How to Get Paint Out of Clothes: A Comprehensive Guide from a Qualified Painter and Decorator

Bob Thomas


We've all been there – whether you're a professional painter and decorator like me or a DIY enthusiast giving your home a fresh coat, accidents happen.

Getting paint on your clothes might seem like a disaster, but don't worry!

In this comprehensive guide, I'll share my expertise and personal experiences on how to get paint out of clothes, so you can keep your garments looking as good as new.

Quick Summary

To get paint out of clothes, follow these steps: 1) Act quickly, 2) Identify the type of paint, 3) Use appropriate removal methods, 4) Rinse and wash the garment, and 5) Dry the garment properly. Using the right tools, techniques, and patience, you can save your favorite clothes from paint stains.

Paint Types and Removal Methods

Paint Type
Removal Method

Water-based paint

Cold water and mild detergent

Oil-based paint

Paint thinner or white spirit

Latex paint

Rubbing alcohol or acetone


Act Quickly

When dealing with paint on clothes, time is of the essence.

The faster you act, the better your chances of removing the stain completely.

If possible, start treating the stain while the paint is still wet.

Identify the Type of Paint

The type of paint you're dealing with will determine the best removal method.

Check the paint can label or refer to Table 1 above for guidance.

Use Appropriate Removal Methods

Based on the type of paint, follow these methods to remove the stain:

  • Water-based paint: Gently scrape off excess paint using a blunt knife or the edge of a spoon. Rinse the stain under cold water, then apply a mild detergent directly to the affected area. Gently rub the fabric together to loosen the paint, then rinse again.
  • Oil-based paint: Start by scraping off excess paint. Apply paint thinner or white spirit to a clean cloth, and gently dab the stain, working from the outside in to prevent spreading. Rinse the area with cold water and repeat until the stain is gone.
  • Latex paint: Scrape off excess paint and apply rubbing alcohol or acetone to a clean cloth. Gently dab the stain until it lifts. Rinse the area with cold water.

Pro Tip: Avoid using hot water, as it can set the paint into the fabric.

Rinse and Wash the Garment

Once you've removed as much paint as possible, rinse the garment thoroughly with cold water.

Then, wash the garment according to the care label instructions. Inspect the garment before drying to ensure the stain is gone.

Dry the Garment Properly

If the stain is removed, dry the garment as per the care label instructions.

If any trace of the stain remains, repeat the appropriate removal method and wash the garment again before drying.

Personal Tips and Tricks

Over the years, I've learned a few extra tips and tricks that can make the paint removal process even more effective:

  1. Pre-treat the garment: If you know you'll be painting, consider applying a fabric pre-treatment spray to your clothes. This can help make paint removal easier and more effective later on.
  2. Test the removal method on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first. This will help ensure the method is safe for the fabric and won't cause any further damage.
  3. Be patient and persistent: Sometimes, removing paint stains can require multiple attempts. Don't get discouraged if the stain doesn't come out on the first try; just keep repeating the process until you achieve the desired results.
  4. Consider professional help: If you're struggling to remove a particularly stubborn stain, it might be worth taking the garment to a professional dry cleaner. They may have specialized equipment and solutions that can effectively remove paint from your clothes.
  5. Prevention is key: To avoid paint stains in the first place, wear old clothes or protective gear (such as a painter's smock or coveralls) while working on painting projects.

Frequently Asked Questions Section (FAQs)

Q. Can all types of paint be removed from clothing?

  A: While most paint stains can be removed or at least significantly reduced, certain types of paint, like oil-based or enamel paints, may be more difficult to remove.

Always check the paint label for specific cleaning instructions.

Q. Will these paint removal methods work on all fabric types?

  A: Some fabrics may be more delicate and require special care when attempting paint removal.

Always check the care label on your garment and test any removal method on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first.

Q. Can I use these methods to remove dried paint stains?

  A: Yes, many of these methods can help remove dried paint stains.

However, dried paint stains can be more challenging to remove, and you may need to repeat the process several times for optimal results.

Q. Are the suggested household items safe to use on clothing?

  A: Most of the suggested household items, like rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and dish soap, are generally safe to use on clothing.

However, it's always a good idea to test any product on a small, inconspicuous area of the garment first to ensure it won't cause any damage or discoloration.

Q. How long should I let the removal solution sit on the stain?

  A: The amount of time you should let a removal solution sit on a paint stain will vary depending on the method you're using.

Generally, 10-15 minutes should be sufficient for most methods, but always follow the specific instructions for the method you're using.

Q. Can I machine wash my garment after treating the paint stain?

  A: After treating the paint stain and removing as much of the paint as possible, you can generally machine wash the garment following the care label instructions.

Be sure to check the stain area after washing – if any paint remains, treat the stain again before drying the garment to avoid setting the stain.

Q. What if the paint stain doesn't come out after several attempts?

  A: If you've tried multiple methods and the paint stain still hasn't come out, you may want to consider taking the garment to a professional dry cleaner.

They have specialized equipment and solutions that can potentially remove stubborn paint stains.


Getting paint out of clothes might seem like a daunting task, but with the right techniques and a little patience, you can save your favorite garments from paint stains.

Just remember to act quickly, identify the type of paint, and follow the appropriate removal methods.

Suggested Products:

  1. Goo Gone Pro-Power Cleaner: This powerful cleaner is excellent for tackling paint stains, especially oil-based ones. It effectively breaks down and removes even the toughest stains, leaving your clothing looking fresh and clean.
  2. OxiClean Versatile Stain Remover: A popular and effective stain remover, OxiClean works wonders on water-based paint stains. The oxygen-based formula helps to lift and dissolve paint particles, making it easier to wash away the stain.

Remember, always follow the manufacturer's instructions for using these products and test them on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying them to the paint stain.

About the author 

Bob Thomas

A fully certified interior decorator and house painter , Bob Thomas brings immense expertise and knowledge amassed from many years of hands-on experience with residential, commercial and specialty painting and decorating projects of all sizes and scopes.

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