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How To Remove Paint Splatters And Rescue Your Clothes

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 stains 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!

How To Remove Paint Splatters And Rescue Your Clothes

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 And Rescue Your Clothes

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.

How To Remove Paint Splatters And Rescue Your Clothes

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.)

How To Remove Paint Splatters And Rescue Your Clothes

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.

How To Remove Paint Splatters And Rescue Your Clothes

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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Jill Nystul (aka Jillee)

Jill Nystul is an accomplished writer and author who founded the blog One Good Thing by Jillee in 2011. With over 30 years of experience in homemaking, she has become a trusted resource for contemporary homemakers by offering practical solutions to everyday household challenges.
I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

About Jillee

Jill Nystul

Jill’s 30 years of homemaking experience, make her the trusted source for practical household solutions.

About Jillee


Bright Ideas

  • The Planets aligned for me to see this post tonight! I bought my husband a NEW dark green shirt and in less than 2 hrs of wearing it, he walked into a gas station and brushed up against wet paint! Ahhh! He didn’t notice it because it was on his backside! He came home, and I said, “Is that white paint on your NEW shirt?!!!” “Where?” he said, “Oh yeah, they were painting at the gas station!” I was so mad AT HIM! Why do I bother buying him nice things! lol You are a blessing to me and to him, Thank you! I will try this in the morning! I am confident it will work.

  • Great idea, will definitely use this in the future! Hand sanitizer also removes tree sap from clothes after a camping trip. Same application……with a toothbrush!

  • I just want to say, Thank you! A couple of months ago we had put some kilz on our basement floor. While we were spreading it around it splattered all over my husbands legs and shorts. Little paint dots everywhere. I tried washing it out but no luck. They were pretty new, so I was kind of bummed it wouldn’t come out. I kept them figuring he could wear them when he had a dirty job to do.

    This morning I was going through my email ( it’s been a little bit). I came across this post and I was a little skeptical because most things I try that someone had great results with, I don’t.

    So I decided to give it a try. The results are fantastic. My husband had bought another pair the exact same. When I was done scrubbing them with the hand sanitizer, washing and drying them. I asked him which was which. He couldn’t tell, neither could I.

    Such a great tip. Thank you so much.

    I have some texture that was sprayed on my walls and some got on my carpet. Going to see if it works there as well.

  • This is good to know . At my house we have old clothes we wear when painting. I did recently send an old pair of capris with a tiny paint splatter to the thrift store. Id had them forever, but it still would have been nice to know this trick.

  • Your timing couldn’t be more perfect. We just painted our deck. My son then says, “I should have worn different shorts, I really like these.” Kid! We’ll be trying this today. Thank you

  • This tip and the one about the used tea bags are my favorites. So glad you can scout around and gather the info, then test for us. You are my go- to person for any disaster!

  • Thanks for this handy tip!!! I have done it more than once. Paint and think I will not get any on my clothes and of course I do. I am certainly a messy painter!!!

  • So good to know about the hand sanitizer removing paint from clothing. My husband does it all the time. His good pants for work are a prime example for copping it when doing a handy man fix it at work.
    You said about planning their next paint job clothes, but they don’t take notice and we are their wives not their mothers. They should know better. Lol

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