How to Remove Paint from Clothes

After working hard on a paint job, you clean up, and everything looks great. Yet, there’s a problem. You have paint on your clothes.

What’s the best way to remove paint from your clothing? We’re going to show you how it is done! One of our best pieces of advice is always to wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. It can be a t-shirt and jeans. We definitely don’t advise you to wear anything nice while painting. To be honest, it would look ridiculous painting a spare bedroom wearing a suit and tie (not that anyone may have tried that).

Paint can be a challenge to get off of clothes. That’s why we’re going to show you how to get it done step by step, so you don’t have to spend half the day struggling.

If you have clothes that are encrusted with dry paint, pay attention. You’re also going to need them as you follow these directions. Let’s get started!

First and Foremost: What Paint Did You Use?

The first thing you need to remember is the type of paint you used. You may have either used latex, water, or oil-based paintings. 

Washing off either type of paint has to be done in a certain way.

We’re going to show you the way to remove water-based paint. Likewise, we’ll give you steps if you have used oil-based and latex paints. Either way, we want to make sure you get this done properly.

What Do You Need?

You are going to need the following items – clean rags (specifically cotton), paper towels, a butter knife, liquid dish soap, laundry detergent (liquid), a clean sponge, non-acetone nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, a toothbrush, cotton balls, and turpentine.

Also, a disposable plastic container should be handy as well. 

Removing Latex Paint

Let’s keep going with steps on what to do when you have latex paint on your clothes. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Start While the Paint is Still Wet

If the paint is still wet, start as soon as possible. Spread out sheets of paper towels or clean rags under the paint so it doesn’t transfer from one piece of clothing to the other.

You’ll want to remove the wet paint with a butter knife or spoon. Next, rinse with warm water and then blot it with a paper towel or a dry rag.

Turn the clothes inside out and soak with warm water. It should soak through.

  • Use Liquid Detergent

Get color-safe liquid detergent and apply it to the stain. Hand-wash the stained areas.

Blot from time to time. If needed, repeat this step. After this, you can throw it in the washer and dryer like normal. If you are dealing with dry paint, keep reading to find out what you need to do.

  • Scrape Off Dry Paint

Using a butter knife, scrape off any dry paint. Alternatively, you can use a piece of duct tape to lift the dried paint off of the clothes. Repeat this process until all the dried paint is completely removed. 

Removing Water-based Paints

  • Scrape Off Any Excess Dry Paint

Using a butter knife, scrape off any dry paint you may have.

  • Run Warm Water

Turn the clothes inside out and run warm water through them. Then blot it with a rag or paper towel so the remaining paint can easily be absorbed.

  • Cover the Stain with this Solution

Mix a solution using the following ingredients: one-half detergent, one-half warm water, and mix. Get a rag or paper towel and blot it good. Repeat the process until there is no more paint. If you can add a bit of stain remover to this mix, you may achieve better results.

  • Use Nail Polish Remover if Possible

Using non-acetone nail polish remover, you’ll want to blot the clothing gently on any remaining paint stains. Alternatively, you can use rubbing alcohol.

  • If All Else Fails, Take it to A Dry Cleaner

If the paint still remains after using the four steps above, that’s when you need to take it to a dry cleaner.

Removing Oil-based Paints

  • Turn Clothes Inside out and Blot Them

Your first step here will be to turn the clothes inside out. Using a clean rag or paper towel, soak a portion of it in turpentine or paint thinner. There may be a recommendation located on the can of paint that you used.

Blot the stains until no more paint is lifted.

  • Rinse it Like Normal

We highly suggest rinsing it by hand in a sink.

  • Soak in Hot Soapy Water Overnight

Using dishwasher soap and hot water, soak the clothes overnight. This can be done in a washer or even a sink. Be sure to check the tag to see what the water temperature should be before performing this step.

  • Rinse Thoroughly

On the next day, rinse the clothes thoroughly using the normal process. If the stain isn’t removed, try to treat it with your favorite stain remover. Keep doing this without attempting to dry the clothing once more.

If the paint is removed, go forward with the drying process.

  • If Permanent, Discard or Use it for Something Else

At this point, if you cannot remove it, then it can be discarded. Otherwise, you can use the clothing’s fabric for something else. It’s your call on what you want to do.


Now you know how to remove paint from clothes and the steps on how to do it depending on the paint you used! We always find it easy to remove the paint as soon as possible. Dried paint can be a challenge.

These steps listed above are the bare-bones basics of removing paint from your clothes. Nothing too complicated. We don’t think there ever was a time where we exhausted all options and had to send clothes to the dry cleaners or throw them away.

But if you need to, do so. Otherwise, you might turn old clothes into a cool arts and crafts project.