Getting paint on your clothes is pretty common, even if you’re being extra careful. Here’s how to remove paint stains.
Whether you’re in the midst of a crafts activity, working on a DIY project, or fulfilling a full-scale room makeover, there’s a good chance you’ll end up with some paint on your clothes. Or, at the very least, a small splatter. But there’s no need to stress about the mess and throw away your ruined outfit. With just a couple of basic tools and a little bit of time, you can erase the stain and have your clothing looking as good as new. Try these expert tested tricks and smart cleaning tips to get rid of even the most stubborn paint stains from acrylic to emulsion varieties. There are different ways of treating certain splatters, depending on if they’re oil- or water-based paints. Plus, don’t think that because a paint stain is dried, that all hope is lost—you can treat both wet and dry stains. (And an extra bonus: We’ve got solutions for other common spots and smudges too).
Remove Excess Paint
Before you get started on any kind of stain solution, it’s a smart move to get rid of as much of the excess paint (or other stain source) as you can—that’s the best way to make sure you get a successful result. If the paint has dried, you can use a paper towel to wipe away the dried residue. If the paint is still wet, use a dull knife or a spoon to remove as much as you can.
Treat the Stain and Rinse
When you’re deciding how to treat the remaining paint stain, consider which type of paint you’re dealing with. If it’s a water-based paint, the solution is simple: All you need to do is rinse the piece of clothing in warm water until the paint color subsides, then launder that item the way you normally would (washing machine or hand washing, for example). If the paint stain came from an oil-based paint, the fix entails a few steps. First, treat the stain with turpentine. Rinse it out, and pretreat the stained area with detergent. Then rinse it out again and launder the item the way you normally would.
Fix Other Common Clothing Stains
What if your clothing is stained from a different household material? We’ve got fixes for those spots and smudges too. Ink is a common culprit: To get a ballpoint mark out of your clothing, use petroleum jelly to create a “dam” around the stain—that will keep the ink from spreading. Then use a clean toothbrush to dab the spot with rubbing alcohol. (Be sure to open a window in the room to keep it ventilated.) Next, dip a cotton ball in mineral spirits and dab the area again. Let it dry, and then rinse with a solution of 1 tablespoon of clear dish soap and 10 ounces of water. If you’re dealing with a permanent marker ink stain, there’s an easy fix: Use a clean toothbrush to rub a stain remover (like Amodex Ink and Stain Remover, $13, amazon.com) into the spot.
Makeup is another big source of clothing stains. The secret to getting rid of lipstick smudges? Hairspray! Simply spritz the spot with hairspray and let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove any residue and what’s left of the stain by wiping the area with a damp cloth. Got some foundation on your shirt? Use a cotton swab to apply rubbing alcohol to the stained area, then blot it with a cotton ball, repeating as needed. Nail polish stains can be trickier, especially if the clothing fabric is acetate or triacete—in that case, your best bet is to bring the piece to a dry cleaner to get the stain out. If you’re going to tackle the nail polish smudge yourself, place the stained area facedown on a few clean paper towels, then apply nail polish remover to the back of the stain. (Depending on the size of the stain, you may need to replace the paper towels to soak up the liquid.) Repeat as needed, then finish the task by rinsing the piece in cold water.