How to Get Paint Off of a Pair of Jeans

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Things You'll Need

  • Heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent

  • Washing machine or sink

  • Sponge

  • White vinegar

  • Ammonia

  • Salt

  • Petroleum-based solvent

  • Liquid fabric softener


Always check the label for washing directions. Hot water can cause jeans to shrink. If even a little bit of shrinkage could keep your jeans from fitting you properly, use warm water instead of hot.

Don't wait until the paint is dry before treating the stain.

The durability and comfort of jeans make them ideal work pants, but if you wear your jeans after work as well, you can't afford to get paint stains on them. It's best to treat the stains as soon as possible. There's no guarantee that paint stains will come off completely, but there are a few techniques that can help you keep your jeans clean for any occasion.


Water-Based Paint

Step 1

Determine the base of the paint. Latex paint, which is commonly used for painting interior and exterior walls, is water based. Art paints, including watercolors, acrylics and poster paint, are also water based. Oil-based paints are used for painting houses, but many art paints are oil based as well. Spray paint is a little different because it is made up of solvents and propellant chemicals along with paint pigment.

Step 2

If the stain was caused by latex paint, soak the jeans in cold water while the paint is is still wet. Wash in cool water with a heavy-duty detergent once the excess paint has been soaked away. If the paint has dried, wash the jeans in hot water with a heavy-duty detergent. Rinse in cool water. Repeat until the stain fades away. Wash and dry the jeans as you normally would.


Step 3

To remove acrylic paint, mix salt, white vinegar and ammonia into a bowl. Add one part water to every three parts of the mixture. Apply it to the fabric with a sponge and gently scrub the paint off. Rinse the sponge frequently and continue scrubbing until the paint is completely removed. Wash and dry the jeans as you normally would.

Step 4

For watercolor paints, rinse as much of the paint off as possible with cool water. Mix one part rubbing alcohol with two parts of water and lightly rub the stain with a sponge. Wash and dry the jeans as usual.

Oil Paint and Spray Paint

Step 1

Pre-treat oil-paint stains by rubbing a small amount of heavy-duty liquid laundry detergent or a petroleum-based solvent directly into the stain. Let it sit for one minute.


Step 2

Wash the jeans in hot water. Wash and dry the jeans again as you normally would.

Step 3

To remove spray paint, treat the stain immediately. Gently scrub the detergent directly into the fabric. Wash as usual, but include liquid fabric softener, which can help break down the stain.


references & resources

Megan Robb

Megan Robb has been writing professionally since 2007. She loves art and literature, as well as volunteering for her local animal shelter. Megan's work has been featured on, "The Bushwick Review," and, as well as her own blog, Megan Robb: Writer Extraordinaire. She currently lives in Raleigh, N.C.