How to Clean Paint Stains Off of Clothing

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  • 1 hours
  • Beginner
  • 20
What You'll Need
Gaffer's tape/high-speed body repair tape/duct tape
Rubbing alcohol
Butter knife

If you’ve ever painted your house or room, you know how hard removing paint stains from clothing can be. Rather than give up on stained clothing, try some of the methods below to effectively remove latex paint from your clothing.

Step 1 - Remove Initial Layers of Paint

If there is an abundance of dried latex paint on your clothing, you can use a very strong tape to peel the initial layers of paint off your clothes. Types of tapes that you can use include gaffer’s tape, extra strong duct tape, or high-speed body repair tape. Apply enough tape to cover the whole latex paint stain and quickly peel it off, removing the paint with the tape.

Step 2 - Emulsify the Stain

Paint removal is best accomplished when you emulsify the latex that is the binder for the paint. A substance that works as an emulsifier will break up the material that is causing the stain and cause it to be suspended in a solution with the emulsifier. You can use either hairspray or isopropyl alcohol as an emulsifier. Other products that work quite well as an emulsifying paint cleaner are:

Hand sanitizer

Goof off


Step 3 - Rub Briskly

This is one occasion where to remove a stain you will want to rub. In order to assist the emulsifier in removing the stain, you should use a fingernail to scrub the stained area until the stain is loosened. Many people have found that using an implement such as a butter knife to scrape at the stain to loosen it and allow the alcohol to act works quite well.

Step 4 - Wash Normally

Once you have briskly rubbed or scrubbed the stained area with the alcohol soaking the clothing, you need to throw it into the washing machine and wash normally. You will need to get the piece of clothing into the washing machine as soon as possible after finishing your scrubbing with the emulsifier, otherwise the paint will be able to dry before being washed out and you will have to go through these steps all over again.

What Won’t Work

One of the actions that helps the most for loosening up a paint stain is scrubbing. Hard objects such as butter knives, fingernails and the edges of spoons work great for this. Scrub brushes and old toothbrushes don’t have the required stiffness that is needed to scratch and soften the surface of the latex paint causing the stain.

Test for Color Fastness

As always when using chemicals on clothing materials, you should check a small, out of the way, portion of the garment to make sure your chosen emulsifier doesn’t lift the color from the fabric along with the paint.

Whether you’ve just recently gotten some paint on a valued piece of clothing or the paint’s been there for a while, removing that paint is much easier than most people think if you just know what to do. The preceding paragraphs have given you the information you need to remove that paint stain from your clothing.