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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.

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.

Water-based paints tend to have a good reputation. Like water-based inks, these can be flushed under cold running water and results will be seen almost instantly. Oil-based paints, on the other hand, have a worse reputation. Being oil-based, they’re much trickier to remove. So which types of paint will your kids be using at school?

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. 

How to Get Wet Acrylic Paint Stains out of Clothes

If your kids spill paint on their 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.
  • When the water runs clear, you can tackle any leftover discolouration through a pre-treatment designed for stain removal. Persil small & mighty can tackle several different paint stains on clothes, and can claim full stain removal for blue and yellow washable paint – some of the more difficult colours to get out of white clothing.
  • Wash in the machine at a warm temperature of 30 degrees or less to avoid setting the stain in high heats. Use a good quality laundry detergent to ensure that your kids’ clothes come out looking fresh and new.

How to Get Dry Acrylic Paint Stains out of Clothes

Sometimes it’s not always possible to tackle stains right away – if you’re out and about, or if your kids are at school, for example. When acrylic paint dries, it forms a plastic layer which makes it more similar to oil-based paints than water-based paints. In fact, acrylic paint is often used for decorating fabrics, so it’s actually designed to bond to fibres which can make stain removal a little tricky. 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 like Persil Bio Liquid, followed by washing in the machine with a good detergent at 30 degrees or less.

Next time you wonder ‘how do you get paint off clothes?’ just remember these handy tips and getting acrylic paint out of clothes will be quick and easy!

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A pre-treatment can help to loosen paint stains. Perisl Bio Liquid can claim full stain removal for blue and yellow washable paint. Let it work on the stain before washing as normal.