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How To Remove Paint Splatters And Rescue Your Clothes

We recently gave our front door a much-needed facelift, which included a new coat of cheerful yellow paint. My husband Dave volunteered to do the actual painting, which I gladly let him do. Since he was just painting one side of the door, he didn’t think he would need to change out of the clothes that he was already wearing (even though any sane person would know that’s just ASKING for trouble.) After he had finished painting, he unsurprisingly reported that he had splattered yellow paint on his favorite pair of shorts.

Being the generous and long-suffering wife that I am (at least in my own mind) I told him I would try to get the paint splatters out, and hopefully salvage the shorts. I will confess that I wasn’t holding out much hope, since I’ve found it almost impossible to remove paint from most clothing. But I figured it was worth doing a bit more research to try and find an effective solution. And to my delight, I did!

It turns out that you can use hand sanitizer to remove paint splatter from clothing. It sounds strange, I know, but the ethanol in the hand sanitizer acts as a solvent, helping to dissolve the paint and ultimately remove it from the fabric. With some hand sanitizer and a little elbow grease, I was able to salvage Dave’s beloved shorts. (Since the shorts were already clean when I decided to write a blog post about this method, we recreated the process using a collared shirt from the thrift store. I’m happy to report that it worked just as well the second time!)

How to Remove Paint Splatters from Clothing

You’ll need:


Lay your clothing item out on a flat surface. It’s much easier to scrub the splatters against a flat surface, versus holding it in your hands.

Apply a generous squirt of hand sanitizer to your old toothbrush, then work the hand sanitizer into the paint splatters. Scrub at the stains using small, circular motions, and the globs of paint will eventually start to loosen. Don’t be afraid to add more as needed. (If you’re worried, you can do a colorfast test in an inconspicuous spot on the garment before starting, but I haven’t had any problem with color coming out.)

Be patient and keep at it, adding more hand sanitizer to your toothbrush as needed. It may take a while for the paint to come out, but you want to ensure that the paint is removed completely before proceeding. For particularly stubborn paint, you can also add some rubbing alcohol as well. The two combined seem to be especially effective. Just keep in mind…this process DOES take some elbow grease.

When you’re finished scrubbing, wash and dry your item as usual. And while you’re doing that, maybe take a minute to designate some old clothes as your (or your husband’s) “painting outfit”, so you don’t have to repeat this process all over again after your next painting project. 😉

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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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