How Can I Remove Puffy Paint Off My Backpack?

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Hairpray is just one method of removing puff paint from fabric.
Hairpray is just one method of removing puff paint from fabric. (Image: BananaStock/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Puff paint is a foam-based craft paint that puffs up as it dries, leaving a three-dimensional line or design where you apply the paint. Artisans use it for decorating clothes, shoes, picture frames, backpacks and other crafts. Unfortunately, over time the puff paint may crack or become unsightly, at which point you may need to remove it.

Hairspray

Most spray-on hairspray is composed of alcohol, water and various other ingredients depending on brand. The combination of alcohol and water is strong enough to remove puff paint, which is non-toxic and easier to remove than oil-based paints. It is gentle enough to use on your hair and is unlikely to damage the fabric of your backpack. The key to using hairspray to remove puff paint is to rinse the hairspray and paint residue from the fabric before the hairspray dries. This way, you avoid the gummy residue that some hairspray leaves behind.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are less gentle than hairspray but incredibly effective at removing tough paint stains, including oil-based paint, acrylic paint and craft paint. Mineral spirits are highly abrasive, so it only on sturdy materials, such as denim or canvas. Always work with mineral spirits in a well-ventilated area. Wear gloves and eye protection while handling it.

Method

Wet the puff paint with a damp sponge or damp cloth before attempting to remove it. If you are using hairspray, spray it directly onto the puff paint. Fold the backpack so that the puff paint is on the inside of the fold, then rub the folds together vigorously. If you are using mineral spirits, pour a small amount onto a dry rag, then dab the puff paint with the mineral spirits. Rinse the hairspray or mineral spirits immediately, before they have a chance to dry. Use warm running water. You may have to repeat the process several times before you remove all of the puff paint. After you remove the puff paint, run the backpack through the gentle cycle on a washing machine or hand-wash in a sink using a mild detergent to remove the last remnants of hairspray or mineral spirits.

Precautions

Test hairspray or mineral spirits on an unobtrusive area of the backpack, such as an inner flap or pocket, before attempting to use it on the surface of the backpack. Delicate fabrics could suffer some color loss. Always work in a well-ventilated area, as both hairspray and mineral spirits produce potentially harmful fumes. When it comes time to wash the backpack, wash it alone. If you wash it with other clothing, the color may run or leftover hairspray or mineral spirits could contaminate your other clothing.

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