This is a guide covering how to remove acrylic paint.
We’ll be covering the following topics (click on a bullet point to jump to that section):
What is Acrylic Paint Made Of?
Knowing how to remove acrylic paint starts with knowing what it is made up of. Acrylic paint is a quick-drying paint composed of three main elements: pigment, binder, and a vehicle.
As one of the most popular types of paint worldwide, acrylic paint is cherished for its durability and variety of uses.
However, because of its chemical base, it can be slightly alarming if you have the acrylic painting on something, and then decide you need to remove it!
Pigments are the color particles that are suspended in the paint and give the paint its vibrant hue.
The binder is the material that keeps the pigments in place once the paint has dried; in acrylic paint, this is an acrylic polymer. It creates a film after the water has evaporated and the paint has dried, adhering the pigments to the surface it’s applied to.
Finally, the third element of acrylic paint is the vehicle, which carries the pigment and binder. For water-based acrylics, the vehicle is (of course) water, which creates a polymer emulsion when mixed with the binder.
Thankfully, because acrylic paints are usually water-based, they are fairly easy to clean up with a few smart tricks.
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wood?
The best way to remove acrylic paint from wood is when it’s still wet.
If the paint hasn’t dried yet, follow these steps to easily remove the unwanted paint:
- Create a mixture of warm water and soap until it forms a lather
- Dip a rag or cloth into the soapy water
- Wipe the acrylic paint off the wood with the wet cloth or rag
- Use the soapy water to wash off any residue
- Wipe the clean surface with a dry towel or cloth to remove the excess water and any remaining paint residue.
If the acrylic paint you want to remove is already dried, follow these steps:
- Apply vegetable oil to the dry paint you want to remove.
- Rub the oil gently with a paper towel, making sure that it covers the whole area of paint you are trying to remove.
- Leave the oil on the paint and let it soften for about fifteen minutes.
- Once the oil has soaked into the dried acrylic paint, scrape it off using a paint scraper. Be careful to apply light pressure so that you only take off the paint, and not any varnish or coating on the wood.
- Use a damp cloth or rag to wipe off all remaining traces of oil and/or paint.
- If this doesn’t remove all the acrylic paint on the first try, repeat this process until you achieve the desired result.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from wood, we recommend checking out this video by Kaytie Plante:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Clothes?
- Remove any excess paint without smudging it. A good way of doing this is to use a wet cloth to dab it off, or a cotton tip, depending on how much paint is on the item of clothing.
- Keep the paint wet until you can wash your clothing. Either soak it in water, or run some water over the paint stains.
- Put your clothing in the wash with detergent, and use the coolest setting possible. Washing with warm or hot water may heat-set the stain.
If the stains on your clothes are already dried, they likely won’t come out in the wash.
In that case, you can use some of the following tips to remove acrylic paint from your clothes:
- Use Hairspray: completely soak the paint-stained area with hairspray, which will soften the paint. Once it is soft, you can scrape and wipe it off with a cloth. Then rinse with water and put the garment in the wash.
- Use Nail Polish Remover: apply some acetone with a cloth or cotton tip to the stained area, holding it on the stain for a few minutes to help it break down the paint. Once it is loose, scrape off the bits of paint, the rinse off the acetone and put the clothing in the wash.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from clothing, we recommend checking out this video by From The Shore:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Canvas?
- Use a solvent if you want to remove acrylic paint from canvas, whether it is a small area of paint or the whole picture. This could be turpentine, mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol. Be sure to work in a well ventilated area, and use protective gloves and glasses.
- Soak a clean rag, cotton ball or cotton tip with the solvent you are using, and use this to soak the area of paint you want to remove.
- Let the solvent soak into the paint for around 30 minutes, then scrape off the unwanted paint with a putty knife or an old toothbrush.
- Wipe the scraped area with the rag/cotton ball/cotton tip again to remove any remaining traces of acrylic paint.
- Repeat this process until you have removed all the paint you require.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from canvas, we recommend checking out this video:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Glass?
- Fill up a glass, cup or dish with white vinegar, then bring it to a boil on the stove or in the microwave.
- Using gloves to protect your hands from the heat, dip a rag or cloth into the vinegar then rub it onto the paint spattered glass you want to clean.
