How to Get Paint Stains Out of Clothes

by Gail Logan ; Updated September 28, 2017

During a painting project, even the most careful painters are bound to end up with at least a few paint splatters on their clothing. Fortunately this does not mean the item is automatically ruined, as most paint stains can be removed in a few simple steps with the right materials.

Removing Paint Stains

Read the paint can's label to determine whether the paint was oil-based or water-based, as this determines how you proceed with cleaning. Also, check the label on the garment or other fabric item for care instructions.

Remove paint that is oil-based by first scraping away any paint that is on the surface of the garment or fabric item. Using a sponge, apply paint thinner to the affected area. Immediately blot the area with a a clean, white cloth. Repeat this process until the paint stain has considerably faded. Do not rinse out the paint thinner yet. Using a clean sponge, rub a laundry detergent onto the stain. Wash the item by hand in hot water, paying particular attention to the stain. Rinse thoroughly and dry normally.

Remove paint that is water-based by rinsing the fabric with warm water while the stain is still fresh. Apply a stain remover directly to the fabric and allow to set for at least five minutes. Rinse the fabric with warm water. Repeat, as necessary. Wash the fabric using hot water. Rub the affected area gently. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry.


  • For best results, treat a paint stain while it is fresh. These steps can be followed on a dried stain but the results may not be as satisfactory. Working cleansers into the back of the fabric will help prevent the stain from spreading on the front of the garment.

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About the Author

Gail Logan is a magazine editor and freelance writer based in Atlanta, AL. She received her B.A. in Journalism from Patrick Henry College. For the past four years, she has written home design, travel and food features for national magazines, including "Coastal Living," "Texas Home and Living," "Log Home Design," and "Country's Best Log Homes." When not writing, she mentors inner-city children.