Is Acrylic Paint Washable on Clothes?

Artistic endeavors often involve creativity and experimentation, but accidents happen. Whether a professional artist or an amateur painter, it's not uncommon to end up with a splash of paint on your clothes.

Is Acrylic Paint Washable on Clothes?

The washability of acrylic paint on clothes depends on various factors, such as the composition of the paint and the fabric's nature. 

Let's dive deeper into understanding acrylic paint before exploring its washability.

Understanding Acrylic Paint

Composition of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint consists of pigment particles suspended in an acrylic polymer emulsion. The pigments give the paint its color, while the polymer emulsion acts as a binder, holding the pigments together and adhering them to the painting surface. The composition of acrylic paint makes it water-soluble when wet, allowing easy cleanup during the painting process.

Properties of Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint possesses unique properties that contribute to its widespread popularity. It dries quickly, forms a durable and flexible film, and becomes water-resistant. These characteristics make acrylic paint suitable for various surfaces, from canvas to wood and even fabric.

Washability of Acrylic Paint on Clothes

Factors Affecting Washability

While acrylic paint is water-soluble when wet, its washability on clothes depends on several factors. 

The type and quality of acrylic paint, fabric composition, and the promptness of stain removal play crucial roles. Acrylic paints labeled as "fabric paints" are specifically formulated to enhance washability on textiles.

Precautions for Washing Acrylic Paint

Prompt action is essential to increase the chances of successfully removing acrylic paint from clothes. Here are some precautions to take when dealing with acrylic paint stains on clothing:

Act quickly: The sooner you address the stain, the easier it will be to remove.

Protect the unaffected areas: Use tape or other barriers to prevent the paint from spreading further.

Blot, don't rub: Gently blot the stain with a clean cloth or paper towel to absorb excess paint.

Removing Acrylic Paint from Clothes

Immediate Action

If you've spilled acrylic paint on your clothes, here's what you can do immediately:

Blot and scrape: Carefully blot any wet paint with a cloth or paper towel, being cautious not to spread the paint further. Then, gently scrape off any dried paint using a dull knife or spoon.

Rinse with cold water: Rinse the stained area under cold water from the backside of the fabric. This helps to flush out as much paint as possible.

Washing Acrylic Paint Stains

After taking immediate action, it's time to launder the garment:

Check the care label: Read the care instructions on the garment to determine the appropriate washing method.

Pre-treat the stain: Apply a stain remover or liquid detergent directly to the stained area. Gently rub the fabric together to work the product into the stain.

Machine wash: Wash the garment in the washing machine using the recommended water temperature and cycle for the fabric type.

Inspect before drying: Before drying the clothing, ensure the paint stain has been completely removed. Heat from drying can set the stain permanently.

Using Household Items for Stain Removal

If you don't have specialized stain removers on hand, you can try these household items to remove acrylic paint stains:

Rubbing alcohol: Dampen a clean cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently blot the stained area.

Vinegar: Mix equal parts vinegar and water, then soak the stained fabric in the solution for a few minutes before washing.

Dishwashing soap: Apply a small amount of dish soap directly to the stain and work it gently before washing.

Preventing Acrylic Paint Stains on Clothes

Prevention is always better than dealing with paint stains. Here are some measures you can take to avoid getting acrylic paint on your clothes:

Wearing Protective Clothing

When working with acrylic paint, wearing old or protective clothing, such as a smock or apron is advisable. These garments can act as a barrier between the paint and your clothes, reducing the risk of staining.

Preparing Your Workspace

Set up your painting area to minimize the chances of accidental spills or splatters. Cover your workspace with a drop cloth or newspaper and keep paint containers securely closed when not in use.

Safety Considerations

While working with acrylic paint, it's important to prioritize safety. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:

Using Proper Ventilation

Acrylic paint emits fumes, especially when used in large quantities or in a confined space. Ensure adequate ventilation by opening windows or using a fan to reduce exposure to potentially harmful vapors.

Protecting Your Skin

Avoid direct contact between acrylic paint and your skin. Wear gloves to protect your hands from paint and potential irritants if necessary. In contact, wash the affected area with mild soap and water.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I wash acrylic paint brushes in the washing machine?

No, washing acrylic paint brushes in the washing machine is not recommended. Instead, clean them using mild soap and water or a specialized brush cleaner.

2. Can I use acrylic paint on all types of fabric?

Acrylic paint suits most fabric types, including cotton, denim, and canvas. However, it's always a good idea to test a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before applying the paint to ensure compatibility and desired results.

3. Can I use acrylic paint on clothing that will be washed frequently?

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on clothing that requires frequent washing. To enhance washability, consider using fabric medium or fabric paints specifically designed for durability on textiles.

4. Can I use acrylic paint on delicate fabrics or dry-clean-only garments?

It's best to avoid using acrylic paint on delicate fabrics or garments labeled as dry-clean-only, as the paint may not be suitable for these materials. Always refer to the fabric's care instructions to determine the appropriate paint and application method.

5. Is it possible to make acrylic paint washable on clothes?

While acrylic paint is water-resistant once dry, you can increase its washability on clothes by using fabric mediums or heat-setting the paint according to the manufacturer's instructions. These methods can help the paint adhere better to the fabric fibers and withstand washing.


Acrylic paint can leave stains on clothes, but with prompt action and proper stain removal techniques, you can often restore your garments to their original condition. Remember to act quickly, pre-treat the stains, and choose the appropriate washing method based on the fabric's care instructions. By taking preventive measures and working in a well-prepared workspace, you can minimize the risk of paint stains on your clothes.