How to Make Hard Paint Soft Again

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Don't toss that dried-out paint without trying to soften it again first.
Don't toss that dried-out paint without trying to soften it again first. (Image: Jupiterimages/Polka Dot/Getty Images)

Sitting down to begin a craft project, only to discover that your paint has dried into a hard lump, is frustrating. Before you throw that bottle or tube away, and make a trip to the store, try softening the old paint with a quick technique.

Things You'll Need

  • Paint
  • Water or paint solvent

Add water to cover the hardened acrylic, or water-based paint. Add rubbing alcohol, turpentine or paint thinner to oil-based paints.

Allow the paint and thinning liquid to set for at least 15 minutes. It may take longer for larger, thicker amounts of paint.

Stir or shake the paint and water, or solvent, to mix them.

Allow the mixture to set longer if it is still hard, adding water or solvent as needed.

Repeat as necessary.

Tips & Warnings

  • Help prevent drying between uses by adding a piece of plastic wrap under the lid of the paint container.
  • Remove hardened paint from the bristles of paintbrushes by soaking them in the appropriate liquid, depending on the type of paint.
  • These techniques also work for most house paints.
  • Use solvents only in well-ventilated areas.

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