How to Remove DRY Acrylic Paint From Jeans

I have an old pair of jeans and have a very small stain of yellow paint on them. When this originally happened, I decided to leave the stain alone. In fact, this stain is about 6 months old and has been through the wash numerous times. The stain is still there so dry acrylic doesn’t come out in the wash.

For demonstration purposes, I use Isopropyl alcohol to remove it to see how well it works. Aside from breathing the fumes, the other risk of using the isopropyl alcohol is there’s a good chance that it might lighten the color of the surrounding fabric. This is especially true if you scrub too vigorously. White fabrics will probably be okay though.

I dipped the toothbrush into the isopropyl and started scrubbing. It takes awhile for the paint to soften and begin dissolving. Delicate fabrics might not hold up to the isopropyl alcohol and the scrubbing. The alcohol may may remove the paint, but then you’ll have a halo around the stained area where the fabric is lighter in color.

A before and after photo of removing an acrylic paint stain on a pair of jeans
Above is a before and after photograph of the acrylic paint stain on my jeans. There’s a small yellow stain in the photo on the left. The alcohol removed the dry paint but it lightened the color of the fabric.

After I was able to remove the stain after scrubbing it with alcohol , I washed them on warm with regular laundry detergent. The stain is gone but there is a spot that is lighter than the rest of the jeans because of the scrubbing. I asked someone if they could notice a light spot on my jeans and they pointed it out immediately. It’s more noticeable from a distance than in this close up.

Sometimes small paint stains are less noticeable if you leave them the way they are. Overall, I don’t recommend using solvents on your clothing. Isopropyl alcohol can dissolve dry acrylic paint but it can also affect the color of the clothing.

How to Remove WET Acrylic Paint From Jeans

If the paint is wet, follow the directions from the section at the top of the post, where I remove paint stains from T-Shirts. There’s a good chance that the stain will come out in the wash if you catch it while it’s still wet. Dark jeans may hide any remaining stains better than lighter colored jeans.

The one issue is that dark jeans won’t hold up to scrubbing as well. Many modern jeans are designed to fade in the areas that get the most wear. Scrubbing these types of jeans with a brush will remove some of the color from the denim. You may want to try running it through the wash without scrubbing it with the brush.

How to Avoid Ruining Your Clothes While Painting

The best solution is to wear old clothing while you’re painting. It’s nearly impossible to paint without getting any paint on your clothing, so wear old clothes in the studio. When you purchase new clothes, put aside some of your old clothes so you can wear them while you’re painting.

It’s also a good idea to wear old shoes when you’re painting because you’re eventually going to get paint on them. Paint has a tendency to spatter, and there are plenty of opportunities for the paint to spatter your shoes. I keep an old pair of running sneakersaround to use while I’m painting. I fit them with elastic shoelaces so I can slip them on in a hurry and not have to spend time tying shoelaces. The idea is that the more convenient that you make it for yourself, the more likely it is that you will change into them.

Aprons and Smocks

Artists often wear an old shirt over their good clothing to protect it. This does help but there’s still a possibility that the paint can seep through the fabric and stain the clothing underneath. I’ve had this happen to myself a couple of times. Eventually I just decided to wear old clothing while I paint.

This is an old shirt that is sometimes wear while I paint. Notice that the paint has seeped through to the inside of the shirt, as shown on the right side of the photo. Since I wear old clothing underneath this shirt, I’m not very careful about getting paint on it. Sometimes, I even wipe my hands off on the shirt so that may explain why some of the paint has penetrated the fabric. But when you get a large gob of paint on your old shirt, there’s still a good chance that it may seep through to the clothes underneath.

Aprons for Artists

Aprons are popular among artists and craftsman. They protect the areas that are most likely to get stained and they usually include some nifty pockets for storing pencils, and supplies.

Here’s a unisex denim apron that’s on my wish list, it’s unique in that it doesn’t hang off the back of your neck. Most aprons have a loop that goes over your head and hangs from your neck. This can get annoying after wearing it for awhile. The loops crisscross across your back instead of hanging from your neck. I will update this post if I decide to try it out.

Even if you wear an apron, I still recommend that you wear old clothing underneath it because acrylic paint is permanent when it dries on fabric.

Related Questions

Is Acrylic Paint Permanent on Clothes?

If you’re painting designs on clothing then it’s best to use an acrylic paint that’s made for fabric and follow the instructions from the manufacturer. Most acrylic inks have to be “heat set” after they dry to make them permanent. You can iron the part of the clothing that contains the design with a household iron or a heat press if you have access to one.

The ink may fade noticeably if you wash it without applying heat to it. I have used acrylic based screen printing inks on T-shirts and they have held up well to repeated washings. Follow the instructions and the design shouldn’t fade very much when you wash it.

Does Acrylic Paint Wash Off With Water?

It depends upon the surface. Acrylic paint is often permanent on absorbent surfaces such as fabric and paper. Wet acrylic paint will come off with warm soapy water if the surface is hard and non absorbent such as smooth floor tiles, painted walls, or vinyl flooring. Use warm soapy water and a wet sponge to clean these surfaces. The key is not to let the acrylic paint dry because then it’s much more difficult, or impossible to remove.

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