The Common Household Liquid That'll Banish Paint Stains From Clothes

Whether finger-painting with the kids, adding a new colorful accent wall, or finishing up an impressionist masterpiece — paint messes are inevitable. When removing paint stains from clothes, many assume the worst. However, one common household liquid can effectively tackle this daunting task: hydrogen peroxide. This versatile and non-toxic solution is easy and accessible — you might even have some in your home right now.

Before you start, determine if the paint is water or oil-based, as the removal process will vary based on that. For oil-based paints, pre-treatment with a solvent like turpentine is recommended before applying hydrogen peroxide, as it helps break down the oily components. However, for water-based paints, like acrylic or latex, hydrogen peroxide is a powerful antidote. H2O2 is a mild antiseptic and bleaching agent, able to break down the molecules in paint stains, as per Hello Homestead, essentially "dissolving" the color and lifting the stain.

The key to treating a paint stain is to act fast — it will be easier to remove. All you need to banish the paint stains from your clothes is a 3% solution of hydrogen peroxide, a paint scraper, a clean cloth, and protective gloves, especially if you have sensitive skin. Before applying hydrogen peroxide to your clothes, test it on a small area of the fabric to ensure it doesn't affect the color. During this cleaning process, avoid mixing hydrogen peroxide with vinegar as it creates dangerous peracetic acid — and won't help with the stain, as per the Missouri Poison Center.

How to remove water-based paint stains with hydrogen peroxide

For fresh paint stains, scrape off any excess paint before the hydrogen peroxide treatment. Now is when the household liquid comes into play. Dab or spray a small amount of 3% hydrogen peroxide directly onto the stain, and allow it to sit and absorb for about 10 minutes. While doing that, ensure good ventilation in the space, as the smell of hydrogen peroxide can be pretty intense. The hydrogen peroxide will soften the paint, which can then be gently scraped off using a paint scraper. Be careful not to spread the stain further or damage the fabric.

Afterward, apply some warm water to the area to clear it out and gently blot it with a clean cloth to absorb any loosened paint. Avoid rubbing because that can embed the paint deeper into the fabric. Once most of the paint has been removed, wash the garment according to its label instructions — laundry detergent should help finish the job. If the stain persists, repeat the treatment before drying. Avoid using an electric dryer as the heat can set any remaining paint; instead, air dry the garment after the wash to ensure the stain is completely gone. The key to effective stain removal is promptness and patience. With some hydrogen peroxide at your disposal, those paint stains don't stand a chance!