Whether it's a hobby or profession, painting always comes with a risk of accidental stains. Furniture, clothing, flooring and all other nearby items can end up stained by spills or splatters that might be difficult to remove, especially if you don't tackle them immediately. Stains from watercolor paint are among the easiest paint stains to get out because the paint is water-soluble. The best approach and the best choices for stain-removal products will depend on the type of item that is stained. Watercolor stains that have already dried tend to be trickier but not impossible to remove, as are darker-color watercolor stains.
Removing Watercolor Stains From Fabrics
As soon as you notice a watercolor stain on a washable fabric, rinse it with warm or hot water. For delicate or dry-clean-only fabrics, consult a professional cleaner. If a stain remains after rinsing, spot-treat the stain, presoak the item and then launder it. Spot-treat the stain by applying dish soap or liquid laundry detergent directly on the stained area. Let the product soak in for at least 30 minutes and then rinse and look to see if the stain has disappeared. If so, launder the item as usual.
If the stain remains after the spot treatment, presoak the item in a basin of hot water with laundry detergent or a stain-fighting product mixed in. Soak the item for at least 30 minutes or following the stain product's directions until the stain has lifted. Launder the item as usual but do not dry it with heat until the stain is gone. Otherwise, repeat the spot treatment and presoak steps as needed. For white fabrics, you can tackle watercolor paint stains with bleach or hydrogen peroxide.
Removing Watercolor Stains From Nonporous Surfaces
Removing watercolor paint stains from nonporous surfaces, such as metal, plastic, glass and ceramics, should be a cinch. Because the paint is water-based and these types of surfaces won't soak it up, you can usually clean up watercolor paint stains with a dampened cloth or paper towel. If plain water doesn't remove the stain, try hot water with a little dish soap mixed in.
If you're left with noticeable staining after cleaning with plain or soapy water, purchase some artists' brush cleaner, which is available in liquid and solid forms. Apply a little of the product to the stained surface with a damp sponge or cloth and rub away the stains. Rinse with plain water afterward.
Removing Watercolor Stains From Carpets and Rugs
If you notice a watercolor paint stain on a carpet or rug while it's still wet, blot the paint with a paper towel or rag to remove as much as possible. Next, apply a small amount of club soda to the stain and blot it gently with a rag or paper towels. If the stain remains, soak the stain with hot, soapy water for about five minutes before blotting. Rinse the soapy area with plain water and dry it with a towel.
For watercolor paint stains that remain after cleaning with soapy water, purchase a carpet cleaning or carpet stain removal product and follow the manufacturer's instructions. Rinse the product with plain water after use.
Removing Watercolor Stains From Wood
Watercolor paint stains on wood can be tricky, especially if the wood is unfinished and soaks up the paint. First, try washing the stained part of the wood with water. If the stain remains, use a cream-type or powder-type cleaner containing bleach. Apply the cleaner with a damp sponge or cloth and gently scrub the stain in a circular motion. Rinse away the cleaning product with plain water and dry the wood as much as possible with a towel.
For a more aggressive solution, clean the watercolor stain with nail polish remover applied to a cotton ball and then immediately rinse it with water. For stubborn watercolor paint stains on unfinished wood, consider sandpaper.
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- Crayola: How to Remove Watercolor Paint from Finished Wood (Paneling, Paint, Stain, Varnish)