Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Clothes?

Learn whether acrylic paint is suitable for decorating your clothes and different fabrics

Today we can use plenty of options and materials for creativity and for decorating our clothes in particular. Using acrylic paint on clothes is one such option that is widely popular due to its simplicity.

It can be used for many purposes that we will tell you about a bit later, but there is always the same question: can you paint with acrylic paint on clothes?

In this article, we will tell you whether you can use acrylic paint on clothes instead of fabric paint and what this paint can be used for exactly. Also, you will learn how to clean off acrylic paint on clothes since the paint may end up on our garments not always intentionally.

Can You Use Regular Acrylic Paint On Clothes?

The question about using acrylic paint on clothes becomes crucial when DIY enthusiasts decide to try regular acrylic paints on their clothes or other items made of fabric, such as bags, shoes, shawls, etc.

The answer is generally yes, acrylic paints can be used on fabrics. Acrylics are an amazingly versatile medium that can be used on most surfaces, as you probably know.

And as we all know, people most often paint with acrylics on canvas and these are made from the material. As a result, we can assume that acrylic paints will also work well on other fabrics. For example, you can use acrylic paints to decorate the following items:

  1. Clothes (t-shirts, shorts, pants, etc.)
  2. Bags
  3. Backpacks (if the material allows that)
  4. Fabric shoes
  5. Tote bags

Of course, this is not a complete list! For instance, other items you could decorate with acrylics would be pillowcases or scarves/shawls.

Fabric paint VS acrylic paint on clothes/Machine Washing&Drying VS Handwash Hand Painted Clothes2020Fabric paint VS acrylic paint on clothes/Machine Washing&Drying VS Handwash Hand Painted Clothes2020

Some people even manage to paint on lampshades! In fact, this is what home DIYers do: they start with safer items that they are not afraid to ruin and if it works, then they move to clothes.

Do You Need a Medium?

When using acrylics for your creative fabric projects, you will need to remember a few things. One of them is that, when working with acrylic on fabric, you should ideally use a fabric medium. With its help, you will essentially turn your regular artistic acrylics into fabric paint.

See, if you simply apply regular artistic acrylics to any fabric, the paint will sooner or later start fading and washing off. If you made any mistakes while applying it, the design may even start peeling!

However, if you use this medium, it will ensure that your paint will hold well to the fabrics and will not wash out or fade after even a long-term use and multiple washes. In addition, a fabric medium makes the acrylics softer, so your materials will not stiffen when dry.

Another benefit to this medium is that it can alter the consistency of your paint without making it run or bleed through the fabric. And finally, if you use a fabric medium, you will be able to explore different blending techniques or even create watercolor effects on your clothes! This is something you can’t achieve if you use pure acrylics.

Do You Need a Medium
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How to Use Acrylic Paint On Clothes. Life Hacks And Useful Tips?

If you have never tried acrylic paints on clothes but you would like to try them, then we suggest you a number of great and very simple tips to check out:

  • Before starting, place a protective layer over the surface you will be working on. This will prevent your fabrics from sticking to the surface while you are painting. You could use an old newspaper, a thick board, or an old sheet
  • Always pre-wash the item you will be painting. This will remove dirt and dust and will also prevent shrinkage during the future washes
  • Once your item is dry, stretch it out using some board or other stiff and even item. This would be useful when painting on clothing to make it easier to apply paint to the area
  • Make sure the fabric you have chosen can handle acrylic paints! These fabrics are cotton, silk, cotton blends, wool, terry cloth, felt, velvet, flannel, suede, corduroy, leather, and most other synthetic material and blends
  • When you add your fabric medium to the acrylics, mix them thoroughly until you are happy with the consistency
  • Always test your paint on a small area or separate piece of fabric to see how it reacts before you start applying it

Once you are done, leave the artwork for a day or so to dry completely

With these tips, you will be able to create a nice acrylic design on your clothes and avoid the most common mistakes and flaws that beginner DIYers do.

How to Use Acrylic Paint On Clothes. Life Hacks And Useful Tips
stanis88 via VistaCreate

How to Use Acrylics On Fabric With No Medium?

Now you are probably wondering whether it is possible to use acrylics on fabrics with no medium. There is such an option indeed. However, this will not give you the same results. See, one of the major benefits of using a fabric medium is that it allows your fabric to stay soft and flexible.

If you apply pure acrylics with no medium added directly onto fabrics, they will produce a stiff feel on the item, besides, the paint will be washed off pretty soon (often after the first laundry).

But even if you do not wash the fabric (e.g. if it has a decorative use only), you still take the risk of the paint cracking or peeling off easily as there is nothing to bind it to the fabric fibers.

So our recommendation is to add some medium to your paint whether you are painting a pair of shoes or a decorative cushion. A fabric medium will extend the durability and lifespan of your fabric, as well as the acrylic design you apply.

However, if you are going to do something like a wall hanging or a tapestry, then you might not be in need of using a medium simply because there is no wear and tear to the item. Just keep in mind that sunlight, dust, and other elements could have a damaging effect on these too.

