How to Get Paint Out of Clothing in 4 Steps


(Image credit: @ada_oguntodu)

Unless you’re going for that intentionally paint-splatted look, odds are you’re not thrilled when you get paint on your clothing. Since paint is made to stain, this can feel like a disaster on par with spilling red wine on a white sofa. There’s good news, however: Spilling paint on your clothing isn’t quite the calamity you’re envisioning. In fact, restoring your clothing to its original status is fairly straightforward with the right tools. There’s one thing note before we dive in: If this is a particularly pricey or cherished garment, professional dry cleaning may be the safest route to take.

Read on to learn how to get paint out of clothing in just four simple steps.

What You'll Need

The most important item you’ll need to have on hand is isopropyl alcohol. This nearly magical cleansing agent is also a good idea to keep stocked for disinfecting cuts and scrapes, treating most fabric stains, and keeping your workstation clean.

You’ll also need some warm water, a clean cloth, and an old toothbrush.

Note that the following fabrics cannot be cleaned with this method—take them to the dry cleaners instead: silk, wool, acetate, and rayon.

What to Do

1. Wet the Fabric


(Image credit: @_marisamartins_)

There’s no need to soak the garment, but you’ll want the affected area to be fully damp before proceeding to the next step. Be sure to use clean, warm water.

2. Apply the Isopropyl Alcohol


(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker)

Thoroughly saturate the paint-stained section of clothing with the isopropyl alcohol. Note, the higher the concentration the better: Aim to use 99% alcohol if possible. 

3. Scrub the Paint


(Image credit: @eggcanvas)

Using your brush, get to work scrubbing the paint. As the alcohol works its magic, you should see the paint begin to dry, flake, and crumble. When bits of paint loosen, remove them with your cloth or by hand, and don’t be shy about periodically flushing the area with additional alcohol as you go.

4. Wash the Item


(Image credit: Szymon Brzoska/The Style Stalker)

Once you’ve thoroughly removed the paint, complete the process by laundering your article of clothing as usual. Unless the garment has special care instructions, machine wash on warm, and then dry it however you normally would. Do not run the garment through a warm wash or dry cycle if paint still lingers, as this process will "bake in” stains.

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Now that you know how to get paint out of clothing, you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and return to your project.

Up next, learn the best colors to wear this summer.

This story was published at an earlier date and has been recently updated.