Life is messy, hands get dirty and at some point, someone is going to splatter their shirt or jeans with paint. When that happens, our guide for removing dried paint from clothing is here to help you save the day (and your outfit!)

How to remove dried paint from clothes in a few steps

With all you’ve got going on, the last thing you want to do is try to remove dried paint. But you don’t have to toss your favorite outfit just yet. Although it may take a little bit of work, it’s possible to get dried paint out of clothes in just a few steps.

First, you need to know the type of paint you’re up against. Most paints are either water-based or oil-based, depending on their composition. Water-based paints include acrylic paints and latex paints. Acrylics are commonly used for artwork and crafts, while latex paints are used for painting walls and ceilings. Oil-based paints are typically glossier than water-based paints and are frequently used for painting trim, cabinetry, metal and wood doors, in addition to walls and ceilings.

If you’re unsure which type of paint you’re dealing with, check the paint can label or packaging. If it’s a water-based paint, you’re in luck because this type of paint is a little easier to remove than oil-based. But not to worry, removing oil-based paints from clothing is also achievable. Check out our step-by-step instructions below for how to remove water-based and oil-based paints from your clothes.

How to remove water-based paints from clothing

Between weekend crafts and school projects, water-based paints like acrylics and latex are probably as common in your household as peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And even though the kids tend to finger paint their papers and their clothes, the good news is that water-based paint is relatively easy to remove. Now you both can breathe a sigh of relief because her unicorn dress is not destined for the trash.

To remove water-based paints from clothing, follow these steps:

A child painting with acrylics.

Step 1

Scrape off as much excess dried paint as you can with a spoon, dull knife or brush.

Step 2

Flush the back side of the stain with warm running water. (With select Whirlpool washers’ built-in water faucet, you can do this right in the washer.) Or, you can blot it with a clean rag or paper towel to absorb as much of the remaining paint as possible.

A woman selecting settings on a washing machine.

Step 3

Saturate the stain with a mix of half detergent, half warm water and blot it vigorously with a rag or paper towel. Rinse and repeat until the paint is gone or no longer coming up. (Care tip: Spot test a small, hidden part of the garment first to ensure that none of these agents ruin/discolor the fabric.)

Step 4

Apply stain remover if necessary and wash the clothing item on the cycle recommended by its care label.

Clothes being washed in a washing machine.

Step 5

If any of the paint remains after washing, try blotting gently with a non-acetone nail polish remover, hairspray or rubbing alcohol and then rewash.

Step 6

If the stain is still there, consider bringing the item to a professional dry cleaner.


How to remove oil-based paints from clothing

Although many wall paints are now latex, oil-based paint is still a popular choice for woodwork, doors, furniture and other surfaces that demand a glossy finish or durability, like floors. This type of paint might be a little bit difficult to remove and requires more aggressive cleaning agents — and a little more elbow grease. But even when your spouse accidentally sits on a still-wet mudroom bench, getting dried paint out of his jeans doesn’t have to be a lost cause.

To remove oil-based paints from clothing, follow these steps:

A woman takes a bottle of stain remover out of a drawer.

Step 1

Turn the garment inside out on a thick stack of clean rags or paper towels. Blot the stain from the back with turpentine or the paint thinner recommended on the paint can label until no more paint comes up. (Care tip: Spot test a small, hidden part of the garment first to ensure that the paint thinner doesn’t ruin/discolor the fabric.)

Step 2

Rinse it out. (With Whirlpool brand’s built-in water faucet, you can do this right in the washer.)

A person rinses a garment under a built-in water faucet in a Whirlpool® washing machine.

Step 3

Apply dishwasher detergent to the stain and soak the garment in hot, soapy water overnight. Check the washing symbols on the item’s care tag for recommended water temperature.

Step 4

The next day, rinse the garment thoroughly and then wash it as you normally would.

An adult and child crafting with paints.

Step 5

If the stain remains after washing, treat with a stain remover and wash the item again. Don’t attempt to dry the garment until the stain is completely gone.

Step 6

If the stain proves permanent, turn it into a tie-dye work of art!

A Whirlpool® washer and dryer.

Whirlpool® washers to take on paint stains, spills and splatters

No matter who’s painting in your house (the kids who don’t roll up their sleeves, the teenagers who insist on re-doing their own rooms, your DIY-minded spouse), spills and splatters are inevitable. Luckily, you can get dried paint out of clothes — with the help of our innovative washer features, like the built-in water faucet. Check out our complete line-up of washers to make stain removal — and the rest of laundry day — run more smoothly.

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