How to Remove Dried House Paint Stains From Jeans?

how to get paint off jeans

Painting your home can be such a great form of relaxation and fun for DIYers.

Yes, painting is wonderful. Until you spill some on your pants after a home repaint…

First comes disbelief, Did that really just happen?

Then comes reaction, Maybe I can just wipe it off with my finger real quick!

Finally comes the sinking realization that you just ruined your favorite pair of painter’s jeans with a great big giant paint stain.

Are they really ruined, though?

Turns out, there are plenty of ways to get those house paint stains out of your pants to get them looking as good as new.

We will be discussing some of them over here…


Tips for Removing Water-Based Paint Stains from Clothes


Water-based paints are pretty simple to clean out of clothes. After all, they’re water-based.

Compared to oil paints, cleaning up acrylic paint stains is a thousand times easier when all you need is warm water to wash it away.

Occasionally, though, water is not enough.

When that is the case, you can safely wash your paint-stained clothing separately in the laundry and let your detergent do its job OR scrub at the paint with an old bristle toothbrush.

Using some isopropyl rubbing alcohol solution can help if you feel the dried paint is getting hard to remove.

Sometimes, if the stains are not very significant, simply using a fabric pen or a marker can help to cover them up.

You can find a pen with a color that matches closely with the paint stain. Most of them you can get at your nearby art store.

These tricks will usually work for dried latex, acrylic, emulsion, milk, chalk, or any other water-based paint stains.

Oil-based paints, though, are an entirely different matter.

And that is what the rest of this article will focus on.

how to get paint off of denim and t-shirt

Tips for Removing Oil Based Paint Stains from Your Jeans


Oil-based house paints can be messy. Very messy. Not to mention smelly.

Most painters do their due diligence to avoid getting oil paint anywhere other than on the wall by using painting sheets.

However, a drop or two always seems to make its way onto someone’s favorite jeans.

When that happens, follow these tips to try and save your clothes.

1- Get Edgy: Spoons, Credit Cards, and Other Edges

First, if there are clumps of paint dried onto your pants, try scraping away the excess until all that is left is the stain itself.

The easiest way to scrape the dried enamel or oil paint away is by using the edge of firm objects—a plastic card or the edge of a spoon are good choices that are almost always on hand.

A butter knife will work in a pinch as well.

Try to avoid sharp objects or ragged edges that could snag or tear your white painter’s clothes such as sharp knives or even the teeth of keys.

The last thing you want to do is cause even more damage to your pants—if you rip or tear your blue jeans, you’ve just made a minor problem so much worse!

2- Paint Removers and Oil Solvents

Now that you have the clumps of paint removed, next you need to tackle the stain itself.

Paint stains form because the oils in the spray paint adhere and soak into the fibers of the fabric.

So, when you are trying to remove a stain, what you are actually trying to do is separate the oil from the fibers of your pants.

What’s the best way to remove oil? Oil solvent!

You can find oil solvents (like Turpentine, WD-40, or your hairspray) at most of the online stores or supermarkets and they are generally safer on the delicate cotton fibers of your pants than paint remover.

When it comes to using oil solvent, the sooner you attack the stain, the better, so it might be good to buy a bottle beforehand if you know you are going to be painting—just in case.

That way, you can quickly fix the stain instead of spending precious time running back to the store.

How to use an oil solvent?

To apply the oil solvent, use a clean towel to dab the solvent onto the stain and scrub away in small, circular motions.

Make sure to follow the directions on the product itself, too. In order to prevent the stain from spreading, start at the edges of the stain and wipe towards the center.

If the oil solvent doesn’t seem to be working, you can try homemade paint remover.

But beware, some of them tend to be harsh on clothing and could create holes, especially if the fabric is not 100% cotton.

Best to test it out in a hard to notice spots first before spreading it onto your pants.

Another option if the oil solvent does not work with a towel is to try a toothbrush (not the one you use regularly, though! Make sure to use a different one!).

Oftentimes, the bristles of the toothbrush will work a little more aggressively than a towel to get the stain out of your blue-black pieces of denim.

3- Try Glycerin

Let’s say the oil solvent did not work and you do not want to risk using paint remover on your lucky pair of jeans.

Another option, after everything else fails, is glycerin.

The chemical properties of glycerin work well to dissolve oils and therefore lift the stain from your pants if you apply a small amount and let it sit overnight.

Glycerin is a safe, natural byproduct of soap making and can be found in most stores.

Like paint thinner, though, it is always best to try it out on a hidden part of your clothing, like inside the beltline, to make sure it does not cause any discoloration before applying it to your stain.

Is It Safe to Use Acetone on Denim?

Acetone is a powerful chemical that can leave stains on denim and other fabrics if you try to use them for paint removal.

However, if the enamel paint (or stains due to fingernail polish, Super Glue, etc) is too stubborn to get off of your favorite pair of blue jeans, you can try using this stuff.

But, before you get into action and apply acetone on the stained area, test the cloth.

Dampen a paper towel with acetone and dab it on an inconspicuous area (like under the jeans).

If it does not damage the color of your denim, you are good to proceed and treat the stain with acetone.


Prevention is the Best Strategy When You Repaint Your Home


At the end of the day, the best way to get stains out of your shirt, jacket, jeans, and sneakers is not to wear them when you paint your room or an entire home!

This does not mean to paint naked, as that could cause other problems.

Instead, paint only with old clothes and shoes that you do not mind getting dirty.

This also means that you should NEVER spray paint with delicate fabrics (like wool, silk, and velvet).

After all, having one pair of “painting” pants that are covered in different vibrant colors of paint can be extremely unique and fun!

As long as they aren’t the pants you use to go out on the weekends.

If you can’t spare a set of “painting” clothes, try wearing a thick apron to shield your clothes from rogue paint splatter and use painting sheets liberally.

The bottom line

House repainting is a fun DIY project for many homeowners.

But getting puffy paint stains on your t-shirts, denim trousers, cotton shorts, leggings, or other clothing can be annoying; if you don’t know what to do about them.

Keeping all the above-mentioned cleaning products on hand can help you tackle stains as soon as they happen—increasing your chances of success.

So, make sure you remember these paint removal tips for jeans, the next time you get crafty or decide to paint the house.

I bet your painter’s clothes and fabric shoes will thank you.

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