How to remove watercolor paint from clothes (Use these tips!)

Artists are all familiar with the problem of paint getting on their clothes. The paint either drips onto your pants or shirt, or you accidently smear your arm through your painting. So how do you get watercolor paint off your clothes?

If watercolor paint has gotten on your clothes, you should immediately wash it with water to remove it. Since watercolor doesn’t tend to leave stains, this should do the bulk of the job. You should be able to remove any remaining paint with a regular wash.

How to remove watercolor paint from clothing

As a first step: Do not be concerned. Watercolor leaves stains very rarely, if it is treated properly. White clothes might be a bit more likely to become stained, but they should still be able to be cleaned.

Should you end up getting watercolor paint on your clothes, you should go to the sink or bathtub and rinse it thoroughly. By doing so, the paint will not have time to dry and soak into the fibres.

If you use soap and gently rub, you should be able to remove 95% of the paint in a few minutes.

You can then wash it, as you normally would, and everything should be back to normal.

You can repeat the process if there is still a stain left.

Many people make mistakes when it comes to cleaning their watercolor brushes, which can destroy the brush over time. Learn how to avoid this issue here.

paint, box, painting

The best way to avoid ruining your clothes with paint

Wearing nice clothes while painting is never a good idea. You will get them dirty somehow, no matter how careful you are. 

Regardless of the length of your painting session, you should still wear an apron. One will cost you less than 10$. You will thank me later.

You should also avoid wearing long, wide sleeves if the temperature allows it, since they may get drenched in the paint, water, or the painting itself.

Trust me, it’s extremely annoying to have to clean off tiny little fibres from your painting, or your paint…

You should have an outfit that is made for painting

You will never have to worry about paint getting on your clothes again with this simple method. Wear something you don’t mind getting dirty.

That’s all there is to it. When you paint, wear a shirt and some pants that you never wear and don’t like.

It doesn’t matter if something were to happen to these clothes, since their only purpose is that.

You can always go to the thrift store or buy something cheap if you cannot find something like that in your wardrobe.

The investment is about 10-15 dollars and it is well worth it.

It allows you to just focus on your art and the painting process. You don’t have to worry about unnecessary obstacles or being careful not to spill any paint.

If you’d like to know how many layers of paint watercolor can handle, read this article.

watercolor with a watercolor swatch and a flower

What is the best way to remove watercolor paint from surfaces?

Watercolors are liquid paints, so you will drip some of them on the floor or on a table occasionally. There’s no need to worry about it. It’s inevitable.

You should immediately try to soak up the paint with a towel or something similar. Otherwise, the paint will have time to try, and the pigments will be harder to remove.

There are now different ways to remove watercolor paint from different surfaces. 

As long as it’s just a table, you shouldn’t have too much trouble cleaning up the paint, unless it’s unprocessed wood. 

Unprocessed wood will soak up water very quickly, so you need to act quickly. Try to soak up the paint with a towel and use water to clean it afterwards, so the pigments don’t settle into the wood fibres.

If you use a table made of processed wood, plastic, or aluminum (or something similar), you won’t have any issues. You can basically let all the paint dry and clean it up when you’re finished painting.

Since the paint cannot soak into the surface, it won’t leave a mark after it is cleaned. Simply clean the table as usual. You can use a wet towel, but I always recommend using a cleaning product that removes germs, etc.

If the paint gets onto a sofa or a chair made of fabric, it becomes more challenging.

In order to thin down and soak up the paint, apply water immediately onto the surface. Usually this will take care of the problem.

Stains that have been there for a long time and do not go away should be cleaned by a professional since they don’t go away on their own.

While there are ways to remove it, handling it with the needed tools as an amateur might damage the couch or chair more than it would benefit  it.

Also check out this article about why watercolor is so expensive, or this one on the question if watercolor is toxic to dogs


In most cases, watercolor paint won’t leave stains on clothes if you wash them after the paint has been applied. A simple wash should remove any paint that remains on the clothes/fabric. A simple wash will remove dried up watercolor paint in no time.

2 thoughts on “How to remove watercolor paint from clothes (Use these tips!)”

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