Does Fabric Paint Wash Off [8 Strategic Ways To Get Rid Of Fabric Paint]

There’s a healthy amount of joy and pride in wearing something that features your own design. In fact, hand-painted clothes, especially denim accessories, have been in trend forever. And by using good quality fabric paint, you too can bring your designs to life at a moment’s notice!

But does fabric paint wash off?

Fabric paint, or textile paint, doesn’t easily wash off since it’s composed of an acrylic-based medium. Acrylic-based paint is generally insoluble in water. You’ll need to use inorganic solvents, i.e. alcohol-based solvents, to strip off fabric paint from clothing items. After the alcohol dissolves the binding agents, use warm water to wash off the rest.

While it’s not easy to wash off fabric paint, it’s not necessarily impossible either. Let’s go over the ways how you can practically get rid of fabric paint off clothes without ruining the texture or color of the surfaces in today’s write-up.

8 Ways To Get Fabric Paint Off Of Clothes

Whether you want to start afresh or just strip a little section to get rid of errors while painting, it’s important to know how to wash fabric paint off of clothes. Here’s a brief overview of 8 methods to wash fabric paint off of clothes –

1.     The Simple Swipe & Wipe Method

If you accidentally drop some fabric paint while painting, quickly wipes it off with a soft cloth. That way, you can get most of the paint out even before it has a chance to dry out.

However, if the paint falls on wet paint, it might get mixed with the existing layers. Then you’ll have to strip off the area entirely after wiping the paint off.

2.     Normal Washing

Fabric paint has an acrylic-based formula. And when it’s dry, it’s impossible to wash it off with water. However, when the fabric paint is completely raw, i.e. in its liquid form, the paint is somewhat water-soluble.

Hence, if it’s been only a few seconds or minutes after the application, try washing the surface normally. Keep the clothing item under running water and gently massage the surface to get rid of the liquid paint.

3.     Manual Washing

If the paint is semi-dry and hasn’t been heat-treated already, try manually washing it to wash off the fabric paint. Keep the fabric under running water and gently scrub off the paint using dish soap or liquid detergent.

Since the fabric absorbs fabric paint, it might take a few tries to get rid of the paint completely. After scrubbing the surface, rinse the fabric with clean water for a while. Then repeat the process until the paint completely washes off.

4.     Warm Soaking

Before scrubbing the paint under running water, try soaking the fabric in warm water for a couple of hours. Use a heavily-concentrated concoction of liquid detergent and warm water to soak the fabric.

It’s recommended to use equal parts of liquid detergent and water for the best possible outcome. Like the previous method, it might take a few tries to soften the paint down.

5.     Machine Washing

First, check the label to make sure the fabric can withstand the mechanics of the washing machine. If not, continue the manual rinse and repeat the method alternatingly.

Otherwise, throw the fabric in the washing machine and use a good amount of detergent as well. Don’t wash the fabric with other clothes to avoid accidental staining. Even if the paint doesn’t come off completely, it’ll likely soften up. And once that happens, you can manually wash off the rest of the paint.

6.     Alcoholic Washing

If the paint is comparatively dry, the acrylic medium won’t get dissolved in normal or warm water. Under these circumstances, you’ll need to use inorganic solvents instead.

Your best bet is to use rubbing alcohol. First, pour some rubbing alcohol on the surface and let it sit for a while. Afterward, scrub off the paint gently once it breaks down. But before that, make sure the fabric won’t face any deterioration in terms of texture and color due to the alcohol.

If you’re using rubbing alcohol to break down the paint, use cold water and detergent later to scrub off the paint. Read more about – How Old To Buy Spray Paint?

7.     Oil Soaking

While this method works best with skin, you can try it with soft fabric as well in place of alcohol. Use baby oil to slowly and carefully break down the paint after it softens up.

Afterward, use the regular detergent and warm water method to scrub the surface vigorously. After repeating the process multiple times, the paint will come off pretty easily.

8.     Heat Treatment

If normal soaking isn’t enough and the fabric isn’t too heavy, you can try the heat treatment. Take a big enough pot and put it on the stove with the detergent and warm water concoction.

Keep the stove on medium heat and basically cook the fabric until the binding agents in the paint start to break down. Admittedly, heat treatment is one of the most effective and low-cost methods to wash off fabric paint.

How To Wash Fabric Paint Off Metal?

It’s comparatively easy to wash fabric paint off metal rather than fabric or similar surfaces. The texture of cotton, denim, etc. fabrics is wildly different than metallic surfaces. Since the paint can’t sink into the metal, unlike normal fabrics, it’s easier to get rid of fabric paint from such surfaces.

