How to Get Water-Based Paint Out of Clothes

Water-based paint has a wide range of applications, from use in artwork to painting walls. If your line of work (or hobby) brings you in contact with water-based paints, then you already know that it is impossible to work with them without a few splashes on your cloth. 

But not to worry, water-based paints are considerably easier to eliminate compared to their oil-based counterparts. No longer should you throw your garments out because of a few paint stains; water-based paint is easy to remove.

10 Ways to Get Water-Based Paint Out of Clothes

Here are 10 of the best ways to get rid of water-based paint stains on your clothes:

1. Act Quickly (If You Can)

It is infinitely easier to eliminate paint smears from your cloth when they are still wet. In essence, acting quickly can mean the difference between eliminating paint stains the easy way or the hard way. 

Granted, you might not notice a few paint drops on your cloth while you’re at it – even if you did, it’s hard to put the brush down. That’s ok as long as you take action to clean the garment immediately after the job.

2. Handwash The Cloth

Doing the laundry manually is an energy-consuming task, but it might be your only chance at redeeming your clothes from paint stains. By handwashing, your paint-stained garments have a higher chance of losing water-based paint stains. Here’s how to proceed:

  • If the paint is fairly wet, blot off excess paint from the cloth with a clean rag; scrap with a spoon if dried on. 
  • Rinse the stained spot under running water so that even more paint can exit the fabric. Do this until the stain becomes very light. 
  • Next, add 2 – 3 drops of dishwashing detergent with a cup of water, then agitate until thoroughly mixed. 
  • Moisten a sponge with the soap solution and gently scrub the paint stain with it. This should remove the remaining blemish. 
  • As a final precaution, throw the cloth into the washing machine for a good wash.  

3. Dishwashing Detergent

The average water-based paint can be removed from clothes using a dishwashing detergent. When the paint is fresh, even easier.

For fresh paint smears, rinse the spots on the garment affected by paint, then pour a sufficient amount of dishwashing detergent. Work the stained spots so that they are fully saturated, then let them sit for about 15 minutes. 

Finally, rinse the dishwashing soap away thoroughly and toss the cloth in a washing machine for a thorough wash. A good dishwashing detergent you can try is Dawn dishwashing soap.

4. Warm Water + Laundry Detergent

Before you go tough on the paint stain on your cloth, you should try treating the affected spot lightly using only warm water and laundry detergent. Doing this will increase your chances of eliminating the paint stain without bleeding the fabric’s color. Here’s how to do it: 

  • Scrape off as much paint as possible with a dull knife or spoon; wipe off using a small rag if the paint is still slightly wet.
  • Pour a stream of warm water on the fabric from the back of the stain (some washing machines have in-built faucets where you can do this). 
  • Put a few drops of laundry detergent on the stain spot, then scrub it using a clean rag. Optionally, you can spray a stain remover on the spot.

5. Nail Polish Remover

The active ingredient in most polish removers is Acetone, a strong solvent that can be used to thin or remove paint from surfaces. So if a nail polish remover is all you’ve got, then you can use it.

Rinse off as much paint as you can if it’s still slightly wet (try not to rub or you might push the paint further into the fabric). Next, moisten a clean rag with nail remover, then blot the paint stains with it. Finally, wash the garment in a washing machine. 

Note: DO NOT use nail polish on clothes with triacetate or acetate composition or they may become permanently damaged.

6. Rubbing Alcohol

It is general knowledge that alcohol works wonders for removing stubborn blemishes from surfaces. So if you’ve tried the first few methods but the paint stains won’t come out completely, then it’s time to try using rubbing alcohol.

Rinse excess paint from the cloth or scrape it using a spoon if dry. Then dampen a ball of cotton wool and with it, soak the stained spots on your cloth. After that, just wash and launder normally to eliminate the remaining stains. 

Rubbing alcohol is great for removing water-based paint stains from clothes, but it might be harsh for some fabric types, so always perform a spot test by rubbing a small, inconspicuous part of the garment to see if rubbing alcohol doesn’t affect the fabric negatively. 

Also, check out simple ways to get ink stains out of clothes. 

7. Salt + Ammonia + Vinegar

Some water-based paints have impressive staying power, so you may still see traces of the paint after trying a few of the methods above. Try this: 

  • Add two tablespoons each of vinegar and ammonia, and of salt to a small container. Agitate the ingredients until thoroughly mixed.
  • Moisten a small, clean rag with the mixture then rub at the paint stain until it begins to clear. Keep at it until you’re happy. 
  • Wash the cloth normally using a washing machine.

Warning: Do a spot test before applying this mixture to your cloth.

8. Hairspray

As it turns out, hairspray can help you to get stains out of surfaces, including fabric. If the stain is a small one, then you can use hairspray to get it out. 

First, you need to spray hairspray on the stained area until the spot is completely saturated. This will help to soften the stain so that it can be easily removed. After that, work the stain using an old brush until the stain comes out completely, then toss the garment in the machine to be laundered.

Note: With hairspray, it is a good practice to first spray a small, hidden part of the cloth to see if it doesn’t affect the fabric adversely. 

9. Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizers contain alcohol. So if you don’t have alcohol for treating the paint stains, you can grab a nearby hand sanitizer – just make sure it isn’t colored. 

To use a hand sanitizer for paint stain removal, moisten the fabric where the paint stain is located by dropping an appropriate amount of hand sanitizer on it, then let it sit for a few minutes. After taking this action, scrub the spot with a clean rag until the paint stain dissolves completely, then rinse off the spot.

You might also like to find out different brilliant ways to get stains out of white converse shoes.

10. Stain Remover

Stain removers do exactly what their names imply: remove tough stains, especially dried-in ones. So naturally, stain removers can easily bring out water-based paint stains from your garment. 

If you have a stain remover like Vanish fabric stain remover at home, simply apply it to the paint stain, then let it sit for as long as specified by the product’s manufacturer. After a few minutes, your cloth should be ready for washing. 

Tip: Some paint come with instructions covering what chemicals you may or may not use for getting stains out of your garment. Compare the hairspray formulation to ensure it’s safe to use. 

What Dissolves Dried Water-Based Paint?

Thankfully, even dried-on water-based paint will dissolve easily with the application of water and dishwashing soap. Moisten the paint stain with a few drops of equal parts of water and liquid detergent, then let it sit for a while. After the waiting, brush the spot with a clean rag. 

Handwashing the paint stain is helpful for removing dried-in stains caused by water-based paints. After washing it by hand, you can finish it off in a washing machine. 

What is The Best Way To Remove Water-Based Paint?

The best way to remove water-based paint from your cloth is by using a gentle cleaning method that effectively gets the stains out while keeping the fabric color intact. 

Of all the methods for getting out water-based stains above, we recommend using warm water and detergent to remove water-based paint stain because it’s gentle on fabric and gets the stain out in most cases. If this doesn’t remove the paint stains completely, then feel free to explore other methods on this list. 

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