Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Water-Based or Oil-Based? Two Methods to Get Two Types of Paints Out of Jeans

how to remove paint from jeans custom graphic

tiny splatter that isn’t noticeable right away. What this does is give the paint more time to dry and really set into the fabric, making it harder to remove.

That said, the method one must use to get paint out of jeans will depend on the type of paint in question. If you are dealing with water-based paint like acrylic and latex, the possibility of removing the stain with just soap and water is fairly high (depending on how old the stain is), oil-based paints, on the other hand, pose more of a challenge to get out. 

Because there are different things to consider when removing paint from jeans, MaidForYou is sharing two appropriate stain-removal methods based on these varying factors. This ensures that you are able to remove the paint stain on your jeans successfully, as opposed to spreading it further and making it permanent! Even worse, using the wrong method can irreparably damage your denim material. 

So, let’s get right into them; here are the right ways to get paint out of jeans.

How to Remove Water-Based Paint from Jeans

women removing pink paint from blue jeans using a cotton bud

There are two types of water-based paints - acrylic and latex. As you would imagine, they don’t stick to fibres quite like their oil-based counterparts. Nevertheless, they are not like other types of common stains found on jeans, and therefore require a specific cleaning method to get out. 

For this, you will need to gather a few necessary items for the job, and follow our tried and tested cleaning method mentioned below.

What You’ll Need

  • Dishwashing liquid
  • Water
  • Old plastic container 
  • Paper towels
  • Non-serrated butter knife
  • Clean white cloths

Steps to Remove Acrylic/Latex Paint Stains on Jeans

While you may be tempted to try this simple method on oil paint stains, too, we advise against it because it could potentially spread the pigment. Instead, use this DIY cleaning method to get rid of water-based paint stains on jeans by following the steps below.

Step One: Blot or Scrap Off

For a fresh spill or splatter of paint on denim, use a paper towel to blot it so that some of the paint is absorbed and removed. If you are dealing with a blob or a particularly thick layer of wet paint, grab a few paper towels and try to ‘pick up’ the paint; follow this up by blotting with fresh paper towels after you have removed as much of the visible layer of paint as you could. 

When dealing with dried water-based paint on jeans, pinch the stain at different angles in an attempt to ‘crack’ the stain. When/if there are cuts in the paint, you can proceed to scrape off bits of it with a butter knife more easily. Regardless of this, one thing to keep in mind when scraping paint stains on denim is to do so gently. Do not force anything but rather, scrape the paint as long as bits are breaking off without too much pressure. 

Step Two: Pretreat the Stain

Note that if the stain is wet or damp, there is no need to pretreat it. For dry paint, on the other hand, simply dampen the stain with water to loosen its grip on the denim. Do this by soaking and wringing a clean, white washcloth in warm water, and then blot the stain with it. Do not oversaturate the material; the goal here is to simply soften the paint. Pretreating with plain water does the trick here because you are dealing with water-based paints.

Step Three: Clean with Soapy Solution

While most stains on jeans can be removed with mild cleaning solutions, preferably made with laundry detergent, to get rid of a paint stain, we recommended making a stronger solution consisting of dish soap (1 tablespoon), and warm water (½ cup). The active ingredients in dishwashing liquid help to break down acrylic and latex paints far better than laundry detergent

After making your DIY stain remover in a plastic container, dip a clean, white cloth into the solution and wring it; then gently rub the stain, starting from the outer edge, working your way inward. Avoid rubbing outside of the stain as you may end up spreading the colour once the stain has been dampened. If needed, use paper towels to soak up excess moisture, and continue cleaning the material until the stain has been removed. Rinse or wash the jeans to finish off.

How to Remove Oil-Based Paint from Jeans

bottle of unscented glycerin soap next to blue jeans that are soiled from white paint

Moving on to a slightly harder job, yet still possible, getting oil paint out of denim requires specific products that ensure a thorough, damage-free result. Below, we are sharing two different ways to remove an oil-based paint stain from your jeans depending on how fresh/old it is. 

Wet Stains

This method can also be used on dry stains, however, it is more effective at removing fresh oil paint from denim.

Here’s how to do it:

  • On a flat surface, lay down a plastic sheet or tarp, and place the jeans on top of it. 
  • To prevent the stain(s) from being transferred to any other part of the jeans, place a few, crushed paper towels under the stained area before moving on to the next step.
  • Pour a small amount of liquid glycerin onto a clean, white towel, and dab the stain a few times. The idea is to apply the product to the stain without saturating the material. Glycerin takes time to break down oil paint and therefore, must be left overnight, or for at least 8 - 10 hours, in order for it to work effectively. 
  • Next, dampen a fresh white cloth, and gently scrub whatever is left of the stain. By now, most of the paint should have dissolved, leaving just smaller patches that can be lifted with a damp cloth.
  • To finish off, flush out any remnants or residue from the paint by holding the material under running water. For this, warm or room temperature water will suffice. Leave the jeans to air-dry thereafter.

Dry Stains

It’s always worrying to find a dry oil paint stain on your jeans, however, with the right cleaning method, it can be easier to remove than most people think. 

Follow the steps below to effectively get dried oil paint out of denim:

  • Take a clean, white cloth, and dampen one end of it with turpentine or any paint thinner.
  • Dab the stain from the outside in; do this repeatedly to lift the stain off the denim. Be sure to use a fresh side of the cloth as and when needed or else you will run the risk of transferring colour back onto the material.
  • When the stain has been removed, machine-wash the jeans in room temperature water. 

IMPORTANT: Perform a colour-fastness test on a hidden part of your jeans before using a paint thinner on denim.

With a little patience and the right approach, you can get paint out of jeans irrespective of whether it is oil-based, water-based, wet, or dry! All you need to do is carefully follow the cleaning instructions shared in this article and your favourite pair of jeans can be saved from that unsightly paint stain!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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