How to Remove Paint Stains From Clothes: Tips and Tricks

When you’re stuck at home during lockdown with no one but your kids, your dog, or yourself to keep you company, you start doing things you’d never dared attempt…like picking up a paintbrush and realizing it’s actually pretty fun.

Or maybe you’ve decided to repaint the house, since it’s been nothing but perfect weather out anyway.

It’s all great, until you look down to see the mess you’ve made all over yourself. Don’t panic. It’s cleanable.

We’ve put together some tips and tricks to get you out of said mess. Stick around so that paint splatter won’t.

First of all, find out what type of paint it is. Paint can be:

  • Water-based: this is generally used for arts and crafts. It is quick to dry, and a bit easier to wash off.
  • Oil-based: this is the one you’d paint your house with. Because its more durable, it’s much harder to remove off fabric.

You can look at the back of the container to find out. It’s important to know because they will have to be treated differently.

Next, when did it stain? This is also important to know because as soon as the paint dries, the chances of getting rid of the evidence is greatly decreased.

With all that figured out, let’s get started.

Things you should ALWAYS do before attempting any paint stain removal:

  1. CHECK THE PAINT LABEL: there may by special instructions on how to clean paint stains to prevent setting it deeper into the fabric.
  2. CHECK THE CARE LABEL of your garment: can it be water washed or should it be drycleaned? What is the highest temperature it can be washed at?
  3. SCRAPE OFF DRY PAINT: preferably with something blunt edged so as not to ruin the fabric.
  4. LIFT OFF EXTRA WET PAINT: preferably with a cotton bud
  5. DO NOT RUB THE STAIN: this will rub it into the fabric even more.
  6. TEST THE STAIN REMOVER: on a smaller patch that’s not easily visible
  7. PROTECT YOURSELF: use masks and gloves when using some stain removal products. Ventilate the area.
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How to remove water-based paint stains:

With warm water, flush the back of the stain by turning your garment inside out. Then, apply clothes washing powder to the front of the stain. Let sit for 30 minutes for it to soak into the fabric. Use a soft bristle brush and gently dab at the stain with a flicking motion. Rinse with warm water and repeat as needed. 

Don’t wait – run it through the washing machine immediately. Wash at the highest temperature recommended. With water-based paints, you’ll have more chances of removing it successfully, even if it’s had time to dry.

However, an unsuccessful treatment the first-time round may permanently stain your clothing as it sets it deeper into the fabric. Even consulting a professional drycleaner at this point may not fully remove it.

How to remove oil-based paint stains: a bit more complicated

Flush the back of the stain with warm water by turning your garment inside out. Then, apply a commercial paint remover e.g. turpentine to the front of the stain. Turpentine is a milder organic solvent, compared to several others out there. It’s toxic – wear masks and gloves and ventilate the room.

Let sit for 5-10 minutes, then scrape off the paint with something blunt edged such as a butter knife or paint scraper. Apply clothes washing power to the stain and let it soak into the fabric for 30 minutes. Use a soft bristle brush and gently dab at the stain with a flicking motion. Rinse with warm water. Now run it through the washing machine at the highest temperature recommended.

If by this point the stain hasn’t budged, it is best to consult a professional drycleaner because, like any stain, the more failed attempts the less likely it will come out fully. However, you can soak it overnight in warm water and washing powder before reattempting the above steps the next day.

Remember that it is not just about getting the stain out, but also about protecting your garments from damage. Some fabrics may fade, especially after applying turpentine. Others may fray after the brushing or scraping process.

If you’re not sure about how to remove a paint stain, or you’re worried the garment will become damaged or unsalvageable, we’re always here for you to rely on. We have the right solvents and equipment to bring your garment back to life – after all, we’ve been doing it for years!

You can also send us an inquiry with our contact form – attach a couple of photos so we can better gauge what type of paint stain it is and how likely it can come off. We’re happy to help!

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