- The vinegar should break down the paint and remove it with one or two repetitions of this process. However, if there is still paint that won’t come off, you can use a bucket of warm soapy water to soak the glass that has paint on it.
- Once you have applied the sudsy water to the glass, use a razor blade (a sharp one!) at 45 degrees to the window to slowly scrape the paint away. Always move the blade in one direction, not back and forth, so you don’t scratch the glass.
- Once the paint is removed, spray down the glass with glass cleaner and a dry cloth to buff out any streaks.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from glass, we recommend checking out this video by Truly Tart:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Wall?
- Apply some rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, to the area of paint you want to remove. This works well if you are only wanting to remove a small area, like paint spatter. However, if you want to remove acrylic paint from an entire wall, it is best to use a paint stripper.
- Rub the alcohol into the paint, applying some pressure, until the acrylic paint starts to come loose.
- Gently wipe off the excess acrylic paint with a warm, damp and clean cloth.
- Depending on what type of paint is underneath the acrylic you are trying to remove, some of this may also come away in the process. In this case, it may be necessary to sand and repaint the area once it has dried.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from walls, we recommend checking out this video by Meredith Idleman:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Skin?
If the paint is still wet, it will wash off easily as most acrylic paints are water-based. If the paint has dried on your skin, however, there are other ways to remove it.
- Squeeze a good amount of baby oil onto the area of skin covered in paint.
- Rub it in with your fingers, using your nails to break up the paint and scrape it off.
- Apply a small amount of rubbing or isopropyl alcohol to a cotton ball
- Dab the cotton ball onto the paint that is still on your skin, if any.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from skin, we recommend checking out this video:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Paper?
- Apply a solvent to a cotton tip – use turpentine, mineral spirits or rubbing alcohol.
- Once the tip is soaked, use gentle but firm circular motions to loosen the acrylic paint on the paper you want to remove it from.
- Once the paint is thinned and wet, you can wipe it off the paper using a damp cloth.
- Wait for the paper to dry again before painting over it with a different color, or using a different medium.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from paper, we recommend checking out this video:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Plastic?
- Wipe off as much wet paint as possible using a paper towel or cloth, If using a cloth, be sure to wash off the paint as soon as you have wiped it, so you don’t end up having to clean acrylic paint off the cloth as well!
- Pour a small amount of vegetable oil onto a paper towel and wipe it onto the dried acrylic paint on the plastic. Continue until you notice the paint start to soften.
- Use a plastic scraper to scrape off the softened, dried paint. Start from the edges of the stain and work your way towards the center.
- Use more oil if needed, and repeat until you have removed all the acrylic paint you want from the plastic.
- You can also use rubbing alcohol on particularly tough paint stains. Be sure to test a small or hidden area of the plastic first to make sure the alcohol won’t have any lasting effects. If it is safe to use, apply some rubbing alcohol to a cotton ball or cloth, and rub it into the paint stain to lift it away.
- Rinse the alcohol with warm soapy water to clean off the plastic, then dry it with a paper towel.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from plastic, we recommend checking out this video by pixiepineapple:
How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Concrete?
- Remove as much wet paint as you can with a rag.
- Mix together warm water with dish soap in a bucket, then scrub down the concrete with a broom or brush dipped in the soapy water.
- Rinse the concrete with a hose and clean water.
- If there is any dried paint remaining on the concrete, remove this with a scraper. You can use a putty knife, utility knife, a paint knife or even the edge of a shovel.
- Pour some paint stripper or acrylic paint remover over the area you want to clean, and cover it with a rag to let it soak.
- After leaving the stripper on the paint for a few hours, scrub it off with soapy water.
- Repeat until the paint is completely removed.
To further explore how to remove acrylic paint from concrete, we recommend checking out this video by Kendall Burns:
Although acrylic paint is designed to last for a long time and be water-resistant, there are some handy tips to get acrylic paint out of almost anything!
With this complete guide, you will never get stuck with acrylic paint stains again.
Harriet Maher a freelance writer based in Otautahi New Zealand, where she grew up. After completing an Honours degree in Art History at the University of Canterbury in 2014, she was awarded a full scholarship for a Masters in Art History at the University of Melbourne, which she completed in 2017. She has a lifelong desire to learn, so she’s passionate about new and innovative art practices, and she’s always seeking out new ways to look at and understand art. Her writing attempts to make the invisible seen, and the unsayable said.