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Removing acrylic paint from clothes: a how-to guide to getting paint out of clothes

Kids love painting but it can be a messy activity! Read on for tips on how to get acrylic paint stains out of clothes – including dry and wet stains.


Reading Time: 2 minutes

By Cleanipedia Team

How to get paint out of clothes
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Whether your kids have enjoyed a particularly active art lesson in school, or they’ve been honing their creativity skills at home during a rainy weekend, something all parents have to deal with at some point is removing paint from clothes. Paint stains are quite unusual in that they have both a good and a bad reputation.

Most art classes in schools will use acrylic paints. Acrylic paints come somewhere in the middle of water-based and oil-based paints. While they are water-based, when they dry they form a plastic layer (which is why they’re called ‘acrylic’ paints) that makes stains much trickier to remove. For other types of paint removal, try this instead.

A pre-treatment can help to loosen paint stains. Using a liquid detergent, let it work on the stain before washing as normal.

How to Get Wet Acrylic Paint Stains out of Clothes

Try to get to work on that stain as quickly as possible, before the plastic layer forms. When the acrylic paint is still wet, it behaves very similar to a water-based paint, which means it can be removed very quickly and easily through the flushing technique, and by a quick spin in the washing machine. Follow these steps to remove acrylic paint on clothes:

  • Flush as much paint from the clothing as possible. Flushing is simple – just hold the stain under cold, running water until the discolouration fades significantly. You could also soak the clothing in a bowl of cold water for a similar effect.

  • Pre-treat the stain. When the water runs clear, you can tackle any leftover discolouration through a pre-treatment designed for stain removal, such as Persil Non Bio Liquid.

  • Wash in the machine at a warm temperature. 30 degrees or less should do to avoid setting the stain in high heats. Wash with a good quality laundry detergent.

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How to Get Dry Acrylic Paint Stains out of Clothes

Sometimes it’s not always possible to tackle stains right away. When acrylic paint dries, it forms a plastic layer which makes it more similar to oil-based paints than water-based paints. Don’t worry – here’s a technique for removing paint from clothes that’s very effective:

  • Use an alcohol-based product to try and break down the bonds in the plastic layer. Rubbing alcohol, some nail varnish removers, and even an alcohol-based hairspray all work well. Rub the product on the stain until you begin to see some of the colour transferring from the fabric to the cloth. Always be sure to test on an inconspicuous area first.

  • Once the plastic layer has been compromised, you can continue as above – using a pre-treatment, followed by washing in the machine with a good detergent at 30 degrees or less.

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Next time there's an art attack, just remember these handy tips and getting acrylic paint out of clothes will be quick and easy!

Originally published