by Amy Gordon
(last updated October 17, 2016)
If you've just painted your hallway, and your spouse comes home and brushes up against the still wet paint, don't despair! You can still save the garment. Here are some methods for getting rid of paint stains from house-painting projects or messy art projects from school.
Paint stains, as with any other stain, are best dealt with quickly. Once they dry, they become more difficult to remove. If you have the paint can, the paint can often has instructions for removing or thinning the paint. If not, what you try next depends on the type of paint involved.
For kids' art paints, if the paint is a watercolor, it should wash right out. You may want to pre-treat the area with a bit of liquid laundry detergent or a spot remover. Many kids' tempera paints are also washable—check the bottle to make sure. If the paint is washable, just pre-treat the stained area with a stain-remover spray or a bit of laundry detergent, and put the garment into the washing machine. If it is not a washable tempera paint, gently scrape or blot off the excess paint and using a clean sponge or cloth, blot some liquid dishwashing detergent and some water into the remaining paint stain. Put the garment into a sink full of cool water to soak. Blot a few more times with detergent if the stain is still there. Once the mark disappears, wash the clothing in the washing machine on a normal cycle.
For latex paints, try not to let the paint stain dry before you get to it. As long as the stain has not dried yet, you can treat it with water and detergent. Just blot the stain with dish detergent and room temperature water until all of the paint comes off.
For oil paints, try a solvent like turpentine. Blot the stain carefully until as much of the paint comes off as you think is going to come off. Then sponge the stained area in cool water, and try blotting the stain with dish detergent. Sponge the stain with cool water until all the detergent is out.
You can also try spraying an older stain with rubbing alcohol or hairspray before blotting with soap. Test the chemical first on an inconspicuous area to be sure that the alcohol does not change the color of the fabric.
Another way to refresh old stains is to try spraying them with WD-40 and then rubbing in liquid dish detergent. (WD-40 works best on oil-based paints).
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