Painting your home can be a great relaxation and fun for DIYers.
Yes, it’s wonderful – until you spill some paint on your denim 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 black jeans with an ugly giant paint stain.
Are they really ruined, though?
Turns out, there are plenty of ways to get those dried house paint stains out of your pants to get them looking as good as new.
I will be discussing some of them over here…So, let’s tune in.
Getting Water-Based Paint Out from Denim
Water-based paints that are still wet are pretty simple to clean out of clothes when – all you need is warm water to wash them away in a bucket.
Occasionally, though, water is not enough to clean up old dried paint stains.
When that’s the case, you can safely wash your paint-stained clothing separately in the laundry and let your detergent do its job.
Using some isopropyl rubbing alcohol solution and scrubbing the paint with an old bristle toothbrush 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 at your nearby art store very easily.
Remember, 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.
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 of white paint always seems to make its way onto your favorite blue-black jeans and white t-shirt, no matter how careful you are.
When that happens, follow these tips to try and save your clothes.
1- Get Edgy: Spoons and credit cards
First, if there are clumps of paint dried onto your denim pants, try scraping away the excess until all that is left is the stain itself.
The easiest way to scrape away the dried enamel is using the edge of firm objects.
A plastic card or the edge of a spoon are good choices, almost always on hand. But a butter knife will work in a pinch as well.
Try to avoid sharp objects or ragged edges, 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 snag, rip or tear your blue jeans, you’ve just made a minor problem so much worse!
2- Paint Removers: Solvents can be a friend
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 fabric’s fibers.
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 denim pants.
What’s the best way to remove oil paint stains from denim? Oil solvent!
You can find oil solvents (like turpentine, paint thinner, acetone, WD-40, or your hairspray) at most online stores or supermarkets.
They are generally safer on the delicate cotton fibers of your pants than other paint removers.
- To apply the oil solvent, use a clean towel to dab the solvent onto the stain and scrub away in small, circular motions.
- Start at the edges of the stain and wipe towards the center to prevent the stain from spreading,
- Make sure to follow the directions on the product itself, too. And 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 enamel paint stain out of your blue-black pieces of denim.
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 will be painting—just in case.
That way, you can quickly fix the stain instead of spending precious time running back to the store.
3- Try Glycerin: After everything else tend to fail
Let’s say the oil solvent did not work, and you do not want to risk using chemical paint removers on your lucky pair of jeans.
An excellent option is a glycerin – depending on the fabric, it might help remove oil paint from clothes without using smelly paint thinner and other solvents.
Glycerin is a safe, natural byproduct of soap making and can be found in most stores.
The chemical properties of glycerin work well to dissolve oils and therefore lift the stain from your jeans if you apply a small amount and let it sit overnight.
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 in your denim color.
If the oil solvent and glycerine don’t seem to be working, you can try homemade paint remover or other commercial paint cleaners like Goo Gone and Goof Off.
But beware, some tend to be harsh on clothing and could create holes, especially if the fabric is not 100% cotton.
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!
This does not mean painting naked, as that could cause other problems.
Instead, paint only with painter’s pants (or old clothes) and shoes that you do not mind getting dirty.
This also means 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 job success.
Also, make sure you remember the tips for getting paint off jeans the next time you get crafty or decide to paint the house.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for over a decade serving customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, and Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.