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How To Get Paint Out Of Clothes

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How To Get Paint Out Of Clothes

Image credit: RAJESH misra, Public Domain Pictures

Even really cautious people are going to get messy when they paint. When one of your shirts gets put through the wringer after a do-it-yourself project, it doesn’t necessarily have to be the end of the road. In this guide, we illustrate some of the best practices to get your clothes in wearable condition again after a job.

Diagnose the Situation

First, it’s important to understand the type of paint that has found its way onto your clothes. There are two main types of paint you’re likely to encounter: water- or oil-based.

If the paint in question is water-based, you are in luck. This material is usually relatively easy to remove. In the guide that follows, we will illustrate how to remove paint in either scenario.

Check the Label on the Paint Can

While this guide is pretty handy, it can be even more useful to hear directly from the manufacturer about how to remove the paint. Some companies are kind enough to include information for exactly this on the can. If you can find these instructions, all the better!

paint can label

Image credit: Airman Nicole Sikorski, Shaw Air Force Base

Scrape Off Paint With Blunt Tool

This part of the process is a little challenging, because you want to be thorough enough to scrape the paint off, but not so rough that you damage the fabric.

A spoon or a butter knife are both good ways to remove the paint without poking a hole in your shirt.

blunt tool

Image credit: Giano , Wikimedia

Wipe Off Wet Paint

Paint forms a crusty layer pretty quickly. However, it can take many hours for it to settle in completely. This means that once you scrape off the dried crusty stuff, you may uncover some leftover wet paint. Try to blot off as much of it as you can with a paper towel. Be careful, though. If you blot too hard, you risk rubbing the paint deeper into the fabric.

Apply Water

Once you’ve removed as much paint as you can by hand, it’s time to start rinsing. Run the fabric through the water until the runoff comes out clear.

bucket of water

Image credit: Jon Pallbo, Wikimedia

Use Cleaning Solution

Even if the water is able to remove a lot of the paint, you’re still going to have a stain on your hands. It’s now time for some cleaning solution.

Acetone is a particularly potent solution that’s good for addressing deep stains. It will also be reliable if you are dealing with tougher paint, such as oil-based products.

Be mindful of the fact that more potent cleaners may leave their own stains. Unfortunately, in the case of extreme paint coverage, you may not be able to escape with your clothes unstained.


Image credit: UCL Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Flickr

Study Cleaning Instructions That Are Specific to the Fabric

Soon, it will be time to give your clothes a run through the washing machine. Before you do, though, study the cleaning labels on your clothes. It’s always a good idea to study the label anyway, but this is particularly true when the chances of a laundry mishap are higher than normal.

Run It Through the Washing Machine

Now it’s time to let the washing machine finish the job. This part of the process is essentially the same as any other time that you wash your clothes, but with two key exceptions. First, be careful not to throw anything other than the paint-covered clothes in the wash. When it comes to paint stains, you don’t want to spread the love to your untarnished attire.

Second, it’s important not to put your clothes in the wash until the stains are as removed as they will get. If any stains remain when you put the clothes into the dryer, they’ll get baked in, making them permanent.

washing machine in use

Image credit: Richard Duncan, Public Domain Picture


It’s not always possible to completely remove a paint stain. When you make a mess out of your clothing, time is of the essence. Follow the steps in this guide as soon as you can to ensure the best possible results.