After you've painted fabric with paint, it can take quite a while to dry -- a full day to dry and three days to cure completely, in some cases. Speed up the drying time by placing the project piece out in the sun on a dry, warm day, or by heating the fabric with a hair dryer set to low heat.
Tips for Drying Fabric Paints Successfully
- Wash and dry fabrics and clothing items such as T-shirts before applying fabric paints, following the recommendations on the care tag. Many fabrics contain sizing and chemicals to make the fabric appear smooth, soft and wrinkle-free. Washing removes these chemicals, making the paint adhere and absorb better.
- Place a sheet of corrugated cardboard beneath the fabric in the area you plan to paint to help prevent bleed-through. If you're painting a shirt, skirt or even a pillowcase, place the cardboard inside the object, so the paint doesn't seep through to the other side or bind the two sides together, like glue.
- Dry the painted item in a sunny location outdoors, or near a window where a sunbeam can hit it indoors. The sunlight heats the fabric and helps dry out the paint faster.
- If you're working on a cloudy day, heat the painted area after it has a chance to dry for a little while on its own. Select low heat on a hair dryer and aim it at the fabric, holding it 1 or 2 feet from the material, moving the hair dryer back and forth slowly. Do not hold it close or use high heat, as this may overheat the paint or fabric and ruin the project.
- Select the driest area of your home if you have to dry the fabric indoors. Humid weather prolongs the drying time, so place the project in an air-conditioned room, or use a dehumidifier during humid conditions.
- Once you are certain the paint is completely dry, heat set it by placing a pressing cloth over the painted area, pressing it with an iron on a medium heat setting, without steam. Do not iron puffy fabric paint or synthetic fabrics not meant to be ironed. A dryer may also be used to heat set the fabric: Tumble dry the item for 30 minutes on high heat.