Remove Acrylic Paint from Clothes and Other Surfaces with Ease

  • How to
Posted by Eliana Ribeiro
I started painting when I was working on my masters in Education. I love to incorporate art into whatever I'm teaching as a way to relax the mind and expand creative thinking.
Remove Acrylic Paint from Clothes and Other Surfaces with Ease

Table of Contents:

How to Rescue Your Stuff from Acrylic Paint Spills

Spilling acrylic paint on your couch, clothes, or wood floor can feel like a disaster. As an artist, someone who’s involved in decorating, or a hobbyist who uses acrylics often, you’ve probably had this happen. And, you’ve probably searched the Internet for how to remove acrylic paint from a variety of surfaces. You may have already tried a few methods to remove the acrylic before the paint dries; but, in case they didn’t work or you’re still searching for more helpful solutions, here are a few ideas.

Act Fast

Whether it’s a spill on a shirt, a chair, a rug, hardwood floors or any other surface, the first thing you always want to do is act fast to get it off and then rinsed with water. On soft and hard surfaces, you can get the spill cleaned up by wiping first and then by using a blunt knife, or anything handy with a hard edge, to scrape it up with. Then keep applying water until the spill is gone.

Why is working fast important? Because this kind of paint dries fast and it’s easier to remove when wet, rather than dried stains of acrylic. Because it is made of pigments suspended in an acrylic polymer solution, it is water-soluble when wet, but becomes resistant to water when dry. If you allow it to dry before removing, you may be left with a stain that may never come out.

With that being said, you may be wondering how to remove dried acrylic paint.

Cleaning Acrylic Paint from Clothing

Cleaning Acrylic Paints

The moment you notice the spill, start working on removing the excess.

After it is removed, you can:

  1. Put the item directly into the washer. Add detergent and set on cold, as warmer or hotter settings may heat-set the stain.
  2. If you cannot get your shirt or pants into the washer right away, keep submerged in water until it’s possible. It is very important to keep the spot wet until it can go into the washer.

If the paint dried a while ago, don’t worry — your garment may not be ruined. In this case, you can try:

  • Hairspray. Who would have thought that hairspray would be great for getting out stains? Simply spray it on the area in question, getting it completely wet. The spot should begin to soften, allowing you to scour it and wipe it off. Afterwards, you can run water over it and then immediately put it into the wash.
  • Fingernail polish remover. Acetone works similarly to hairspray. Use a cotton ball or the tip of a washcloth saturated in it and press it on the stain. Hold it in place for a few minutes to let the acetone begin to break it down. When it’s loose enough to scrape, try to get the dry bits off, then wipe those bits away. Rinse out the acetone with water before washing.
TIP: If you’re worried about the hairspray or acetone ruining your garment, find a small inconspicuous spot and spray it with a little hairspray or touch it with a drop of acetone to see how it reacts.
  • Commercial stain removers. There are many stain removing products on the market today. Follow the directions carefully. You will either be told to put the remover right on the stain or to use it as a pre-treatment before washing.

How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Upholstery & Carpet

Obviously, you can’t throw your sofa or carpet into the washing machine. So what do you do if you spill acrylics on the furniture or the floor?

Follow these guides:

  1. Using a knife (a butter knife works well and won’t make any cuts in the fabric or carpet) or something with a hard edge, scrape all the excess off, carefully cleaning the knife after each pass.
  2. Fill a container that is large enough to hold a washcloth, such as a bucket or large mixing bowl, with tepid water. Don’t use water that is too hot, as this may permanently set the stain.
  3. Add some laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid or bar soap until the water is soapy.
  4. Dampen the washcloth with soapy water and blot, don’t rub, the stain. (If you rub, you take the chance of setting the stain further into the fabric or carpet. Rubbing can also cause it to spread.) Rinse out the cloth between blottings to ensure you get clean, soapy water with each pass.
  5. Continue until the paint is removed and the water in the fabric runs clear.

What About Wood & Plastic Surfaces?

Wood & Plastic Surfaces

Once acrylic paint has dried on a wood floor or an outdoor plastic chair, it can be difficult to remove. But, there are ways to get it off these kinds of surfaces.

Here’s how:

  1. Using a paper towel and clean water, wipe the dried paint and the surrounding area to remove any dirt or dust particles.
  2. Take another clean paper towel and pour a little vegetable oil onto it. Hold the paper towel against the dried stain for a minute to begin the loosening process. Next, start wiping the oiled towel on the stain until as much paint has come off that will.
  3. Scrape off the leftover dried paint. NOTE: A knife is not recommended for scraping wood or plastic as it may permanently scratch these surfaces. A plastic scraper, the kind used for cleaning porcelain or scraping metal surfaces without damage, is recommended instead. Hardware stores carry this kind of plastic scraper.

Or, you can try this:

  • Use denatured alcohol, as it works the best on the most stubborn dried acrylic stains. Pour a little on a cloth or cotton ball and hold against the stain for a minute.
  • With small circular motions, rub the paint until it lifts.
  • Use a damp, soapy washcloth to wipe the area free of the alcohol.
  • Dry the area with a paper towel.
TIP: Always try the denatured alcohol on an inconspicuous area before using on the stain. Dab the alcohol on it. Let it dry to see how the alcohol reacts to your wood or plastic surface.

Get Dried Acrylic Paint Off Glass

Since glass is fragile and scratches easily, it’s essential to be careful when cleaning these surfaces. It may feel daunting at first, but with a little patience, you can have your glass looking sparkling again.

Here’s what to do:

  • Use a kitchen sponge that has a smooth side and a textured side. Dip it into a sink or bucket of warm soapy water, squeezing out the excess.
  • Rub the sponge thoroughly over the spot, starting with the smooth side of the sponge. Once the paint seems to soften, add more soapy water and rub with the textured side of the sponge. This should take care of most of it.
  • For really tough, set-on dried paint, after rubbing with the sponge, use a utility knife to scrape a little at a time from the leftover bits. Keep the glass wet at all times to help prevent scratches. Scrape by holding the knife at a 45-degree angle.
  • Use the smooth side of the wet sponge to rinse away the bits of dried scrapings.
  • Dry thoroughly with a clean cloth.

Unfortunately, accidents do happen. At first, how you’re going to remove a wet acrylic spill or a dried paint stain seems impossible. But, as you’ve just read, all is not lost. Just in case you’re caught off guard one day, we hope this article has given you some pointers on what to do to remedy the situation. Remember, act fast for the best rescue.

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