How to Use Acrylics On Fabric With No Medium
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Tips For Using Acrylic Paint On Fabric Without Medium

If you have decided not to use a fabric medium with acrylics, then you should take some handy tips into consideration to make sure you will still get the best results of your fabric projects:

  • Instead of washing the fabric first, you need to sand it. With a small piece of sandpaper, go over your fabric delicately to remove any loose bits or dust pieces
  • Using a spray bottle, lightly wet the fabric. The moisture in the fabric will allow your paint to better adhere and be absorbed once the design is dry
  • When painting, add some water to the acrylics and thin them before applying. This will make the paint easier to work with and your final design might not be so stiff when it dries

Now you know that you can use regular artistic acrylics on fabric to decorate different items like clothes, footwear, and others. And with the help of all the tips we shared with you, the process of painting on fabric should be really successful and simple!

How to Keep Acrylic Paint On Clothes Longer?

For sure, if you are satisfied with the design you created on your fabric item, you will want to make it last as long as possible! But how is it possible to extend the lifespan of your masterpiece? No matter if you used a fabric medium or not, you should still have some great after-care tips in mind! You can use them to extend the longevity of your fabric art.

5  Beginner Painting On Clothes MISTAKES to AVOID (save your artwork from cracks)5 Beginner Painting On Clothes MISTAKES to AVOID (save your artwork from cracks)
  • If you have used a fabric medium, you can wash your painted clothing as normal
  • If you have not used a medium, then you should avoid getting your fabrics very wet. Ideally, spot cleaning is the best option for them
  • Try not to wash your items too often! With every wash, the item may run the risk of fading
  • To wash clothes decorated with acrylics, a cold wash cycle is best
  • After painting your fabrics, you should wait around four days before attempting another wash
  • If you are not sure whether using the washing machine even on a cold cycle is safe, then handwashing is your option. Just use cold water!
  • Ironing on your fabrics is also possible, as long as you are using a low heat setting

Like that, you will be able to maintain your acrylic-painted clothes and other fabric items correctly, thus preserving the painting and allowing it to stay on fabrics longer without fading or color bleeding.

How to Get Rid Of Acrylic Paint On Clothes?

Let’s be honest, paints don’t always end up on our clothes for a purpose! It’s ok if you decide to paint your old t-shirt to refresh it but if you accidentally set a stain on your favorite garment, you will want to know exactly how to wash it off!

Speaking of the removal of acrylic paint on clothes, you may have to use different methods of its removal depending on how fresh the stain is. Below, you can check out several alternative methods.

But no matter what, you should always remember a rule of thumb: the very moment you notice the paint spill or stain on your clothes, remove the excess quickly! You can wipe it delicately with a paper towel or other similar item just to prevent the paint from soaking the fabric and setting it deep in the fibers. After the excess is removed, you can do the following:

  • Put the item into the washer. Add detergent and set on a cool regime as a warm or hot setting may set the stain and make it impossible to remove!
  • If you can’t wash the item right now, keep it submerged in water until you wash it. It is very important to keep the stain wet and not let the paint set!

But even if the paint dried quite a long time ago, don’t worry — your garment may still be able to save from being ruined. In this case, you can use one of the following solutions.

How to Get Rid Of Acrylic Paint On Clothes
davit85 via VistaCreate

Hairspray

Simply spray it on the stained area, making sure it is completely wet with the product! You will see that the spot begins to soften slowly. Once the process begins, you can scour it and wipe it off. Afterward, run water over the damaged area and then immediately wash it immediately using the recommendations from above.

Hairspray
SomeMeans via VistaCreate

Nail Polish Remover

Acetone works similarly to hairspray, only it might be a bit smelly. You need to saturate a cotton ball or the tip of a washcloth in it and press it on the stained area of your garment.

Hold it in place for a few minutes so that the acetone begins to break the paint down. When you see that the paint stain is loose enough, try to scrape it off delicately, getting the dry bits off. Then wipe those bits away. Finish by rinsing out the acetone with water before the garment is washed.

Nail Polish Remover
Mellisandra via VistaCreate

Commercial Stain Removers

This is the fastest and easiest way to get rid of an acrylic paint stain. Since there are many types of stain removers today, you should follow the directions indicated on the bottle carefully! Otherwise, you may damage the fabric even more!

So, you are now aware of many useful tips and tons of information that will help you not only apply acrylic paints to your clothes correctly but also keep it there longer, preserving the color. After you read this article, you will be able to paint your clothes and other fabric items with acrylics, as well as remove acrylic stains from your clothes effectively.

Commercial Stain Removers
Milkos via VistaCreate

Frequently Asked Questions

⭐How to seal acrylic paint on clothes?

You can iron your garment after turning it inside out to avoid damaging tghe design.

⭐Can you use normal acrylic paint on clothes?

Yes, you can. But the effct might not be as long-lasting as of the special fabric acrylic paint.

⭐Will acrylic paint design on clothes go through my tumble dryer safely?

It can survive if you dry it like this once or twice on a low heat setting. But constant drying in a tumble dryer will soon destroy the design.

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Melinda worked as an art consultant and Home Designer for eight years in total. As an art consultant, she was first employed in a local art gallery in San Francisco where she was responsible for picking the most suitable artwork for her clients depending on their goals and budget. At this job, Melinda showed herself as a confident specialist and a true art lover with exceptional taste and artistic sense. Melinda is a passionate author of Housekeeping Bay and we are really happy that she is our Expert.
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