How do you get acrylic paint out of cotton?

How do you get acrilic paint out of cotton?

Answer #1

Oh, I feel for you. Acrylic paint is notoriously difficult to get out of certain fabrics. The problem with acrylic paint (which, chemically is similar to “latex” house paint, actually) is that it’s a multi-stage drying effect. The paint is put down, the water evaporates out of the paint, but a coalescent lingers behind and actually melts the acrylic particles down into one cohesive sheet of paint. This is why acrylic paints, fully cured, can be “peeled” off in entire layers.

The bad part about all of this is, if the drying gets far enough along that the coalescent has done its job, simple soap and water isn’t going to do the trick. You’re going to have to resort to solvents. The solvents which will dissolve acrylics are denatured alcohol, acetone, and MEK (methyl ethyl ketone). None of them works incredibly fast, so you’re going to have to spend a bit of time working on it. My suggestion would be to try some fingernail polish remover, to see if that will take care of it. Make sure it’s not the “non-acetone” type, ‘cause that would be pointless…

Before you attempt this, two things. Make sure that this fabric is 100% cotton, as both nylon and polyester will be damaged by acetone. Also, try a bit of acetone on the fabric in a hidden spot, to make sure it’s not going to discolor the fabric. If all seems to work well, then soak the stained area in acetone for a few minutes, and see if the paint is coming loose. If not, let it soak a little longer, and try again. When you’re done, run the garment through the washer.

If nothing else works, and the garment is otherwise ruined if you don’t get the paint off, you can try using a methylene chloride based paint remover. Understand that this is a very, very dangerous chemical, and that there is a high likelihood that it will damage the fabric, so it is a last resort measure ONLY.

If you need more specific help, or clarification of the question, send me an e-mail at

Hope I could help!

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