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Does Acrylic Paint Wash Off in the Washing Machine?

Traditionally speaking, no one wants to get something as seemingly permanent as acrylic paint on their clothes. However, an art project involving adding acrylics to a piece of fabric, such as a t-shirt or pillow, means you’re obviously hoping it will stay there for a while.

So, does acrylic paint wash off in the washing machine? Yes it does. Whether you got paint on your clothes and want to wash it off, or are worried about your acrylic painted clothes getting damaged, it’s definitely possible for acrylic paint to come off clothes in the washing machine.

The truth of the matter is that acrylic isn’t going to be able to stand up to the rigors of the washing machine forever. In fact, as time goes on, it the rigors of the appliance will eventually cause the paint to chip and peel from the fabric.

Is Acrylic Paint Machine Washable?

Yes, it is! Since acrylic paint is semi-permanent, it will stay on fabric even though you put it in the washing machine. If you are looking for it to purposely stay on clothes, then you can try sealing it so it becomes permanent. Another tip is to wash the item inside out, or even spot clean. Below we go over detailed steps to prevent your acrylic paint form washing off.

I also recommend using Fabric Paint, which is a type of acrylic paint that’s specifically designed for clothes. This will ensure that your painted item lasts years, even after washing them.

If you are looking for the paint to come off clothing, then there are several ways to so that. You can try soaking the item in alcohol, vinegar and even dish soap for a few hours. If you notice that some of the paint is coming off, you can then place it in the washing machine. It may take a few cycles to get the paint completely off, but it will definitely come off.

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Acrylic Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.

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For special offers and discounts, with my link you can also go to the Arteza website and shop their amazing products.

How Do You Keep Acrylic Paint From Washing Off?

The best way to avoid acrylic paint coming off clothes is by spot cleaning and hand-washing the fabric. The softer your treatment, the less likely it is that you’re going to damage the fabric. You certainly don’t want to put the item in your dryer, if at all possible. The heat and movement aren’t going to do the paint any favors. Hang-drying is considered to be the best course of action.

If you do have to use a washing machine, here are a few important things to keep in mind:

  • Use the gentlest cycle available on your washing machine.
  • Hang-drying is still considered to be the smartest way to dry and protect the garment. However, if necessary, the lowest possible heat cycle on your dryer should be okay.

You should also take steps to minimize how often the garment needs to be cleaned. In other words, if the finished project is wearable, it probably isn’t something you or your child can wear a lot. Luckily, acrylic paint projects involving fabric are not too difficult to do.

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There are in fact several other steps to keep in mind, in terms of maximizing the lifespan of the acrylic paint on your fabric

Abstract Painting
  • Get yourself a good fabric medium. There are several great ones on the market, but many feel that products from Liquitex covers their needs quite nicely. While it is certainly possible to work without a medium, or anything else, remember that this can leave your finished project is going to be quite stiff to the touch. You also won’t have as much flexibility, which can influence the lifespan of the item.
  • Wash the fabric in question before starting your project. Not only does this help with any and all sizing issues you may run into, but it also helps the paint to adhere to the fabric more successfully. Washing beforehand can also ensure your paint doesn’t start shrinking or puckering up, if you plan to wash your finished project shortly after completing it.
  • When painting, use something to put between the layers of the clothing to prevent bleeding through. Cardboard can be good for this. Any sheet of plastic will do, as well.
  • If you’re mixing the paint with a medium, or even water, make sure everything has been mixed as much as possible.
  • Don’t be afraid to practice on something. If you’re working on a project like this for the very first time, you’re going to be glad you got in some practice with a useless piece of fabric first. This can let you get a sense of how to use the acrylics in a lasting way.
  • Don’t forget to set it with heat afterwards! An iron is probably the best thing for achieving this. You should also make it a point to wait at least twenty-four hours for the paint to dry before setting it with your heat source. The iron can be set to a medium heat for three to five minutes.

Is Acrylic Paint Permanent on Clothes?

The answer to this question depends on the type of acrylics you’re using, as well as how you apply the paint during the actual project. Once you’ve applied the paint, set it down with heat, and allowed it to dry properly, the paint is likely going to be there for a very long time. Some acrylics are designed to be washed right off.

Acrylic Fabric Paint is also an option if you want the paint to stay on permanently. This type of paint is designed to stay on fabric, even through machine washes.

As long as you do everything correctly, in terms of setting the acrylic to your fabric, you should have something that will prove to be quite durable. At the same time, don’t lose sight of the fact that multiple washing machine/dryer trips will eventually undo even the strongest example of acrylic paint on fabric. It is for this reason that many recommend spot-cleaning and hang-drying whenever possible.

What Happens When You Wash Acrylic Paint?

Finally, let’s break down everything you need to know about what washing your fabric can do the acrylics.

If you don’t do anything particularly special with the fabric before washing it, such as the things you would want to do if you wanted to learn how to remove acrylic paint from fabric, nothing is really going to happen when you run it through your washing machine. This is also said with the assumption that you have done everything correctly when painting the fabric with your acrylics.

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Done correctly, the paint is going to be fairly durable. With low-maintenance care and treatment, it should be able to last for a very long time. Under minimal washer and dryer circumstances, you shouldn’t have to worry about anything coming apart. Obviously, as time goes on, the paint will lose some of its original shine.

Final Thoughts

Using acrylic paint on clothes and fabric is a fun way to personalize your style. While some paints are not able to stay on fabric, luckily acrylic paint isn’t one of them. In fact, acrylic fabric paint is a great choice to use on clothes such as shirts, pants, kids clothes, and even jackets!

Remember to prep your fabric by washing it, and using a special primer before applying the paint. Once that’s fully dry, you can go ahead and paint away.

Make sure to follow all my tips and recommended products to ensure your acrylic painted project turns out great! Also, don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting! 

To view my personal artwork collection click here.  All of my artwork is one of a kind and comes ready to hang. You can also find my work at The Gallery SOHO, in the Pomona Valley Art Association.

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