Skip to content
Drop in on Dr. Laundry

Dr Laundry Blog

How do you get paint out of pants?

By Dr. Laundry January 8, 2016

  Q: How do you get paint out of pants?   A: Paint stains vary in difficulty of removal based on the wide variety of paint out there.  From washable children’s craft paint (easiest) to latex wall paint (not too bad if you can get to it right away before it dries) to artist’s acrylics (one of the reasons why artists wear smocks) these stains are all challenging to different degrees.  Since I don’t know what type of paint stain you’ve got, here are a few suggestions you can try in the future, especially if this is a recurring problem.   –scrape away as much wet paint as possible to reduce the amount of material you need to remove. –rinse the stain with a little warm water from the back (if possible) to prevent paint from getting rinsed into the fabric instead of away from it.  Rinsing from the back isn’t always possible–pant legs for example–but it’s always a good goal. –Pretreat:  apply liquid laundry detergent directly to the stain and rub it in, saturating the stain, and then rinse with warm water. –repeat the pretreating and rinsing step until the stain is all the way out.  Paints labeled washable should come out right away, while latex paint may need a few treatments.  Even fresh acrylic paint stains can come out with 3 or 4 pretreatments and rinses, but you do need to get to it immediately.   Of course you may have a dried on paint stain you need to deal with.  If it’s washable children’s paint, you can still try the above; just expect to repeat the treatment a few times instead of just once.  Dried wall paint and acrylic paints are permanent once they dry because they become insoluble in water; I’m sorry if that’s the situation you are in!  Unfortunately, solvents that could dissolve paint on hard surfaces shouldn’t be used on fabrics that will end up in a clothes washer.  Clothes washer and dryer manufacturers don’t want fabrics with solvents (acetone, paint thinner, etc.) on them going into their appliances due to a serious risk of spontaneous combustion.  They actually put warning on the appliances and in the user’s guide about this.   I hope this information is useful. Please let me know if you have any other questions, and thanks for writing!   –Dr. Laundry