How to Get Paint Out of Clothes

We all try to be as neat as possible when painting, but sometimes an accident is unavoidable. Generally, we have paint clothes that we wear, so we don’t have to worry about drips and stains, but sometimes we may just want to do a quick touch-up job and think, “I don’t need to bother changing,” but then all of a sudden… oops. “Guess I should have changed after all.”

black shirt on brick wall with green and brown paint splatter paintbrush
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At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how we got the paint on our clothes, but there are two factors that we need to determine before we go scrubbing a paint stain:

What type of paint did we spill?

Not all paint is created equally, so when browsing through these paint stain remedies, some may be better depending on the spilled paint.

How long has it been spilled?

If you notice the paint as soon as it hits your clothing, you’re in a pretty good spot to get the stain out, but if the paint has dried and been on the clothing for a while, removing it may take a little more effort.

Remedies for Water-Based Latex Paints

Dish Detergent

Latex paint is the kind of paint that’s most suitable for large painting projects, like walls or ceilings. If you spill this type of paint on your clothes, dish detergent is your go-to to remove it.

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  1. Rinse the stained fabric with a little bit of warm water.
  2. Dab the stain with a rag soaked with water and a little bit of dishwashing detergent.
  3. Let the solution sit for a few minutes, and then scrub and rinse with warm water.
  4. Repeat as needed, and then wash the garment in cold water.

This method also works on acrylic paint (a glossy paint preferred by crafters), mainly if the paint is still slightly wet.

Before trying this technique, one vital thing to know is to ensure the clothes are color safe; otherwise, treating the clothing with dish soap may make it run.

Rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is another outstanding solution for removing latex paint stains. This is a wonderful solution to try right away or a good one if dishwashing liquid doesn’t do the trick.

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  1. Wet the stain with some warm water so that the stained spot is damp.
  2. Soak a cotton ball or a toothbrush in rubbing alcohol and scrub it on the stain — don’t use a toothbrush that you intend to use again on your teeth, though!
  3. Rinse it with warm water and repeat the process as needed.
  4. Toss the garment in the wash to remove the last traces of the stain and the alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is also a favorable method for removing acrylic paint stains. 

Acetone Nail Polish Remover

Like rubbing alcohol, you can use acetone nail polish remover to clean up unwanted latex paint on clothing.

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  1. Soak a rag in acetone nail polish remover.
  2.  Blot the stain to help loosen up most of the paint.
  3. Throw the garment into the wash.

Important to know – Make sure that the fabric of the clothing doesn’t contain acetate or triacetate. The acetone in nail polish remover can damage those fibers.

Hand Sanitizer

Hand sanitizer contains some alcohol, which may help loosen up a latex paint stain.

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  1. Cover the stain in hand sanitizer.
  2. Scrub with a toothbrush.
  3. Toss garment in the wash.


Hairspray is also an effective tool to get paint out of clothes, particularly if the stain you’re struggling with is on the smaller side. Since many aerosol hairsprays contain alcohol, spraying a stain can aid in loosening lingering latex paint.

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  1. Spray the stain until it’s fully covered.
  2. Give it a good scrub with an old toothbrush.
  3. You can also try running warm water over the stain after you’ve scrubbed it and spritzing it with regular laundry stain remover.
  4. Toss the garment into the washing machine.

Tip: If you’re worried about getting a stain out, you can also use hand sanitizer and hairspray for double the stain-fighting power.

Salt, Vinegar, and Ammonia

Use this trio of household staples to remove a latex paint stain from your clothing.

clear bottle with liquid labeled white vinegar and scrub brush and sponge in background
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  1. Mix a tablespoon of salt with two tablespoons of vinegar and two tablespoons of ammonia.
  2. Soak a rag or old toothbrush in the mixture.
  3. Scrub at the stain until it comes out. Note: If the stain is large and/or highly persistent, fill the sink with water and mix in some more of the ingredients, keeping the ratio of two parts ammonia and vinegar to one part salt the same.
  4. Leave the stained garment in the sink for several hours or overnight to soak.
  5. Scrub the stain with a toothbrush again.
  6. Toss the garment in the wash. 

Lavender Essential Oil

For minor latex paint stains, here is an easy solution. Lavender essential oil can be highly effective in removing paint stains from clothing.

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  1. Drop five to seven drops of lavender essential oil on the stain.
  2. Let it sit for about half an hour.
  3. Once the oil has soaked in, use a butter knife to scrape off as much of the loosened paint as possible.
  4. Repeat as needed.
  5. Toss the garment in the wash.

Remedies for Spray Paint

In most cases, removing spray paint from clothing is unsuccessful, but if you are really set on getting the paint out, here are some remedies you can try. Most spray paints are oil-based, but some are water-based, so check the label before you start removing your stain.

Dish Soap

If the spray paint stain is still wet and the paint itself is water-based, you can use dish soap to remove some of the paint from the surface.

  1. Blot the stain.
  2. Apply dish soap to the stain and gently scrub it using a scrub brush or toothbrush.
  3. Rinse the clothing under warm water.
  4. Toss the garment in the wash as usual. 

These steps should at least remove more of the top layer of paint. Depending on how large the stain is and how much it has bonded to the fibers, you may still have to use another product to break down the stain more.


Vinegar can be an efficient stain remover due to its acidity. Although it may not be the best for removing large spray paint stains, it can work very well for minor stains. Plus, you can use it for wet or dry spray paint, and it can be used for oil- or water-based paint.

