Even the most careful painter is going to get paint on surfaces accidentally. Knowing how to remove acrylic paint depends on a couple of factors.
- First, make sure the paint you are trying to remove is acrylic. Oil based paints require different methods and solvents than ‘plastic’ acrylic based paint.
- Second, make sure you know the composition of your garment fibers as well. For example, using acetone might dissolve fabrics with modacrylic, acetate or triacetate content. Read your labels first!
The best case senario is to start the process to remove the acrylic paint while it is still wet. After the paint is dry, it becomes more of a challenge.
Try to catch acrylic paint while it is still wet if you want the best results in how to remove acrylic paint from clothing
Removing Acrylic Paint from Fabric
While the Acrylic Paint is Still Wet:
Flush the area with clear water and blot up the residue with paper towels.
If you can get most of it up, and it barely shows, then try rubbing a teaspoon of oxygen boost powder like Oxyclean into the area and add a few drops of your favorite laundry detergent into the paste. Then laundering as usual might be sufficient to clear the last bit of paint off the fabric.
Sometimes, however, the pigment in the paint color has more organic staining capabilities.
For example, just a tiny amount of acrylic Phtalo Blue (which is an intense blue pigment) is notoriously staining.
If that particular paint color gets on my clothes, I’ll flush like crazy until it is clear nothing else is going to come out, then I make a paste using an oxygen booster like Oxyclean and scrub it into the stain.
Wash the garment on warm temperature with a very good laundry soap like Tide.
Unfortunately, some acrylic pigments bind to the fibers of the clothing and permanently stain the fabric. Blame the pigment, not the paint!
Often the ability to remove acrylic from fabric is dependent on the fiber content of the fabric.
Cotton is very absorbent and is reluctant to release paint easily.
Some fibers like rayon are not meant to be washed in water and trying to get the acrylic out may fade the dye in the fabric too.
It is best to trust beloved rayon garments to professional dry cleaners.
If the Acrylic Paint Has Already Dried:
Don’t lose hope yet! There are several tried and true methods that work with varying degrees of success. Let’s start with the less toxic methods first:
All you need with this method is Isopropyl Alcohol, an old toothbrush and some paper towels.
Soak the dried paint area with the Isopropyl Alcohol and after about five minutes, brush the paint to loosen its grip on the fabric with the toothbrush.
The bad news is that this method can take up to an hour of continuously soaking and scrubbing on your part.
Here’s a video demonstrating using rubbing alcohol (Isopropyl). The paint removal on cloth demo is at 11:24 minutes:
If your fabric is made of fuzzy fibers like a sweatshirt made of cotton, you can damage the fibers enough that it will look worn when you are done.
If your fabric is like a sweater, the scrubbing can create pills or shred the yarn fibers irreparably. It will work best on jeans or tougher shirt fabric like chambray.
After removing all the paint from the fabric, pretreat the area with a paste of Oxyclean and wash the fabric in your washing machine in warm water with a good detergent.
Do NOT put the fabric in the dryer until you are satisfied the paint is completely gone, as heat will ‘set’ the acrylic paint.
Murphy’s Oil Soap
Murphy’s Oil Soap is a plant oil-based soap for hardwood floors. The Environmental Working Group (a toxicity testing and watchdog group) rates it a C rating.
I use it to clean my paintbrushes and it works great. Use the same methods as with Isopropyl Alcohol.
Let it soak in, scrub like mad, rinse with a lot of water before you put it in the washing machine (you don’t want to create suds in your washing machine) and use the Oxyclean as well as a laundry detergent.
Don’t dry the fabric in a dryer unless the paint is completely gone as heat from the dryer will permanently set the acrylic paint into the fabric.
You can find it here.
Winsor and Newton’s Brush Cleaner and Restorer
Finally, here is the same method using Winsor and Newton Artist’s Brush Cleaner and Restorer.
You can find it here.
Here’s a tutorial so you can see its effectiveness for yourself:
Perhaps the least effective way, but if you have some on hand, give it a go! The alcohol and propellant in the hairspray are what loosen the binder in the dried acrylic. Here it is in action:
Fingernail polish remover
If you have some around the house, it’s worth a try to get acrylic paint out of fabric.
BUT before you get started, take a very small drop and try it out on an inconspicuous place on your fabric (like the inside hem of the garment).
Blot with a paper towel and check that the dyes in the fabric are not lifting.
Use the soak, scrub, rinse repeat methods as in the above directions and remember it’s not going to come magically off with one swipe. Elbow grease with that toothbrush will be most helpful.
How To Remove Acrylic Paint Conclusion:
It is often possible to get acrylic paint out of fabric and clothing. In all cases, it takes a bit of time and elbow grease plus a liquid capable of loosening the chemical bond within the acrylic paint itself. Good luck rescuing your favorite or cherished garment or fabric! It will be worth the effort!