Will Acrylic Paint Wash Off? (Let’s Find Out)

It’s happened to all of us at some point when doing projects by ourselves or with kids. Someone got acrylic, non-washable paint on something that we don’t want to be ruined.

The great news is, you will most likely be able to get it off, but it may not be as simple as using water and soap. 

In general, acrylic paint is only washable when wet on certain surfaces. Once it dries, it is not considered washable. Warm water and soap are usually part of the cleaning process, but you need other products to remove the paint fully. 

(Source: Gifted House, To Canvas)

Most of the time, the products needed to remove acrylic paint are easy to find and used for only a few purposes.

The biggest part of acrylic paint removal is understanding that you usually need other chemicals to remove a chemical-based paint, which can be dangerous if precautions aren’t taken. 

Does Water Wash Off Acrylic Paint?

Water and soap are the tried and true methods of washing any product off most materials. However, when it comes to acrylic paint, water only helps wash off paint that is still wet.

Once acrylic paint has dried, water isn’t going to do much to help remove it, not even on the skin. 

Washing off acrylic paint takes time, effort, and special products designed to take off chemical-based paint. 

Washing Acrylic Paint Off Of Wood

Putting acrylic paint off wood is one of the more ideal situations for getting acrylic paint to last a while, but not so much for getting it off again. To remove acrylic paint off of wood, you need a few more tools than just water. 

The other issue with getting acrylic paint off of wood is figuring out whether your wood is varnished or not.

If it isn’t, you can use all the abrasive tools and alcohol you want; however, if the wood is treated, many tools can ruin the varnish, and rubbing alcohol can dull the shine. 

Treated and Varnished Wood

You can start by washing the paint with a sponge with some warm water and soap, and while it will not get all the paint off, it will help loosen it up and make it easier to remove with other tools.

If you plan to refinish the wood, you can use any tools and as much alcohol as you want to remove the paint. 

If you want to keep your varnish intact, warm water, soap, and a lot of elbow grease is your only option. You can try mixing alcohol with water to dilute it some, but that may not do much.

Your only hope is to scrub and go over the area until the paint all disappears, but it may never get all of it up. 

Untreated Wood

If your wood is untreated, you can be a bit more aggressive when removing the paint. Starting with warm water and soap, you can scrub at the paint until it starts to peel and flake off. 

After you dry up the water, you can alternate rubbing alcohol and sandpaper until the paint is all gone.

If the wood is older or more porous than normal, you may end up having some paint left in the cracks, and while you can scrape it out with sharp tools, it may affect the integrity of the wood. 

(Source: Felt Magnet, Tidy Life)

Washing Acrylic Paint Out Of Clothes

One of the great things about acrylic paint is that it usually dries together in one piece rather than soaking into materials.

So, removing acrylic paint from clothing is one of the easier things to do unless you got it on something made of a largely porous material like wool. 

For most pieces of clothing, you will only need a few tools such as:

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Something to scrape off the paint(butter knife or abrasive sponge)

Soak the affected piece of clothing with alcohol and let it sit for 1-2 minutes. Once it has soaked the clothing fully, start scraping off the paint while pulling away from the fabric.

You may have to repeat this process 3-5 times before getting the paint fully out of your clothing. 

If you notice the stain before the paint has fully dried, immediately put laundry detergent on the affected area and start scraping it off. The sooner you can tend to the stain, the easier it will fully get out. 

(Source: Martha Stewart, Acryl Gissen)

Washing Acrylic Paint Off Of Glass

Glass is one of the easier materials to get acrylic paint off because it is not porous, which means the paint can’t soak into any spots in the material.

Of course, it’s always easiest to get the paint off if it is still wet, but most of the time, we only notice it once it has dried. 

Starting with warm water and an abrasive sponge, scrub the paint off as much as you can. Usually, this gets a layer or two off, but there is always some left behind. Once you’re done with the sponge, you can use a razor blade to scrape the rest off. 

Be careful to use the razor blade at an angle, almost only allowing it to touch the paint to ensure you won’t scratch the glass. Start with lighter touches and slowly apply more pressure until you see desired results. 

Getting Acrylic Paint Off Of Concrete

Getting acrylic paint off of concrete is both a curse and a blessing. On the one hand, you never have to worry about damaging the concrete, so you can use as many abrasive tools that you want. 

On the other hand, it is tough to remove, and some liquids that help get off acrylic paint can damage the concrete or cause it to weaken prematurely. However, it is possible to get the paint off. 

Starting with warm water and soap, let it soak for 5-10 minutes. Using harsh sandpaper, steel wool, or an electric sander, you can start to sand off the paint.

You may use a power washer to get into the pores of the concrete, and the pressure can help knock the paint off as well. 

