How to Get Gloss Paint Off Clothes

How to Get Gloss Paint Off Clothes

Whether you’re putting your own stamp on your new home or you’re giving your living room a bit of a refresh, paint stains on clothing are commonplace.

Even if you’re not the one doing the painting, it can be so easy to accidentally brush past wet paint, leaving you with ruined clothes, or so you may have thought…

At first, getting gloss paint on clothing or other surfaces like glass might seem like a disaster, but there are some really easy techniques to help you can get the stain out. But acting fast is going to yield the best results!

Type of Paint

Regardless of the type of paint that has ended up on your clothing, the steps are very similar.

Before you get started, however, it is important that you determine what type of paint you are dealing with. Paints that are water-based tend to be easier to deal with, whereas oil-based paints might need a little more work and elbow grease to remove.

Many modern glosses or emulsion paints are water-based, however, that isn’t a guarantee. If you check the paint’s packaging, you should be able to find out what the key ingredients in the paint are.

You might even find that the packaging has tips on how to remove stains caused by this specific paint – it is definitely worth checking for manufacturer instructions.


Important Considerations

Determine what material your clothing is made from – check the care label and it will tell you the fabric content.

If the paint has ended up on delicate fabrics, such as wool or silk, treating the stain needs to be done very carefully. It might be worth taking the garment to a professional rather than trying to clean it yourself.

If it is a material you feel comfortable tackling on your own, first make sure that you do a spot-test on an area of the clothing that won’t be seen. This is to ensure that the cleaning solutions you are going to use aren’t going to ruin your clothes further and create even more of a stain or mark.

This is especially important if you decide to use paint thinners such as white spirit or turpentine. Avoid using paint thinners on synthetic or delicate fabrics as they can strip the dye from the fabric or break down the fibres. These chemicals are safest when used on cotton.

Always dab the paint stain gently. Scrubbing or rubbing too vigorously can just make it spread and end up embedded deeper in the fabric.


Removing Water-Based Paint

Most household emulsions and gloss paints are water-based, which is good news! This type of paint is much easier to remove from clothing than oil-based paints are, but we will cover those next.

Scrape the Excess

Before you start with the elbow grease, scrape off as much of the paint as possible. Even something as simple as a spoon works perfectly for this. Removing all the excess paint that you can at this stage will make the rest of the process much easier!

Rinse with Warm Water

Turn the garment inside out and run warm water through the fabric over the reverse of the stain. This will help to push the pigments out of the other side of the fabric. You might even find that in gentle paints (and if you’ve caught the stain soon enough!), this might get rid of quite a lot of the marking too!


Mix a cup of cool water with a tablespoon of laundry detergent or washing up liquid. Dip a clean cloth into the solution and gently blot at the paint stain until you have removed the paint from the clothing, then, rinse the garment in cold water.

Stubborn Stains

If the stain is stubborn and the above steps haven’t removed the stain, you can also try either rubbing alcohol or a non-acetone nail varnish remover.

As above, blot the stain carefully with a clean cloth or cotton wool ball. Rinse the garment in cold water again.

You may want to place an old towel behind the paint stain before cleaning, to avoid transferring it to another part of your clothing.

Final Touches

Once you are satisfied the stain has been removed, wash the garment on your usual cycle and with your usual laundry detergent to remove any remaining traces of cleaning chemicals.

If you’ve gotten to the end of these steps and the paint stain is persisting, consider taking it to a professional for cleaning.


Removing Oil-Based Paint

If the gloss paint you are using is oil-based, you will want to tackle this stain as quickly as possible before it ends up deeply ingrained in your clothing.

Always check the packaging before making a start; many oil-based paints make recommendations as to how you can remove them, and it is likely to require a paint thinner such as turpentine or white spirit.

If the paint does need a chemical paint thinner, make sure you try to clean the stain outside or in a well-ventilated area as these chemicals tend to smell extraordinarily strong.

Scrape the Excess

Like with water-based paint, the first step should be to remove any excess paint that you can. The oil in this type of paint has a nasty habit of separating out and spreading, so you want to do this as quickly as possible.

Preventing Bleeding

Oil bleeding can be a real problem and preventing this is crucial. Turn the garment inside out and put paper towels against the stain to prevent the oils and cleaning solutions from bleeding through onto the opposite side.

White Spirit for Removing Paint from Clothes

Paint Thinners

Before cleaning a stain with a paint thinner, be sure to do a spot test. Some thinners may damage certain fabrics, either by removing the dyes or damaging the fibres.

Once you have determined the paint thinner will not damage the fabric, dip a clean rag into the paint thinner, and blot at the paint stain. You might need to swap back and forth between the two sides of the fabric to remove as much of the stain as possible.

Nail Polish Remover

If paint thinner isn’t appropriate or has left a residue behind, you can also attempt to clean the stain with either rubbing alcohol or nail varnish remover. Pour a little of the chemical over the stain and scrub the area gently with an old toothbrush.

Once you are satisfied the stain has been removed, wash the garment as normal and allow the garment to fully dry.

Nail varnish remover can also be pretty potent, so make sure to vent the area you’re working in to avoid inhaling too many fumes!