Does Acrylic Paint Wash Off Clothes? (Helpful Guide)

You can hide a multitude of sins when you paint an object. Or you can create something beautiful like a landscape, etc when you use different types of paint. You can be happy with your results until you look at your clothes.

Does acrylic paint wash off clothes? It can but only if it is still wet when you wash those acrylic paint covered clothing items. That means if you are adding a painted decorative touch to an article of clothing you need to let it dry first before washing.

To get caught up on acrylic paint and its issues just continue to read our article. It’s filled with the information you need to read before you make bad promises to friends and loved ones.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric?

Yes, you can. One thing about many different paints, including acrylic, is that it will cover your fabrics with ease. Just like it was covering drywall in your house. But there is a twist when you want to use acrylic paint as a decorative feature on your sewing project.

You need to mix the acrylic paint with a textile medium and then use heat to help it dry quickly and set up fast. But before you do that, you should pre-wash the fabric first or the shrinkage may ruin your design.

Also, you don’t need to apply a thick coat of paint to get the job done. The drying is the most important aspect that keeps the pain from coming off in the wash. You can check this website to see if you can get the right textile medium to add to your acrylic paint color. It’s not supposed to change the color of the paint when added in.

Then you may need to wait about 24 hours for the paint to dry before attempting to wash your fabric canvas.

How to Wash Hand Painted Clothes


First off, make sure you have used, or the designer used high quality paint when they painted the clothes. This is essential as the quality of the paint does influence how your clothes turn out after a good washing.

Second, when it comes time to wash these unique articles of clothing, you should turn them inside out first. This helps protect the clothing and the decorative paint from the rough agitator treatment and scraping against other clothing items in the same wash load.

Third, you need to use cold water and a mild detergent. One laundry item you do not use is fabric softener as this additive will eat the paint and ruin the look of your painted fabric.

Washing is not the only duty you have to perform. To make sure these pretty clothes remain in top shape, do not dry them in a dryer. Instead, either lay them out flat or hang dry them.

This is a simple but safe way to wash hand painted clothing items. Of course, if you are still worried about the treatment they will receive in your washer, you can hand wash each one to make sure they are not ruined.

Will Acrylic Paint Wash Off of Fabric?

When acrylic paint is an unwanted piece of decoration, then yes it will wash off your clothes. But that cleaning needs to be done when the acrylic paint is still wet. Or you can do it over time using fabric softener and repeated washing.

But if the acrylic paint design is wanted and looking good, then it may not washout if you follow the right steps. First, you need to add an acrylic fabric medium to the acrylic paint.

This additive turns the acrylic paint into a fabric paint. This alteration to the chemical balance lets the acrylic paint avoid hardening your painted fabric. In other words, your clothing item remains nice and soft.

But this is not the only step you have to take to keep that painted design on your favorite blouse or dress. You need to heat set the paint in a well-ventilated area. It does come with some harsh chemicals so you need to be careful.

Also, this is not for children to use. Once you have completed those steps, your design should be permanent and not wash off. Just remember to not use fabric softener when you wash these clothing items.

Paint That Can be Washed


There are a number of varieties of paints you can use on fabrics available today. Normally, fabric paint is just acrylic paint mixed with a textile medium. With the proper application you can wash these acrylic decorated fabrics with ease.

Plus, you can use different styles of paint, such as— sheer, translucent paints, opaque paints, metallic, interference and pearlescent paints- that when dried can be washed. Although we would recommend that you read the cleaning instructions carefully to make sure you know what to do.

There are a lot of manufacturers of textile paint that you can contact to make sure that their brand is really colorfast and can handle machine washing. They are Plaid, Jacquard’s Textile, Neopaque, and Umiere paints as well as Dr. Ph Martin’s Ready Tex paint.

Each brand will have its only quality of style and level of application. Remember that it takes a high level of quality for the paint to remain on your fabric. Cheaper paints may be easy on the pocketbook but they are not always long lasting.

Is Acrylic Paint on Fabric Permanent?

Technically, nothing is really permanent but acrylic certainly tries to achieve that goal. When you dry acrylic paint properly it tends to last you a long time. It should not wash off or wear off when you add the textile medium.

If you don’t add that medium, then the acrylic paint hardens the fabric and makes the clothing item very uncomfortable to wear. After some use the paint will crack and chip off as well as wear off.

Yet even though you add the proper textile medium to acrylic paint, the paint still has some enemies that ruins it while taking it off your fabric. Fabric softener is one such enemy. As are cleaning chemicals that are designed to remove paint.

Turpentine is another enemy of acrylic paint and you should be careful where you wear your hand painted shirt, etc. As you never know what else can spoil its look. Any alcohol based product can also ruin the permanent factor that comes with acrylic paint.

So while acrylic paint with a medium additive is basically a permanent application it does have its weaknesses. Just be cautious where you wear your hand painted clothing and watch the activities you do.

How to Make Acrylic Paint on Fabric Permanent


As you know getting a permanent hand painted design on your clothing items takes a little work. And just painting acrylic paint on by itself is not going to do the trick. You need to follow the process that turns acrylic paint into a permanent paint.

Acrylic paint on its own is not strong enough to handle the permanency application. Like other paints it comes with too many enemies that help wipe it off like it was never there.

There are two keys to making acrylic paint designs permanent when applied to fabric. The first is to use a textile medium. Without this acrylic paint remains regular paint. While it will still cover the fabric like all paints do, it can be treated and removed.

