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Does Fabric Paint Come Off?

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If you are able to work on a creative project involving fabric and paint, you will want to be sure that your efforts do not go to waste. Before you start painting, you will want to be sure the paint will not wash off.

Batik painting on silk fabric stretched on wooden frame in workshop

Does fabric paint come off?

If applied properly, fabric paint will not come off through regular washing. Proper application of fabric paint involves washing the fabric before painting, allowing the paint to dry at least 24 hours after painting, then setting it in heat. Fabric paint is typically made from acrylic polymer. While acrylic polymer is water-soluble in its liquid form, it becomes water-resistant when dry.

Of course, there are other factors to consider to make sure that your fabric paint project turns out as expected.

In this article, we’ll explore other things you will want to about fabric paint and its durability as well as some helpful tips.

Does Fabric Paint Come Out of Clothes?

woman's arm wearing in pink, painting colorful butterflies over canvas fabric cloth

If applied properly, fabric paint will not come off through regular washing. The durability will be impacted, in part, by how the fabric paint is applied to the clothes.

Fabric paint is usually formulated from acrylic paint. When wet, acrylic paint is water-soluble, so if you wash fabric containing wet fabric paint, the paint will come out.

On the other hand, dry acrylic paint resists water and does not dissolve when washed. A piece of clothing with dry fabric paint will not be affected by regular washing.

Besides letting fabric paint dry after applying it, a few other steps must be put in place to ensure that it does not come out of your clothes.

  • Let the fabric paint air dry for at least 24 hours after application. After the paint has dried, you should set it with heat. You can do this by ironing the air-dried fabric paint.
  • When setting fabric paint on your clothes, ensure that the steam settings are turned off. Also, adjust the iron to the medium heat setting before ironing.
  • Iron the paint from the reverse side and not the painted side. If that is not feasible, you may place scrap fabric over the paint before ironing it.

Doing any of the above will keep the iron from scorching the paint. It will also prevent any color transfer between the iron and the paint.

After setting fabric paint on your clothes with heat, you should wait at least 4 days before attempting to wash it.

After that period, it is very improbable that fabric paint will come out of your clothes.

How Fabric Paint Works

Two tie dye shirts and a fabric painting kit on a wooden table

Fabric paint works like most other types of paint. You apply it to the surface of your fabric, it dries, and then it remains in place.

The usual painting techniques apply when you are working with fabric paint. Although you will be painting on a rough and absorbent material, you can pretty much paint as you normally would.

Since most fabric paints are usually made from acrylic paint, you are not limited in the options of tools and brushes to work with.

You can work with acrylic brushes, rubber stamps, palette knives, towels for texture, and various other tools. You can also choose to spray paint, stencil, wet paint, or even free paint.

When painting clothes with fabric paint, you do not want to hold back on the quantity you use.

Your fabric – which is unprimed – will absorb a lot of paint. If you use the paint sparingly, you may not get the output you desire.

Be sure to load your brush up with a large amount of paint. This way, you can take multiple strokes before the brush dries out.

Before you start painting, practice with a scrap piece of fabric. This will afford you better information about the suitable shading, layers of paint, and control needed for your clothing.

You will also get to know how much your fabric bleeds, reacts, and absorbs the paint.

13 Tips for Getting Fabric Paint off of Clothes

Colorful Fabric painting and a white fabric

Whether dry or wet, fabric paint is not easy to get off clothes.

This is great when you are intentionally painting fabric to decorate clothing. It is less ideal when you accidentally get paint on your outfit.

You will have more luck getting fabric paint off your clothes when wet than when dry. The following tips may help if the paint you are trying to remove is still wet:

  1. Try removing the paint immediately. Do not waste time. If you do, the paint may dry and make removal more difficult.
  2. Keep the fabric paint away from heat. Since most fabric paints are made from acrylic, they set with heat which will make it harder to remove.
  3. Get excess or unabsorbed paint off the fabric immediately.
  4. Flush the remaining paint with a lot of water.
  5. Hand wash the fabric with detergent. You will get better results if you do this with equal parts of detergent and water. You may have to scrub and rinse multiple times to get most of the paint out.
  6. Confirm whether the clothing is suitable for machine washing. If not, you will need to keep trying to remove the stain with hand washing.
  7. Throw the fabric in a washing machine. Make sure you use a cold water setting.

Note: For delicate garments, you should seek the services of a professional. Avoid trying to get the stain out yourself.

Female artist painting on black t-shirt using brush and fabric paint

The following tips should be helpful if you are trying to remove dry fabric paint:

  1. Scrape the excess paint off. You can do this with a brush or a putty knife. Be gentle to avoid ripping the fabric.
  2. Check whether you can use a solvent on the clothing. Ensure that the fabric is not sensitive to solvent or requires special care.
  3. Apply a solvent. This should dissolve the paint or soften the residual paint. You may try solvents like rubbing alcohol, mineral spirit, turpentine, or acetone-based nail polish remover.
  4. Wait, then scrub. Wait for a few seconds to allow the solvent to work. When the paint starts loosening, scrub with a stiff brush being careful not to damage the fabric.
  5. Scrub with detergent and water. After getting most of the paint out with the solvent, you can try hand washing and scrubbing with detergent.
  6. Use a washing machine. After washing the fabric with your hands, wash it in a washing machine with cold water.

Does Fabric Paint Wash off Skin?

Ladies painting white tshirt using fabric paint on a table

Fabric paint will washes off the skin, but it might take a bit of extra effort. To get fabric paint off your skin, try the following:

  1. Apply soap to the spot, then scrub with water to remove big chunks of paint.
  2. In place of mineral spirits or paint thinner, apply baby oil, mineral oil, or Vaseline to loosen the paint.
  3. After applying, scrub to get the paint off your skin.
  4. If Vaseline or mineral oil is not effective, you may use nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol.

You might be able to get fabric paint off your skin. However, you should not apply it to your skin deliberately.

Fabric paint usually contains acrylic paint, which is not safe for the skin. In some cases, the main even contain toxic additives or preservatives.

Final Thoughts

Fabric paint does come off. But the ease with which it comes off depends on whether it is dry or wet and how well it was applied.

When dry and properly applied, fabric paint would not be removed through regular washing. But when wet, you can get most of it out if you are quick.


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