How to Remove Paint from Clothing

We all know that paint is not easy to get out of clothing and that it’s best to wear old clothes when we are working on a do-it-yourself project. Every now and then, however, we get caught up in the moment and don’t want to be bothered changing our clothes.

This post may contain affiliate links.

We think, “this time we’ll be neat!” only to find out we’re as messy as always! Or, we may have an occasion to bump into someone else’s DIY project and walk away with artwork on our clothing.

Don’t despair; it isn’t always fatal to your favorite pair of pants. Here is what you can and cannot do to rescue your shirt.


The first thing to do is determine whether the paint is oil or latex. If you don’t know, it will say on the can. If it is Latex paint, your chances of removing it completely are good. Latex paint is a water based product and therefore washable with water.

If you are able to get the article of clothing to a source of water before it dries you will be able to wash the paint right out. Hold the spot under a strong stream of luke warm running water and just let it flush the paint out of the fibers.

Rub it lightly and gently if to break up the paint if necessary. Most fabrics should be treated gently to avoid damaging the fibers.

Water will not work with oil paint and will only cause it to become gummy. A paint thinner is needed to cut the oil and must be used before the paint is dry. The problem with paint thinner is that it can take the color out of some types of fabrics.

Test the fabric first by rubbing thinner on a piece of the fabric that does not show, such as an inside seam. There are new thinners available that are low odor and less expensive than the petroleum based products most of us are familiar with, but work just as well.


It is possible to have good results in removing either latex or oil from your clothing while the paint is wet. The longer it sits, however, and the dryer it becomes, the more difficult the process.

One of the best solvents available on the market is Krud Kutter, a cleaning product you can find at your local paint store or a home improvement store such as Lowe’s or Home Depot.  You can also order it online from Amazon.

This product is gentle on clothing and will remove partially dried latex paint very effectively. Spray it on the spot, let it sit for 30 minutes and then rinse. Repeat this step as many times as necessary to remove the paint completely.

Krud Kutter will have little to no effect on dried oil based paint and truthfully, there isn’t much that will.

So if it’s not been one of your best days and you happen to get paint on your favorite sweater, don’t procrastinate. Take the steps suggested above as quickly as possible before it dries and chances are good you will be able to wear it paint free another day.

Once twenty four hours have passed, it’s time to get a new sweater and chalk it up to experience.

Article written by Dorothy Sander.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Please rate*

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.