How to clean paint spills and splatters from your clothing

Paint stains need not ruin your wardrobe! Here are some tips on how to remove different kinds of paint spills and splatters from your clothing.

How to clean paint spills and splatters from your clothing

Paint stain removal tips

  • Always blot a paint stain away. If you scrub the paint, it will only become more deeply embedded in the fabric, making it harder to remove.
  • Also, never pour cleaning solution directly on the stain; instead use a clean cloth or cotton ball.
  • After applying a stain remover (commercial or all-natural), wash the garment thoroughly in cold water.
  • Avoid using the dryer until the stain has been completely removed. Otherwise, the heat will "bake" the paint into the fibre making it permanent.

Solutions to removing paint stains

Dry paint requires turpentine. Cans of odourless turpentine are available in art supply stores.

Gouache: A mixture of water and vinegar can effectively remove fresh paint. However if it’s already dry, you’ll have no choice but to use turpentine.

Water-based acrylic paint: Fresh paint can be cleaned with cold soapy water; but a dry spot requires rubbing alcohol or turpentine.

Removing paint from denim

  • Saturate the stain with a small amount of mineral spirits before washing. If you’re looking for a home-made alternative, use baking soda or white vinegar.

Removing stains from wool

  • Mix equal amounts of dish soap and ammonia. Gently but thoroughly, work the solution into the stain, then rinse, wring out, and dry flat.

Oil Paint: Remove as much of the excess paint (fresh or dry) as you can from the garment by gently scraping the surface with a spoon or spatula. Next, blot the stain with a damp cloth soaked in mineral turpentine (e.g., White Spirit); or opt for a stronger solvent such as Naphtha.

If the paint has already dried, we recommend using lard or butter to penetrate the membrane or “skin” of the paint.

  • Let it sit for a day, then remove the stain and wash the garment as normal. One word of caution: if your garment is covered in grease you may be trading one stain for another!

For sturdier fabrics, like cotton or “workwear” clothing, try lifting the stain with an oven cleaner. Let the product stand for 15 minutes, then brush it off before machine washing.

Silk and satin

Most of the time, you'll likely want to leave it up to the dry-cleaning experts! Otherwise you may further damage the fabric.

  • If you are going to try it yourself, use cotton balls soaked in mineral spirits to clean delicate fabrics. If the stain persists, take it to a dry cleaner.
  • You can try soaking the satin item in a mixture of sugar and vinegar should bring your garment back to its former glory. Let it sit for 10-20 minutes then rinse, dry flat and repeat as necessary.
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