How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Clothes

Acrylic paint is a versatile and vibrant type of paint that artists use for various projects, such as painting on canvas or decorating furniture. However, accidents can happen, and you might find yourself with acrylic paint stains on your favorite clothes. Don’t worry! There are simple ways to remove these stains, even if the paint is dry and hardened.

Dealing with Acrylic Paint Stains

The key to successfully removing acrylic paint from clothes is to address it while it’s still wet. Once the paint dries, it becomes challenging to eliminate. If possible, treat the stain immediately by rinsing it with cold running water.

Acrylic paint contains pigments suspended in a water-soluble polymer solution. While wet, the paint is easy to remove, but it becomes water-resistant when dry. If the paint has dried on your clothing, removing it entirely may be impossible.

For dried acrylic paint stains, isopropyl alcohol is the most effective solution. Although other substances like ammonia, acetone, or paint thinner can dissolve acrylic paint, they are better suited for hard surfaces, not textiles.

Avoid using highly water-based products like vinegar or window cleaner, as they are ineffective against insoluble stains on clothing. Stick to isopropyl alcohol for removing paint from fabrics.

Note that isopropyl alcohol, ammonia, acetone, and paint thinner are flammable. When using these substances on washable fabrics, make sure to rinse out any residue with cold running water before laundering to prevent the risk of a fire.

What You’ll Need

For Wet Acrylic Paint

  • Stain remover
  • Laundry detergent

For Dried Acrylic Paint

  • Butter knife or scraping tool
  • Rag
  • Isopropyl alcohol
  • Stain remover
  • Laundry detergent

How to Remove Dried Acrylic Paint from Clothes

When Acrylic Paint is Wet

  1. Flush with Cold Water:
    • Hold the garment under cold running water, allowing the water to flow through the back side to push the paint off, preventing a permanent stain.
    • For larger amounts of paint, use a plastic spoon or paper towel to scoop it off before flushing with water.
  2. Pre-treat the Stain:
    • Apply a laundry stain remover or liquid detergent to pre-treat the paint stain.
  3. Wash Clothes:
    • Launder the item using the hottest water temperature recommended on the care instructions.
  4. Check Stain Before Drying:
    • Ensure the stain is gone before using a dryer, as heat can set the stain. If needed, repeat the stain removal process.

When Acrylic Paint is Dry

  1. Scrape the Paint:
    • Use a butter knife or scraping tool to remove as much dried paint as possible from the fabric.
  2. Break the Paint Down:
    • Apply isopropyl alcohol to the stain using a rag, gently rubbing to break down the water-resistant top layer of dried paint.
    • If pigment transfers to the rag, it indicates that the alcohol is effectively breaking down the paint.
  3. Pretreat Stain:
    • Once the top layer of paint is dissolved, flush the garment with cold running water.
    • Apply a laundry stain remover or liquid detergent to pretreat any remaining stain.
  4. Wash Clothes:
    • Launder the item as usual, following the care instructions for water temperature.
  5. Check Stain Before Drying:
    • Confirm the stain is completely gone before using a dryer to avoid setting any remnants.

What to Avoid When Dealing with Acrylic Paint Stains

Steer Clear of These Ingredients

You might have come across suggestions involving window cleaner, vinegar, and ammonia to tackle acrylic paint stains. However, these methods are not your best bet because they contain high water concentrations, making them ineffective against tough, insoluble stains.

Say No to Industrial Solvents

Avoid using industrial solvents like acetone and paint thinner. Although these substances can dissolve acrylic paint, they are designed for hard surfaces and don’t work well on soft materials like fabric.

Additionally, using them poses a risk of spontaneous combustion in your washing machine. Even if you manage to remove dried acrylic paint with repeated acetone applications, you’ll be left dealing with a flammability concern.


Dealing with acrylic paint stains on clothes can be challenging, but there are simpler and more effective methods using everyday household items. Whether you opt for dish soap and water, nail polish remover, hairspray, denatured alcohol, baking soda, dish soap, rubbing alcohol, or paint thinner, acting swiftly and testing in an inconspicuous area beforehand is crucial. With these straightforward tips, you can save your clothes from paint mishaps and continue enjoying the creative world of acrylic painting without stress.

Leave a Comment