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How to Get Paint Out of Clothes With Bleach

Does bleach remove paint from clothes? Learn how to get paint stains out of clothes, jeans, and other fabrics with bleach including tempera and dried paint.

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I got paint on a favorite T doing earth day activities with my kindergarteners! I’ve tried all my tricks but it still shows. It was just tempera!


Paint is generally difficult to remove from fabric, but it’s not necessarily impossible.  The sooner you can get to the stain and rinse it before pretreating and washing the better.  Keeping it out of a hot dryer while you work on it is also important.  And of course the type of tempera paint makes a difference.   According to the staff at my local art supply store (that serves our local art college) there is a wide range in the quality of different tempera paints.  Tempera contains colorant in pigment form, which doesn’t dissolve in water.  It also contains a binder of some sort to help the colorant adhere to the paper (or whatever medium is being painted).  Higher quality paints have a heavy pigment load (so more concentrated) and stronger, more effective binders to better approximate the appearance of oil based paints and acrylics.  Tempera that is actually labeled as washable should have a much lower pigment concentration, and, since it is water-based, should be easier to wash away.  But here’s something else interesting that I learned:  according to the art store staff, while even their higher quality tempera is technically considered washable, the color also makes a difference, with red shades nearly impossible to wash out.  So I wonder what quality of paint you were working with, and what color.

Something labeled for children’s use and described as “washable” should be removable if you pretreat it with a little liquid laundry detergent before washing.  It would also be helpful if it doesn’t dry out on the fabric before you start to work on it.

Since what you have already tried has not been successful, then you may be working with a higher quality of paint, or red paint, or maybe the stain dried out before you started working on it. The next thing to try is pretreating with hand sanitizer by applying a little to the stain and rubbing it in. Let it stand for 5 minutes, then pretreat again with Clorox 2® For Colors Stain Remover and Laundry Additive before washing with detergent and a little more Clorox 2®.

A lot is dependent here on the quality of your paint.  If it is labeled for children and washable, your chances of success are improved.  But if it is has a higher pigment load and a high quality binder, then this is a real challenge; expect to repeat the treatment a few times and hopefully you will be successful.