A white paint stain on a yellow sweatshirt

How to get dried paint out of clothes

Paint removal from clothes can be achieved in just a few simple steps: remove any excess paint, flush the stain with warm water, saturate the stain with detergent and water, rinse and repeat. 

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.

Life is messy, hands get dirty and at some point, someone is going to splatter their shirt or jeans with paint. Save the day (and your outfit) when it happens by learning how to remove dried paint from clothing with this guide.

Hand blotting white paint on a yellow sweatshirt with a paper towel Hand blotting white paint on a yellow sweatshirt with a paper towel

What to do before removing paint from clothes

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:

  • Warm water

  • Clean rag or paper towel

  • Detergent

  • Stain remover (optional)

  • Non-acetone nail polish remover, hairspray or rubbing alcohol (optional)

  • Spoon, dull knife or brush

  • Washing machine

A child painting with acrylics

Step 1: Scrape off excess paint

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

A person flushing a stained fabric under running water

Step 2: Flush stain with warm running water

Flush the back side of the stain with warm running water. (With the built-in water faucet on select Whirlpool® washers, 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.

Clothes being washed in a washing machine

Step 3: Saturate stain with detergent and water mixture

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.)

A person treating stained jeans with stain remover

Step 4: Apply stain remover

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

Laundry going through a washer cycle

Step 5: If stain remains, blot and rewash

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. If you choose to treat the stain with these products, thoroughly rinse the garment in warm water before running it through a washer cycle. 

Two blue shirts hanging from hangers

Step 6: Take item to a dry cleaner

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:

  • Clean rags or paper towels

  • Turpentine or the paint thinner

  • Hot water

  • Dishwasher detergent

  • Stain remover (optional)

  • Washing machine

Person using a spoon to scrape off dried white paint from a yellow sweatshirt

Step 1: Turn garment inside out and blot the stain

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.)

Person rinsing a garment under a built-in water faucet in a Whirlpool® washing machine

Step 2: Rinse out the stain

Rinse the stain out with warm water.

A person rinsing a detergent cap under the running water of a washer

Step 3: Apply detergent and soak the stain

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.

A washer filling with water

Step 4: Rinse garment the next day

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

Laundry detergent poured into the washer's despenser compartment

Step 5: Add stain remover and wash again

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.

Tips for paint removal from clothes

From polyester to cotton, it’s possible to remove paint-stains from garments with a bit of time and effort. Whether you’ve stained your favorite pair of jeans or your best button-down shirt, keep the following tips in mind before tackling the paint spill:

  • Allowing the stain to air dry can make it harder to remove, so it’s important to act quickly. Likewise, refrain from putting the garment in the dryer prior to treating, as the heat can set the stain. 

  • When removing stains, blot the stain with gentle motions — rubbing may cause the stain to spread and worsen. 

  • Always check care labels before treating or washing stains for item-specific care instructions. 

  • Be persistent. Paint stains can be stubborn to remove and may require multiple treatments. 

What products remove dried paint from clothes?

There are several common household products available that you may be able to use to treat stubborn paint stains, including vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Before using these products to treat the paint stain, be sure to test the product on a hidden area.

While these common cleaning products are often used as household laundry solutions that may help remove stains on clothing, use caution when treating delicate items and always refer to the care tag.

When it comes to stain removal, a bit of creativity goes a long way in getting dried paint out from clothes. Remember to thoroughly rinse the garment before placing it in a washer or dryer to prevent damage to the fabric or machine. Learn how to remove other tough stains, like nail polish, hair dye and makeup from clothes.

Learn how to handle other tough washes like removing wax stains or washing shoes in your washer.

An adult and child crafting with paints An adult and child crafting with paints

What to do if a paint stain can’t be removed

If the paint stain proves permanent, there are several creative ways you can put the fabric to use as a fun, kid-friendly activity like tie-dying. If you’re crafty, consider using the stained garment to create a one-of-a-kind tablecloth or use the fabric to make a homemade quilt. 

Shop Whirlpool® washers

With the help of innovative features like the built-in water faucet on select Whirlpool® washing machines, you can rinse and preheat your garments right at the washer. Check out our complete line-up of washers to help make laundry day run more smoothly.

More laundry tips and tricks with Whirlpool brand

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