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How to Remove Paint Stains

Many of us have dedicated work clothes we don’t mind getting paint stained, but what about those other times? You know the ones. There’s a little bare patch on the front porch that’s been bothering you, so after dinner you quickly bust open a can of paint and grab a brush to take care of business. You’ll be careful. What could go wrong? And that’s when it happens. A dollop of paint falls right onto your nice jeans. Or maybe you accidentally brush up against a still-wet spot with your skirt or t-shirt.

And just like that, your garment is ruined. Or is it?

Spoiler alert: it isn’t. With some easy tips and loving care, you’ll know how to get paint out of your clothes in no time. Even better, you can pretend like the whole thing never happened! Even, even better—the following methods also work wonders on the craft paints that kids love to play with, and get messy with, so those superhero jammies can live to fight another day.

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How to Get Water-Based Paint Out of Clothes:
If the paint is still wet…

Act fast. Start by removing any excess wet paint with a kitchen utensil, then rinse under warm water. Blot the stained area with a clean utility cloth or with paper towels. A mild, plant-based dish detergent actually works wonders on paint, though test a small area to ensure the garment is color safe. If not, use liquid laundry detergent instead. Apply a small dollop of detergent directly to the stain and agitate the fabric to create a lather. Rinse, then check to see how it’s going, repeating the process as needed. Launder as usual.

If the paint is dry…

Begin by scraping away as much of the dried paint as you can using a knife or spoon, being careful not to damage the fabric. For sturdier fabrics, you can also use a piece of packing or duct tape to lift off excess dried paint. Then, using detergent and warm water, blot the stain with a cloth or paper towels until the stain is gone or well faded. It may take a few rounds, so be patient. Now is a great time to spritz with stain remover to provide an extra cleaning boost, then wash as normal.

For extra pesky stains on color-fast fabrics, as a last resort, you can apply a small amount or rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover and go to work on the stain with an old toothbrush. Then try another washing.


How to Get Acrylic and Oil-Based Paint Out of Clothes:

Though most craft and house paints are more likely to be water-based, oil-based paints are still commonly used on furniture and floors. Removing oil-based paints may take a little more muscle and persistence, but there’s no reason you can’t salvage those jeans after your daughter accidently sits on the still-wet kitchen stool. Since you’ll be working with products that produce fumes, we recommend doing this process in a well-ventilated area, or outside if possible.

Begin by turning the garment inside out, then stacking up some utility cloths or paper towels as a work surface. Apply a small amount of turpentine or paint thinner directly to the stain and blot with a cloth or paper towel, repeating the process until no more paint comes off. Rinse. Then saturate the stain with a mild detergent and warm water, followed by an overnight soak to help further lift the stain. Then launder as usual.

If the stain is still hanging around, try using a stain remover and washing the garment again.

If the stain still persists after that, well, then maybe it’s time to enjoy your new craft/work shirt or tie-dyed masterpiece!

We hope these easy tips are useful and help you get paint stains out of clothes and garments around your home.

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