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How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Canvas

Canvas is often used as a material to paint with acrylic paints. Acrylic paint is water-based and is some of the easiest paint for beginners to work with because it mixes well, is easily applied and dries quickly. An artist may wish to remove acrylic paints from a canvas, either in a small area or over the entire canvas. Luckily, removing the paint is easy. All it takes is a few simple tools and a lot of patience.

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  1. Inspect the paint to see how much you need to remove. It is easier to remove small splotches of paint rather than an entire painted canvas. However, both kinds can be done. If you have painted the canvas, then try to remember if you painted the canvas with a gesso or other preparation material over the surface of the canvas. If gesso is present, then the paint will be easier to remove. If not, then the canvas is likely to remain slightly discoloured after removal.

  2. Wear rubber gloves and work in a well-ventilated area or outdoors. Create a layer of turpentine, white spirit, rubbing alcohol or ammonia in the bottom of the container. Make it deep enough to cover the canvas completely. Place the canvas inside the container and sink it under the cleaning solution. Allow the canvas to sit in the solution for one hour.

  3. Remove the canvas from the soaking solution and use a putty knife to scrape away any remaining paint. If some paint sticks to the surface of the canvas, leave it alone for now. Remove as much of the paint as you can with the putty knife. If the paint layers are thin enough, some of the paint may dissolve in the turpentine solution and will not have to be scraped away. If you uncover a layer of dry paint, then repeat the soaking process once more.

  4. Dip a clean cloth into some turpentine or other cleaning agent and place over the areas where the paint has soaked deep into the fibres. Allow the cloth to sit until the turpentine has dried. Repeat this process until no more paint comes up with the cloth.

  5. Place a few drops of dish soap in clean, warm water. Use a soft brush to rub the solution over the surface of the canvas. Rinse the canvas with water alone, until no more soap bubbles remain. This will remove all traces of the turpentine and remaining paint. Allow the canvas to dry overnight.

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Things You'll Need

  • Acrylic paint
  • Turpentine
  • White spirit
  • Ammonia
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Soft cloth
  • Putty knife
  • Rubber gloves
  • Matt medium or gesso
  • Paint brush
  • Container large enough to hold the canvas
  • Dish soap
  • Soft brush

About the Author

Brenda Priddy

Brenda Priddy has more than 10 years of crafting and design experience, as well as more than six years of professional writing experience. Her work appears in online publications such as Donna Rae at Home, Five Minutes for Going Green and Daily Mayo. Priddy also writes for Archstone Business Solutions and holds an Associate of Arts in English from McLennan Community College.

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