How to Remove Dried Paint from Workwear

When it comes to painting, the chances are good you’ll end up with a drop or two on your clothes before the day is over. No matter what you do, it’s hard to avoid the occasional splatter or drip. Don’t worry though, those unavoidable drops are easily removed from your workwear with a little effort and a few common household items.

Read on to learn how to prepare your workwear and remove dried paint stains from it so you can keep up that professional appearance your customers expect:

How to Prep Clothing for Paint Stain Removal

What kind of Paint Was Used?

First figure out what kind of paint you used. Whether it be acrylic or oil-based, each type of paint requires a different process to break down and remove the stain. If you’re not entirely sure what kind you used and you don't have the paint container anymore, try to recall what you used to clean your paint brush.

Acrylic paints are water-based. If you used water and perhaps some detergent to clean your brush, then you most likely used a water-based paint. If you used paint thinner or turpentine to clean your brush and the paint required a long drying time, you probably used an oil-based paint or finish.

Scrape off Excess Paint

No matter what kind of paint you used, you’ll want to begin by scraping away as much of it as you can. For this, you should use a blunt object like a scraper, spoon, or even a credit card or coin. If the paint is on a tougher fabric, such as canvas or denim, you can also try gently using a stiff-bristled brush to scrape the dried paint from the surface.

Now that the excess paint is gone, it’s time to address the stain itself.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Clothing

1. Laundry Detergent Method

This simple method uses things you probably have on hand, laundry detergent and water. You’ll apply the detergent directly to the stain, making it more effective than if you were to just throw it in your washer. Here’s how it’s done:


• Warm Water
• Laundry detergent
• Paper towels or rags
• Stain remover


1. Turn the item inside out.
2. Run warm water on the back of the stain from the opposite side—this helps force away the paint.
3. Blot stain from the front using a paper towel or rag.
4. Mix equal parts detergent and water (make enough to cover the stain).
5. Saturate the stain with this mixture.
6. Blot it with the paper towel or rag (DO NOT RUB).
7. Rinse again.
8. Repeat until you don’t see any more paint coming up on your paper towel (you may need to reapply the detergent).
9. Dry normally.

2. Ammonia and Vinegar Method

If you have the two household stand-bys of ammonia and vinegar around, this method's worth a try. These may even get the stain completely out before you wash it. Remember to never use ammonia with bleach, as this will create poisonous fumes. Follow these steps to get it done:


• 1 Cup of Ammonia
• 1 Cup of white vinegar
• Salt (handful)
• Lint-free cloth or sponge


1. Soak the garment in cold water for a few minutes.
2. While that's soaking, in a separate bowl or bucket, mix 1 cup of ammonia, 1 cup of white vinegar, and a handful of salt.
3. Wring out the garment and lay it flat.
4. Dip your lint-free cloth or sponge in the ammonia-salt-vinegar mixture and apply it to the stain.
5. Blot the stain vigorously, then rinse.
6. Repeat if needed.
7. Wash and dry normally.

3. Window Cleaner Method

Window cleaner usually has ammonia and alcohol in it, making it a handy substitute for pure ammonia. These components help break down the stains so they can be washed out easily. Here’s how to do it:


• Sponge
• Window cleaner
• Warm water


1. Spray the window cleaner onto your sponge.
2. Blot the stain, then rinse.
3. Repeat until no more paint comes up on the sponge.
4. Wash in machine.
5. Dry normally.

Removing Oil Paints From Fabric

1. Paint Thinner Method

This is the surest bet to remove oil paint, but it can be rough on clothes. For that reason, you’ll want to test a small amount of thinner in an inconspicuous area before attacking the entire stain. Take a look at how it’s done:


• Roll of paper towels or a lot of clean rags
• Paint thinner or turpentine
• Warm and hot water
• Dish detergent


1. Test first by blotting a corner of the fabric with the thinner to make sure it doesn't discolor the fabric.
2. Turn the garment inside out and place it on top of a bed of paper towels or rags.
3. Dip a rag or paper towel in the thinner, then blot the stain.
4. Keep at it until no more paint appears on your towel or rag.
5. Rinse the garment with warm water.
6. Squirt some dish detergent in a sink or bucket and fill it with hot water.
7. Place the garment in here and let it soak overnight to help dilute the paint thinner (you don’t want paint thinner in your washer).
8. Wash it as usual the next day, in the hottest water the fabric can take.
9. Dry normally.

2. Rubbing Alcohol, Hand Sanitizer, or Nail Polish Remover Method

If you don't have any turpentine or paint thinner on hand, try to remove the stain with rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. Alcohol-based hand sanitizer may also do the trick. Here’s how to get it done:


• Rubbing alcohol, hand sanitizer, or nail polish remover (preferably acetone-based).
• Paper towels or rags
• Warm water


1. Test the garment by blotting a hidden part with your chosen substance.
2. Blot the stain with the nail polish remover, sanitizer or hand sanitizer and a paper towel or rag .
3. Repeat until no more paint comes up when blotting.
4. Rinse with warm water.

5. Wash and dry normally.

With these methods, future inevitable paint stains should have no effect on the look of your workwear. Simply search under the sink or through cabinets in the garage to find the materials you’ll need to remove the stains and return your workwear back to a like-new state. But what if those inevitable paint stains were actually completely avoidable?

How Inevitable Splatters Become Avoidable Stains

While getting paint on your workwear may not be avoidable, those stains the paint leaves behind are. OilBlok Technology, offered exclusively by Red Kap, gives workwear unparalleled stain blocking power. This revolutionary workwear repels things like paint and oil, much like a raincoat repels water.

Available in sharp styles like polos or button-downs, you can outfit your whole team for a unified look. With workwear sporting OilBlok Technology, you and your team will always come to work looking professional and ready to give it 110%.