In a worst-case scenario situation, if the affected section is exposed to sunlight, after so much sandpaper, water, and pressure washing, there is a good chance the paint will fade. After a while, it will no longer be able to be seen. 

Removing Acrylic Paint Off Of Skin

Thankfully, for the most part, you can remove acrylic paint off your skin by using hot water and soap; however, usually, this results in you having to peel the paint off in a mildly painful way.

The water and soap can cause the paint to separate from your skin but not enough to fall off on its own. 

You will have to manually scrape it off or peel it off using your fingers and nails. This can hurt simply due to increased irritation of the affected area.

Some experts recommend applying baby oil to your skin to help break down the paint before applying warm water. It helps remove the paint with less pain and irritation. 

Under no circumstances should you ever use any chemicals or liquids to remove acrylic paint on your skin. The chemicals made to remove acrylic paint are harsh, abrasive, and can be very dangerous to you if they contact your skin. 

If you experience a red rash or irritation around the area after removal, apply some calming lotion, or keep it under watch for a while. The rash and redness should go away after a few hours. 

(Source: Gifted House

Removing Acrylic Paint From Your Paintbrushes

You don’t want to throw away your paintbrushes every time you get finished with a project, but you may find it nearly impossible to get all the paint off of them.

The great news is, it’s possible to clean off your paintbrushes while also keeping their integrity completely. 

You can start by soaking your paintbrushes in hot water and soap to loosen the paint. Shake off your brushes and then soak them in alcohol for 5-10 minutes, or until you can see the paint falling off.

You may need to peel off some of the paint manually, but don’t use anything abrasive to remove it. 

Once most of the paint is off, wash your brushes in warm water and soap. This should remove any excess paint and alcohol residue. 

Don’t forget to condition your brushes after this process. Alcohol is very drying and can lower the integrity of your brushes, causing them to break down quicker or lose bristles in your projects. 

(Source: Create Let

Products That Remove Dried Acrylic Paint

Sometimes warm water and abrasive tools may not be enough to remove the paint. You may be able to get away with rubbing alcohol, but in some cases, that may not even work.

The great news is there are many products on the market that are made for removing acrylic-based paints. 

Alcohol-Based Products

Any alcohol-based product can be used to aid in removing acrylic paint. Overall, alcohol by itself is the best option, but if you don’t have that, some other options you can use are:

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Hair Spray
  • Perfume or body spray

Obviously, not all options will work well on every single material, but in a pinch, it may be better than nothing. You want to use some protocol for every option when removing the acrylic paint. 

Soak the affected area with the removal product and allow to sit for 5-10 minutes. Once the area is soaked, scrape or scrub the paint until it is completely removed.

Source: (Art Is Fun, Wikihow)


Ammonia is extremely effective at removing acrylic paint. Still, it comes with very strong fumes that can harm or cause damage to your respiratory system if you aren’t in a well-ventilated area.

It is best to clean your material outside if you are choosing to use ammonia. 

It is important to know that once you start using ammonia, you should not use any other product or liquid to clean the same area; Ammonia is extremely dangerous when mixed with other liquids, especially anything chemical. 

Mixing products can cause chemical poisoning and can be dangerous for you to breathe in the results. You need to wear gloves while working with ammonia and a mask if ventilation is a concern. 

(Source: Art Is Fun, Wikihow)


Acetone is much stronger than rubbing alcohol but can damage certain materials that are porous or have lower integrity. Acetone should not be used on:

  • Plastics
  • Clothing
  • Wood
  • Carpet

Acetone can be harsh on your skin and nails, so it is recommended to wear gloves while using this. Usually, acetone is used for acrylic paint removal on glass and metal or harder-to-reach areas where you cant scrape the paint off. 

It is important o know that acetone is highly flammable, so fire precautions should be taken. It is also recommended to use this in a well-ventilated area to ensure the fumes do not affect your respiratory system. 

Source: (Tips Bulletin, Felt Magnet)


While glycerin is not a commonly talked about product for acrylic paint removal, it works incredibly well for set-in, older stains.

Glycerin helps break down the chemical makeup of the paint, allowing it to be soaked up and diluted with water and soap until it is gone. 

Now, this depends highly on the type of material you are trying to remove it from. Some materials may not respond well to glycerin, and it can cause a bigger issue. The most common use for glycerin with stain removal is in a carpet or upholstery. 

(Source: Tips Bulletin, Felt Magnet)

Final Thoughts

There isn’t a huge reason to worry if acrylic paint ends up staining clothing or drying on a table or the floor. While it can be frustrating to remove, there is a great chance that you will remove it completely. 

The biggest issue is that acrylic paint isn’t washable when just using warm water and soap. It would help if you usually had other products and tools to remove the paint completely, but you can remove it and make the material look brand new. 

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