How To Remove Paint Stains From Your Clothes

We all get excited when we finally commit to that DIY project that has been sitting, waiting to be started. We get sanding, crack open our paint tins and listen to music or latest podcast episode while we are in our element. When it’s finished, we are proud… until we look down to see our favourite pair of jeans or graphic T has paint EVERYWHERE. For those of you stressing about how to remove that oil or enamel based paint stains from your clothes, take a breath. We have you covered on what to do, you just need to act fast!

Remove Oil Based Stains

Step One

The first step requires you to take the affected clothing and assess the damage. Try to find any other specs or spots you didn’t notice in your excitement to complete your DIY! Once you have identified all the spots of oil paint, apply several pea sized drops of liquid dish soap onto the stain (or stains if you were enthusiastic with your paint strokes). Let it sit for a few minutes – maybe do a couple of lunges to get rid of your nervous energy around a stain on your favourite jeans. 

Now, using an old toothbrush, scrub the stain (or stains) in all directions – circular, up and down, side to side motions. Rinse and then assess how the stain looks. If it has mostly disappeared you can repeat this process to remove the remainder of the stain. However, if the stain is being stubborn, you can proceed to step two in order to remove the paint stain from your clothes. 

Step Two

This is where we get more serious to remove the paint stains, showing they have no place on your favourite shirt! Raid your cupboard or head to your local supermarket and get some hand sanitizer. Add several pea sized drops to the affected area and call in your reinforcement – your trusty toothbrush – and scrub the stain. Rinse and repeat as per step one, assess and evaluate. If you feel that paint stain is not getting the message then we can take it up a notch.

Step Three

Now, if you have come to this step then you are determined to win the war with this stain. The next method to remove oil based paint from your clothing is to find some rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. Place the clothing in a sink or bucket and pour the nail polish remover (or rubbing alcohol) over the stain. This should surely show it who’s boss.

Once again, scrub the affected area with the old toothbrush and rinse. Hopefully by this step, the oil paint stain has given in and left you with some very sterile clothing articles. But, on the odd occasion where there are still remnants of the stain remaining, you still have another level we can go to removing the stain. 

Step Four

In this approach, we use a bit of step two and step three to kick this stain to the curb. Create a solution in a small bowl that has equal parts hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol (or nail polish remover). Get a little bit personal with the stain by massaging the solution into the affected areas. 

In this step we are ditching our toothbrush for a butter knife. Once you have relaxed the stain with your massaging skills, use the butter knife to scrape the paint spot off. If you are overly excited for the victory against the oil based paint stain, you are most welcomed to dance it out – no judgement here. 

Step Five

This final step is the most simple of all – wash your clothes! Otherwise you will smell like a mixture of Morning Fresh and a distillery the next time you parade your stain free T or jeans down the main street.

Remove Enamel Based Stains

Believe it or not, enamel paint is actually an oil based paint. If you chose to be ambitious and use enamel paint for your DIY, it is great for painting metal but not so great when it gets on your clothes. Enamel can be the most difficult paint to get out of your clothes, but before you throw them into the rag pile try these steps first to remove paint stains!

Step One

As soon as you notice the stain – act fast! Hopefully you see the specs of paint just after or during your DIY. The longer the specs are there the more intertwined they get with the fibres of your clothes. You can begin the cleaning battle with the stain similarly to the above steps by adding several drops of dishwashing soap to the affected area. Let it sit for 10 minutes – make a cup of tea or pat the cat – then wash your clothing in a warm wash cycle in your washing machine.

Step Two

If the paint spec or splatter is still wet, you can raid your cupboard for turpentine. Add a few drops to the affected area and try rubbing or scrubbing with your old toothbrush. Proceed with caution when using turps – this is risky business! If you use too much at once, you can assign your T or jeans to the rag pile there and then. Slowly add more if you begin to see the stain lifting, and immediately rinse the article of clothing to prevent ruining it. 

Step Three

If you have washed your clothes after trying turps and dishwashing detergent, then you can resort to this attempt to remove the stubborn stain. Go to your cupboard where you have a menagerie of cleaning products, and pick out your oven cleaner – yes you read correctly, oven cleaner. Lay your clothing flat and spot spray the affected area (or areas because let’s be honest, there are always multiple specs). Let it sit for half an hour and then run it through another warm wash cycle.

If you have not won the war after trying these steps to remove paint stains from your clothes, then we may have to admit defeat on this one. However, if you happened to have succeeded in restoring your shirt or jeans – congratulations! Just don’t wear them while you do your next DIY, maybe find some designated clothes for that project. 


If having gone through the experience and stress of stain removal wars has completely put you off DIY painting, SAGE Painting has you covered! Contact our team who will be more than happy to take on your project and save your clothes from any more stains!