside out so you are working with the backside of the fabric and run the stained area under warm running water. 

Mix 1 part dish soap like dawn dishwashing liquid to 1 part warm water.  Using a clean sponge dab the stain vigorously.  Continue doing this until all paint is removed. 

If the stain is stubborn and does not completely come off, you can try using a blotting motion with a cotton ball or clean cloth dipped with some acetone (nail polish remover). 

Always remember to read the clothing label to see what type of fabric you are dealing with since some fabrics cannot withstand the use of acetone. 

Removing Oil-Based Paints 

Begin by reading the paint manufacturer’s instructions on the paint can, this provides the recommendations for thinning the paint.  Typically it is a turpentine paint thinner. 

If paint is still wet, scrape off any excess and then use a clean white cloth or rag and blot as much of the paint as possible onto the rag or cloth. 

Rinse the item of clothing with warm water and repeat the blotting until as much of the paint as possible has been removed. 

For the dried up oil-based paint stain, place the fabric on a flat surface and place some paper towels or white clean cloths between the stained area and the clean part of the fabric. 

Dampen a piece of white clean rag or cloth with turpentine (paint thinner and remover) and blot the stained area until there is no more paint to be removed. 

If there are any traces of the paint stain still left on the fabric, treat it with a liquid dishwashing soap such as dawn and let it soak overnight. 

Rinse well under warm water the following morning and wash along with the rest of the laundry.   

How To Test A Paint Stain To Find Out What Type of Water-based or Oil-based Paint It Is

A quick and easy way to test a paint stain on clothing so that you can find out whether it is oil-based or water-based is to simply read the paint can label.  If by chance you no longer have the paint can you can easily perform this test.

  • Rub some rubbing alcohol on the paint stain with your finger tip, a rag or sponge and if any paint comes off then that means it is one of the different types of water based paints such as latex, or acrylic.
  • If the rubbing alcohol test ends up that it does not loosen or remove any of the paint stain then that means you used an oil-based paint, and to remove it requires the use of chemicals like turpentine.

The best thing to remember the next time you are doing any DIY painting is to wear protective clothing such as a smock or coveralls that will help prevent any paint stains from damaging your clothing. 

Better yet you should try to wear the oldest t-shirt and pants that you own so that if they do get ruined you can simply throw them away without any heartache or regret. 

If you  hire a professional house painting contractor to be working in your home and you accidentally get paint on your hands or any clothing simply ask the painters what kind of paint it is and they will be able to recommend the best tips on removing it.  Read more of our interior painting tips and advice.

If you have any questions simply drop us an email through our contact page or give us a call at 613-656-5865

This article was originally posted on Nov 26, 2017 and updated on Apr 25, 2021