Important! Do a spot test first to ensure that the vinegar doesn’t discolor the clothing. To do a spot test, dip a cotton swab in vinegar and dab it on a hidden part of the fabric. Let it sit for a few minutes, then review for any discoloration.

If vinegar is safe to use on your clothing, continue on with these steps:

  1. Saturate a cotton ball with vinegar after you have blotted or scraped as much of the paint off as you can.
  2. Apply the vinegar to the stain until the stain is soaked.
  3. Let the vinegar sit on the stain for about 15-20 minutes, then rinse it off under warm water.
  4. Toss the garment in the wash. 

If the stain doesn’t come out, try another remedy. 

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol can be a helpful stain remover for wet spray paint, whether oil-based or water-based. It may not be as adequate against dry spray paint, but you can certainly give it a shot.

Tip: You’ll want to use rubbing alcohol at least 90% or more substantial for best results.

  1. Blot or scrape away as much paint as possible.
  2. Soak the spray paint stain in rubbing alcohol and let it sit for at least 5 minutes if the paint is still wet and longer if the paint has dried.
  3. Rinse the alcohol under warm water and check if the paint has been removed.
  4. Toss the garment in the wash.


WD-40 can effectively remove spray paint from clothing, provided the paint is oil-based and still wet. WD-40 contains solvents and degreasers that help break down sticky and oily substances, but it works best if those substances are still wet, so it may not be effective at removing dry spray paint.

  1. Blot the wet paint.
  2. Spray WD-40 on the paint area and let it soak for a few minutes.
  3. Rinse the area under warm water using a bit of dish soap to remove both the WD-40 and the paint.
  4. Toss in the wash as normal.

Important! Be careful only to spray the paint itself as WD-40 can stain clothes. This will give you an additional stain to remove. This may not be the most suitable method for everyone if you’re worried about creating additional stains.

If the paint is released but a stain remains from the WD-40, you will need to use a pre-wash stain treatment and heavy-duty laundry detergent to get the stain out.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits is another type of paint thinner that will remove oil-based spray paint from clothes. However, it is not quite as strong as turpentine, so it works better for fresh, wet spray paint stains than dry ones.

Be careful, though — mineral spirits can remove some of the colors from clothes, so it’s best to use it on white or light-colored clothing.

  1. Dip a cloth in mineral spirits, then use it to soak the paint stain by blotting thoroughly. (You may start to see some paint come off the rag.)
  2. Let it sit for 10-15 minutes, then rinse under warm water with dish soap.

If an odor from the mineral spirits persists,  soak it in a mixture of vinegar and water for a couple of hours before washing.

Remedies for Acrylic Paints

All of the above stain remedies should work for acrylic paints, too, but here is a specified stain remover for acrylic paints.

Laundry Detergent

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  1. Soak a rag in liquid detergent.
  2. Rub the stain with it.
  3. Blot and rub the stain as needed.
  4. Rinse out your garment, and then toss in the wash.

Note: If you’re worried about the strength of the undiluted detergent or working with a more delicate fabric, mix the detergent with some water and apply that to the stain.

This method is also said to work well on spray paint; make sure you’ve thoroughly soaked the stain in the detergent before rinsing.

Related Article: Spilled paint on a carpet? Try these tricks to get it out – How to Get Paint Out of Carpet

Remedies for Oil Paint

If you have spilled oil paint on your clothes, be prepared to work to remove the stain. Oil paint is the hardest to remove from anything, not just clothing. This is thanks to its durable oil base, which makes it an excellent, long-lasting paint but not so good for your clothes. But it’s not all hopeless; the method below has been proven to work in some cases.


  1. Place the garment, stain down, on a stack of paper towels.
  2. Dab the stain with the turpentine to thin out the paint, replacing the paper towels as needed.
  3. Once you’ve removed the stain, treat it with stain remover or a mix of water and dish detergent.
  4. Toss it in the wash and wash as usual.

NOTE: For step 3, only treat with water and dish detergent if you have removed all the paint.

Tip: Since turpentine has a strong odor, it is best to do this outdoors.

Alternatively, you can do the same steps above with paint thinner.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the most challenging paint to remove from clothing?

Oil-based paint is more challenging to remove and may even be impossible if it dries on your clothing. The one thing to remember with oil-based paint is never to use water when treating the stain. See our steps above on how to remove it.

How do you remove dried paint from clothing?

Removing dried-on paint from clothes, grab a spoon or a dull knife. Carefully scrape the paint free of the fibers. You want to ensure not to harm the clothing underneath it. Rinse the spot in warm water and then apply a mixture of half detergent and half warm water.

Does spray paint come out of clothes?

Spray paint, not unlike oil paint, is a challenging paint to remove from clothing. This is because the paint binds to the fibers instead of remaining on the fabric’s surface. Sometimes you can get the paint off, but not without damaging the clothing. See our section above if you want to give it your best shot.

Can you get paint out of your clothes by throwing them in the wash?

It is unlikely that any type of paint will be removed from clothing without some kind of spot treatment before tossing them in the wash. If the paint is super wet and you toss it in right away, you may have some success, but this could also set the stain in further. It’s always best to attempt the spot remedy first.

You may also risk getting the paint (depending on how much is on the clothes) on the inside of your washing machine or staining other clothes.

How do you prevent paint stains on clothing?

While you can be very careful while painting, spills, and drips are almost always unavoidable, so it’s best to wear paint clothes or clothes you don’t care about.

close up of man holding paint brush with white paint all over his coveralls
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If you’re battling with other stains, you may find these articles helpful: