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How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Fabric: Comprehensive Guide

It’s a known fact among lovers of arts and crafts that acrylic paint is extremely strong. The strength it ensures normally makes it such a reliable type of paint to use.

But what happens if exactly this strong, durable paint gets on unwelcomed places?

I’m sure it has happened before to many of you.

You’re painting, and the color splattered onto the sweater you’re wearing. Or, your sleeve accidentally grazed the wet paint of your unfinished art.

Maybe your cat walked all over your silver acrylic paint and then jumped up on you, destroying your favorite shirt. No? I guess that last one was just me.

Imagine what I did after that little incident.

Yes. You got it right! I threw the shirt away and gave my dumb cat a much-needed bath. Don’t get me wrong, I first tried washing it and picking at it but nothing seemed to work.

At the end of the day, I had to give up. If only I knew the hacks I know now, I could have easily saved my shirt!

But luckily, you don’t have to suffer the way I did!

Easy And Quick Hacks To Save The Day!

There are a few options you can go for, that are simple with a few easy steps. And the best thing is, you can do most of these with regular household items.

So, during an emergency, you won’t have to waste time running through stores, looking for rare chemicals.

Let’s face it, you’ll be working with paint and time will only dry it making it much harder to remove. You must act quickly.

So, just scroll through these foolproof ways and pick out the easiest one for yourself!

Option 1: Dish Detergent

I will put the easiest process on the list, first, assuming that everyone has dish soap at home.

First, turn the garment inside out. You want to focus on the spot the paint is on, and run warm water through. This will help remove any of the loose paint, that is naturally easy to get out. This bit will work best if the paint is still wet.

Next, get a small bowl, where you can make a soap and water mixture. For this, first pour in one part water, then the same amount of dish soap. Mix that lightly and you will have your diluted soap!

The reason behind the dilution is that dish detergent is normally very strong, and you don’t want to risk ruining the material of your cloth.

Lay out your garment with the stained side facing up. Get your bowl of soap and a small rag, cloth or sponge. Soak the sponge in the mixture and dab at the spot with it, vigorously.

It may take some time but you will notice that gradually, the color is melting and starting to fade. Remember to refrain from rubbing at the spot because that will just spread the paint further into the garment.

When you feel that enough of the paint has been removed, you can rinse the cloth with lukewarm water. Once the work is done, you can stick it into your washing machine and end up with what is hopefully a nice, clean fabric!

Option 2: Hairspray 

Here’s another common item you can use, that’s normally just lying around the house. Who would think that something used to set your hair could be such a big savior?

Again, this method works best if the paint is still wet. Your first step would be to dab away as much of the paint as possible. For this, you can use a dry paper towel or a piece of cloth.

For the next step, get the hairspray ready along with a sponge or small cloth of your choice. Coat the sponge with your hairspray and then place it for a few moments, over a bottle of nail polish remover. The remover contains acetone that will help moisten the material.

Test the chemical out by dabbing the sponge onto a small section of the fabric, which wouldn’t immediately catch the eye. If the material doesn’t show an immediate reaction to the hairspray, you’ll know this method is safe to use. Just keep dabbing at the stained spot until you are satisfied with the result.

Once the stain is scrubbed off, pop the fabric into your washing machine and wash it as you would normally. The end result will probably be a fresh, stain-free shirt.

Option 3: Isopropyl Alcohol

Now, this little ingredient might not be just lying around the house. This process is for people for whom the first two methods did not work. Or, if you just decide to go for this one on the first go, that’s cool too.

You might want to dab the wet paint off first with a towel or cloth before you go looking for the alcohol. If somehow, the paint has already dried, you could scrape it off with a spoon or knife, instead.

If you already have isopropyl alcohol at home, that’s great! But just in case you don’t, you can drop by any local shop, and you can be quite sure that they’ll have some. Otherwise, you can just order online.

The next step would be to take your alcohol and soak the stained area with it. Be generous! You need the fabric completely soaked, so the alcohol can work on the paint and loosen it up.

Once it’s fairly weak, you need to scrape the paint again, with a hard object. You could go back in with the spoon, or use a coin, your fingernail, anything.

Get creative here! The scratching and scraping this method requires won’t be so great for all fabrics. So, be gentle with the scraping, and maybe don’t go for this, if you’re working with wool or similar fragile materials.

When you are satisfied with your work, wash the fabric as usual. Dry it and see how well this process worked!

Option 4: Ammonia and Vinegar

Note: always be careful with ammonia, especially when mixing it! If you’re not comfortable using this chemical, avoid this method. Also, always double-check when mixing chemicals to avoid bad reactions. We’re including this method as we’ve seen some positive feedback about it.

This combination produces a strong mixture that may remove an ugly stain you might have from working with paint. But yes, for this you will have to pop down to your local hardware store again for some ammonia. That’s really okay; it’s not like it costs a lot.

First and foremost, you want to work with a fully damp fabric. So, throw it into a bucket of cold water or let it soak in the sink for a bit. Just let it sit while you make the cleaning mixture.

Take a small bowl and your ingredients. Mix equal parts ammonia and vinegar. You could take around a cup of each or more depending on the amount of color you have on your clothing.

Next, you want to bring your fabric out and wring all the water off it. You want a damp cloth, not one that is dripping wet. Set it on a counter or table, stained side facing up.

Soak a sponge or rag in the vinegar and ammonia mixture. One tip for safety: it’s best if you wear gloves when working with ammonia. It’s a fairly strong chemical and having your hands soaked in it for a large amount of time will not be a good idea. Also, beware of the smell! It’s terrible.

Start dabbing the sponge or cloth soaked in this strong solution and you’ll soon see the results. Don’t shy away from dabbing it vigorously, as that will get the stain out faster.

Once you feel that you’ve removed enough or all of the stain, you can just wash the material, dry it like normal and pretend this disaster never happened!

Remove acrylic paint from fabric: Final thoughts

Some of these solutions may not be the best for all fabrics. You must beware of which method you opt for and pay close attention to the quality of your fabric.

A lot of the time, the tags on clothes give an idea on how fragile the material may be. Based on that, you can choose the perfect method that agrees with you.

Pretty much all of these processes work just fine but you can always test them out. The best thing about this is, even if you fail or destroy your fabric (which we really hope you won’t), you can just tell yourself it was ruined already!

You were just trying to save the fabric from the brink of death.

But we can assure you, out of all these methods, at least one is bound to work.

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