After adding the correct medium you need, and make sure to follow the instructions carefully, you still need the other key element to make everything permanent. You have to heat dry it correctly so the paint and the medium bond with the fabric properly.

Then even after doing the heat dry correctly, you should wait about a week before washing it for the first time. Time is a good element when you are looking for a permanent application.

What Removes Acrylic Paint From Fabric

One agent that we have already talked about is fabric softener. This chemical laundry additive seems to eat acrylic paint when the two come in contact with each other. When you wash your permanent acrylic designed fabric, do not use fabric softener.

Then alcohol based products like nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol and even alcohol based hairsprays will do the trick. Now if your acrylic paint is still wet, water is its biggest enemy.

Pour some water over the painted area and let it soak in for a bit. Flush the paint with water and the acrylic should disappear. Or you can toss the water soaked acrylic paint blouse, etc., into your washing machine and let it handle the wet paint.

Don’t forget to add a strong detergent when washing the wet acrylic paint stained clothing item. A mild detergent may not do the trick for you.

What is The Best Acrylic Paint for Fabric?


To get the best acrylic paint for your fabric design projects you want to go with a brand name. These options usually bring you the highest quality of acrylic paint you can buy.

You don’t want to use low quality paints as those may not have the longevity you are looking for. In no particular order, here are some of the top brands you should consider when shopping for a good acrylic paint to use:

Winsor and Newton, Liquitex, Sennelier, Golden Artists, Golden’s Open, M. Graham & Co., Chroma Atelier Interactive, Daler-Rowney, Matisse, Utrecht and Plaid.

Now each of these brands have a variety of paints that work for specific applications like backgrounds or if they are best for beginners. It is up to you to do some specific research to make sure the paints you buy are the best for you and your designs.

What Paint Can I Use On Fabric?

For best results you want to use an acrylic paint mixed with a fabric medium. This is by far the best quality of paint you can use. But if you do not want to use acrylic, you can find a variety of paints that work well on fabric.

The trick is to make sure they are top quality paints and not mixed with cheap ingredients that will wear or wash off over time. As mentioned earlier, you can find good paints in these different styles- sheer, translucent paints, opaque paints, metallic, interference and pearlescent paints.

Or if you want, you can use, fabric markers, fabric spray paints, dimensional fabric paint, and other options. Your use will depend a lot on your preferences and the look you want.

The paint you use will also depend on the fabric you are wanting to paint.

Is Fabric Paint Different Than Acrylic?


When you add a textile medium acrylic paint is fabric paint. While there are other varieties, acrylic paint is the one most associated with fabric paint. Yet not all acrylic paints are the same.

When you are going for a specific look, you may need to use a thinner acrylic paint or you may have to have a thicker version of the paint to handle the job at hand. What you also need to remember is that all fabric paints are not made for all fabrics.

Some have very specific types of fabrics that they will work on. This means that when you go to the store, you just don’t pickup a bottle that says fabric paint and bring it home.

You need to read the label to make sure it is the paint for your particular piece of textile. Acrylic seems to be universal in application which provides a good reason for its close association with fabric paint.

Acrylic or Fabric Paint for Jeans

This is really not a hard choice to make given what is known about acrylic paint and its use on fabrics. If you are going to use non acrylic fabric paint on your jeans, you have to make sure that paint is designed to work on denim.

If it isn’t, then you have wasted a lot of money or time and need to go back to the store and get your money back. Or exchange it for a fabric paint that will work on denim.

Acrylic paint with the textile medium added, should give you the texture you want while removing that fabric hardening element that comes with normal acrylic paint. Also, acrylic paint seems to have a universal application so painting denim should not be outside of its boundaries.

Plus, when heat dried, the acrylic paint should become permanent and easily washed. That makes using this style of fabric paint better than the other versions.

Does Acrylic Paint Stain Fabric?


If used improperly then yes it can stain fabric. That stain usually comes when you do not clean it off when it is still wet. Once a drop gets on your clothes, not the one you are painting but the ones you are wearing, you need to stop painting and use water to remove the paint.

If you don’t, then you will have a big paint stain where you do not want one. Also, if you wait till it dries and you use an alcohol based cleaner or even turpentine to get the stain out, you will probably ruin your clothing and have to buy new ones.

One way to remove the acrylic paint stain is to do what we have said several times not to do. Put the clothing in your washing machine and add fabric softener. This additive should eat the paint away and hopefully leave your fabric looking like it did before you let the acrylic paint stain it.

How do You Apply Acrylic Paint to Fabric

The best painting tool you can use is a foam or soft bristle paint brush. These tools give you that nice painting texture and if you have good brush strokes, you should be able to enhance your design immensely.

Other tools you can use is a sponge for a pressed on look, a foam roller though it should be a very small one. Or you can use an airbrush and spray the paint on your fabric.

But that is not all the tools you can use. The sky is the limit on the tools as even a knife can apply the paint the way you want it to look. It all depends on your creativity and how you want your design and fabric to look.

Some Final Words

Decorating old fabrics so they look new, hip or even cool is not going to be that hard. If you are a beginner, you should start out with a good acrylic paint. It is easy to use and you get a lot of colors to choose from.

The key is to make sure you mix it with the right textile medium. This medium keeps the paint from hardening your fabric while making sure your design lasts a long time.

Just take your time and make sure you have the right paint for the fabric you are using. You shouldn’t go wrong with using acrylic paint. If you use it correctly.

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