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Ask Dr. Laundry

Ask Dr. Laundry

Spray Paint Stains

By Dr. Laundry October 20, 2009

Q. I got metallic beige spray paint on a cotton dress. What can I do to remove it?

A. May not have good news for you. Once the paint has dried on the dress, you must now find a solvent to re-dissolve the paint without damaging/removing the dye from the dress. You will need to do some detective work to find the right solvent. Try paint thinner, acetone or GooGone. You will need to test each on a hidden area like seam or hem to insure it’s safe to use without removing the dye. Apply a drop on the hidden area, wait 1-2 minutes, then blot with a towel. If no color transfer occurs, then you should be able to apply whichever solvent works. Apply the solvent to a fresh towel and dab it on the paint; using another clean towel, transfer any dissolved paint from the dress to the towel. Keep applying and removing to a fresh towel until the entire stain is removed. When completed, use some liquid detergent to treat the area (apply, rub in), and then wash in the hottest water recommended on the care label with detergent. I probably would air dry rather than risk any residual solvent fumes in the hot dryer.