An image of a paintbrush, covered in white paint.

How to get rid of paint stains on clothes

Whether you’re brightening up the whole house with a fresh lick of paint, or just covering up a couple of smudges here and there, accidental paint splashes are practically inevitable. So what do you do after you’ve flicked ‘Jasmine Shimmer’ paint all over your nicest jeans, or dipped your sleeve into ‘Sunset Blush’?  Don’t worry: we know how to get rid of paint stains on clothes, and we’re happy to help you out. 


How to remove paint stains from clothing

Before you start tackling the paint stain, it’s a good idea to read the label on the paint tin. If you’re lucky, there will be some advice from the manufacturer on how to remove paint stains in this particular shade. If not, then the tin will at least tell you whether the paint is oil- or water-based. 

If the paint is water-based, you’re in luck – a high quality laundry detergent might be the only paint stain remover you’ll need. Find out how to handle water-based paint stains here. If the paint is oil-based (as many emulsion paints are) you’ll need a bit more help. Here’s how to remove paint stains from clothes:

  1. Keep the paint wet. Wet paint is much, much easier to remove than dry paint. If you can’t get to work on the stain right away, sprinkle a little water on it to keep it from drying out.
  2. Treat with paint remover. Place the garment on a few sheets of kitchen towel, with the stained side facing down. Then dab at the back of the stain with a clean rag soaked in paint thinner – something like white spirits or turpentine. Believe it or not, these products can remove paint stains from clothes as well as surfaces!

    Top tip: Make sure you check the paint tin before you start, as it may recommend one particular paint stain remover over another. It’s also important to read the garment’s care label, as turpentine and white spirits can mark certain types of synthetic and delicate fabrics. 
  3. Treat with Surf excel liquid detergent, then soak. Work a little bit of Surf excel liquid detergent into the stain with the Scrubber Cap. Check the care label to find out how much heat the fabric can take, then leave the garment to soak in hot water for a few hours – overnight if possible. 
  4. Pre-treat again, then wash. Dab on another dose of detergent, then wash the garment as you usually would. Again, make sure the water is at the hottest temperature the fabric can take.
  5. Let the item air-dry. Check for any lingering paint stains – all gone? If not, start again from step one. If the stain has disappeared, hang the garment out to dry naturally. Avoid using a tumble dryer for now: if there’s any paint left, the heat of the dryer will set it permanently. 

Top tip: Not entirely sure if your paint is water- or oil-based? Look for instructions on how to clean your paint brushes on the paint tin’s product label. If you are advised to clean them in water, the paint is water-based; if you are advised to use turpentine or white spirits, it’s oil-based. 

So, that’s how to remove paint stains from clothing like a genuine professional decorator! Give it a go and see – your clothes will soon look as great as your freshly painted walls. 

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