To wash fabric paint off metal, follow these instructions –

  • Use a good amount of baking soda or vinegar with hot water and soak the surface to soften the paint, like in the clothes.
  • If you aren’t worried about scraping off the original paint alongside the fabric paint, use a paint scraper directly. Afterward, sand and polish the area for a smooth surface.
  • If the fabric paint is still wet, immediately use an alcoholic medium to wipe off the paint with a soft cloth. Make sure not to touch the alcoholic cleaning agent with bare hands.
  • You can directly heat the metallic surface to *melt* the paint. The binding agents in fabric paint break down easily in contact with high temperatures. Make sure the temperature’s not too high to melt the metallic surface as well.
  • If you don’t want the direct heat, get a hairdryer and set it up with the highest settings. Blow the hot air on the surface to slowly melt off the dried fabric paint and then wipe it off.

Getting Rid Of Fabric Paint: Precautions To Follow

If you’re looking to redesign a shirt, jeans, etc., and need to get rid of the existing fabric paint, follow these precautions –

Arrange A Proper Set-Up

The process of washing or getting rid of fabric paint is a comparatively fast-paced one. So, make sure to keep all the necessary tools nearby, so you don’t have to rush around later.

First, select the perfect place, such as the kitchen sink, bathroom sink, garage toolshed, backyard lawn, etc. Make a list of the necessary items, such as –

  • Rubber hand-gloves
  • Heat-resistant hand gloves (if you’re using high temperatures to melt the paint)
  • Liquid detergent
  • Dish soap
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Alcohol-based cleaners
  • Fabric paint remover
  • Warm water
  • Big buckets (for soaking and washing)
  • Scrubs
  • Hairdryer
  • Spray bottles, etc.

Keep a mental note to keep all these things nearby while you attempt to wash off fabric paint from clothes & accessories.

Opt For Fabric-Based Measures

Don’t use rubbing alcohol, acetone, etc., on certain synthetic fabrics such as – rayon, silk, wool, etc. The alcoholic agents will completely ruin the integrity of these fabrics.

Alternatively, you should refrain from using fabric paint on these fabrics in the first place. In addition to losing their natural luster, the clothes will lose their vitality over time.

Never Skip Test Runs

Read the cleaning instructions on the clothing items before using warm water or alcohol on them. And if you’re still unsure if the fabric can handle the procedure, go for a test run first. Cut off a small piece of fabric, paint it over, and let it dry.

Afterward, use the necessary cleaning procedure to see how the test piece fares. If there’s any discoloration, refrain from pursuing that procedure altogether.

Always Wear Protective Gears

Alcoholic mediums and fabric paint removers can cause extensive irritation and inflammation. Some even experience a burning sensation on the skin. Furthermore, things can get really fatal really fast if these agents get inside the eyes or ears.

So, always wear rubber hand gloves to protect your hands from the burning sensation. Additionally, wear face masks or protectors to avoid inhaling the toxic fumes of the hairspray.

Chemical & Thermal Hazards

Keep flammable liquids, such as hairspray, alcoholic removers, acetone, etc., away from direct heat sources. If you’re using a stove to soak the fabric in hot water, detergent, etc., then don’t keep the spraying agents around.

Again, if you’re using hairspray to dissipate the binding agents of the fabric paint, stay away from fire, stoves, etc. Because if these flammable materials come into contact with fire, washing off fabric paint will be the least of your worries.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: How long should you soak clothes and accessories to wash off fabric paint?

You should soak the clothes for as long as you need to soften the paint. Usually, it’s best to soak the clothes overnight in a concoction of hot water, liquid detergent, etc. Again, you can scrub the surfaces every couple of hours, change the water, and repeat the process until the paint comes off.

Q: How long does it take for fabric paint to dry?

Fabric paint, unlike interior or exterior paint, takes only around 30-40 minutes to dry. It can take much longer if the paint is too thick, i.e. if there are an extra few layers. Alternatively, you can use a hairdryer to speed up the process. However, if the paint is too thick, you’ll risk spreading the paint if you use a hairdryer close to the surface.

Q: How to avoid a rough texture on clothes with fabric paint?

You can’t fully avoid the rough texture since the paint sits on the fabric instead of dissolving into it. However, you can water down the paint so that it’s not as thick to tone down the roughness of the texture. And once the paint dries up, wash the clothes manually so that the paint sets in properly.

Q: Can you use acetone to get rid of fabric paint?

While acetone can directly eat through fabric paint, it degrades the quality of fabric paint as well. Unlike inorganic solvents like rubbing alcohol, acetone causes discoloration. Again, after washing off the surfaces, you’ll notice distinct stains on the clothing items due to the use of acetone.

Q: How should you iron clothes with fabric paint on it?

First, let the fabric paint dry up completely. It’s better if you let the paint dry naturally. Once the paint dries out, reverse-iron the clothes, i.e. iron the opposite side of the painted surface. You can also place a spare piece of fabric over the painted surface and then iron over it. The heat treatment helps to seal the binding agents within the fabric.

Before You Go

Welp, just because it’s hard to get rid of fabric paint doesn’t mean you should give up your DIY-ing dreams! Use old clothes first to try on the designs and then slowly move on to better clothes to vitalize them with your creativity!

And if you wish to go from clothes to more lavish projects, check out – How Long Does It Take To Paint A House?

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