Paint-Stained Clothing? This Common Ingredient Can Help In A Pinch

Imagine it's a sunny Saturday morning, perfect for that DIY paint project you've postponed over the last few weeks. You couldn't be more focused on breathing life into what's aged, yet no matter how calculated each brushstroke is, paint splatters seem to find their way onto your attire. The quest to remove paint stains from clothes begins with caution; too harsh a scrub and you risk the integrity of the fabric's fibers (alongside the stain). You may have heard about specialized products that can do wonders against such stains, but let's face it, who always has those on standby? Here, the household commoner, vinegar, swoops in to save the day.

Vinegar works its magic by loosening the paint's bond, letting it gently lift off your prized fabric. You'd readily award it gold stars for cost-effectiveness, reduced environmental impact, and ready availability. Yet, vinegar's paint-stain-removing prowess isn't without its Achilles' heel. For instance, a splotch of oil-based paint could hardly succumb to the solvent's charm, which brings us to identifying the nature of the unruly splatter adorning your garment. Grab a cotton pad or a cloth rag, dampen it with rubbing alcohol, and dab it lightly on the stain. Color transfer to the once-pristine cotton pad points toward a water-based culprit like acrylic or latex paint. Now, you can push ahead to reclaim your garment from rogue paint splatters. 

How do you get paint stains out of clothes using vinegar?

Caution must suffice as you embark on your first step to remove paint stains from clothes with vinegar: scraping. Grab a dull knife or a spoon; anything non-sharp will do. With the finesse of a poet penning a verse, scrape off the surplus paint without inducing the material's fury, then rinse with cold water. With the excess paint out of the way, summon the star of the show: vinegar. Pour a generous portion onto the paint stain, but watch your excitement. You want to restrict the solvent's flow from wandering off the stain borders and stirring mess elsewhere. Let the vinegar rest and soften the stubborn paint stain for easy removal.

10 minutes post-vinegar application, it's due time for the next stage in the paint versus vinegar saga. Wielding its acidic attributes, the vinegar would have taken a toll on the paint splatter. Scrubbing with a toothbrush now lends a helping hand, snatching the weakened stain out of the fabric. Caution: overzealous scrubbing can instigate collateral damage to the fabric's fibers. Then, rinse the garment strictly with cold water (hot water can play the traitor and firmly entrench the stain). If the stain proves resilient, another round of vinegar, possibly supplemented with good old baking soda or laundry detergent, should do the trick. Once the paint stain gets removed, launder your garment as usual, but skip the hot water.

Caveats for this paint-stained clothes hack

Vinegar often steps up as a substitute household liquid for removing paint stains from clothes. However, that's not the wise old sage for all fabrics — delicate ones like spandex in athletic clothes might suffer damage. Prudence dictates you conduct a pretest on a small section of the affected textile before going full throttle. Whatever you do, don't rub fresh paint— That's nothing short of playing into its agenda, helping it seep further. Instead, dab it. 

But what if vinegar doesn't tickle your fancy or think highly of your paint-stained garment? You are not without options. For a product specially formulated for stubborn stains, Tide Liquid Laundry Detergent from Walmart for $13 is a worthy contender. Meanwhile, the humble dish soap, paired with warm water, can triumph over fresh paint marks, while baking soda, hairspray, or isopropyl alcohol could prove formidable against the hardened paint. 

Handling the stubborn oil-based paint stains, though, is another game entirely. Here, bring out the big guns — a paint thinner or mineral spirit. Drench a cloth or sponge with solvent and blot the paint stain until it crumbles. Should soil paint stain hold out, launch your final assault by dousing it with a paint thinner and scrubbing it using a toothbrush. But don't send your garment on a victory lap through the dryer until your fabric is virtually spotless. The heat might cement residual paint, etching a lasting mark on your fabric, an unfortunate memoir of this stain-removal endeavor.