How to Remove Water-Based Paint

Written by elizabeth chaplin
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How to Remove Water-Based Paint
Remove water-based paints like acrylics from your skin, clothing and carpet with water and elbow grease. (An image of a tube with spilt paint 54hj image by Mykola Velychko from

Water-based paint is a type of paint that can be cleaned with water and soap, unlike oil-based paints, which require mineral spirits. Types of water-based paint include acrylics, latex and tempera, which is often used for children's painting. Removing water-based paint from things like clothing and skin is a much more straightforward process than removing paint from carpeting, which requires a carpet cleaning machine. Because these types of paints require only water for cleaning, avoid the harmful effects of mineral spirits on your skin or clothing.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Laundry detergent
  • Wash cloth
  • Hand soap
  • Rags
  • Wet/dry vacuum

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  1. 1

    Immediately remove the clothing that the paint has spilt on, being careful not to spread the wet paint on more parts of the fabric.

    How to Remove Water-Based Paint
    Remove paint from clothing while it is still wet. (kid paint image by Andrey Kiselev from
  2. 2

    Rinse the clothing in warm water. Use a kitchen sink sprayer if possible to focus directly on the paint stains.

  3. 3

    Put the clothing in the washing machine by itself and insert laundry detergent into the designated compartment. Wash the garment normally in warm water.


  1. 1

    Soak a washcloth in warm water.

    How to Remove Water-Based Paint
    Remove paint from skin with regular hand soap. (Girl and paint image by Trevor Goodwin from
  2. 2

    Pour some hand soap into the wash cloth and rub the cloth to create a lather.

  3. 3

    Rub your skin where the paint has spilt. If the paint is wet, it will come off immediately. Scrub the areas on your skin in a circular motion where paint has dried until it is removed.


  1. 1

    Use your hands to scoop up as much of the wet paint as possible. Dump the paint in a paint tray or garbage can.

  2. 2

    Soak the area with water, then use a clean rag to blot the area. Repeat this process until the majority of the paint has been removed.

  3. 3

    Vacuum over the area with a wet/dry vacuum, which can be rented from most home improvement stores. Make sure to follow the directions when using a wet/dry vacuum, which is used much like a standard vacuum cleaner.

Tips and warnings

  • Use a washcloth with texture when cleaning dried paint from your skin, as this will pick up the paint particles.

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