How to Remove Dried Fabric Paint

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Fabric paint is water-resistant when dry and needs alcohol to be removed.
Image Credit: Kolidzei/iStock/Getty Images

Getting fabric paint stains off your clothing requires an alcohol-based liquid, warm water and persistence. Fabric paint contains a binding agent that makes it stick to clothing, so removing it from a garment can be tricky. By repeating the process, however, the paint should come off in time and leave your favorite garment relatively stain-free.


What You'll Need

Before you start scraping the dried paint off your garment, you'll need to gather these materials:

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  • Rough cloth or scrub brush
  • Laundry detergent
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle
  • Rubber gloves
  • Hairspray or rubbing alcohol


Preparation and Tips to Get Started

Gather your equipment together in an area with a sink nearby, such as a bathroom or kitchen. Apply your rubber cleaning gloves to prevent your skin from being irritated by the chemicals you will use. Dried fabric paint is made to stick to clothing, so you'll need more than just soap and water to remove it completely.


Use hairspray that does not contain acetone. Most modern hairsprays don't, but check, because acetone eats through laboratory-made fabrics like acrylic and you don't want to destroy your fabric -- just the stain.

If you don't have hairspray on hand, then rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle will work fine. Once you've gathered together your equipment, you're ready to start treating your paint stain.


Steps to Remove the Paint

For recent stains, immediately place your cloth under warm water and scrub off as much of the paint as possible. Fabric paints are generally water-soluble, so the liquid should come off easily. Once the dried stain is gone, test an area of the fabric that isn't visible with the acetone-free hairspray or rubbing alcohol. Test the chemical of choice on this area and wait for it to dry. If a small amount of hairspray or rubbing alcohol leaves a discolored or faded splotch, then do not use those solutions on the fabric; instead, use laundry detergent and hot water to scrub off the stain.


If the cloth seems fairly resistant to any discoloration, spray the hairspray or rubbing alcohol heavily to cover the stain and soak into the cloth. You'll need to use a lot to break down the bonds in the paint that have dried to the fibers of your clothes.


Using a rough cloth or scrub brush, scrape off the areas of dried paint that should now be moist. Do not scrub so hard that you break down the fibers in the clothing, as this will create a lot of fading or even a hole. You only want to scratch the paint off the cloth, not the cloth itself.


Rinse the area with warm water under the sink. If the stain has yet to deteriorate, apply the same methods as many times as necessary. Throw the garment in the wash when you feel you've done as much as you can, as this will get out the rubbing alcohol and most likely remove more of the dried paint stain.


Warnings for Removing Fabric Paint

  • Acetone can deteriorate plastics, including acrylic, so it should never be used on acrylic fabric.
  • Always test chemicals on an unseen part of clothing before attempting to use it fully.
  • Wear rubber gloves to prevent burns or irritation.
  • Open doors and allow ventilation in the area to prevent the inhalation of chemicals.



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