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5 Liquids That Can Remove Dried Acrylic Paint From Surfaces

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I am an artist who is always exploring different materials, tools, and processes.

Pyrol red dab

Pyrol red dab

Can You Remove Dry Acrylic Paint?

It is common to get paint somewhere you did not intend to when you are painting. While some paint can be easily washed off, acrylic paint is different. It dries fairly quickly, so if you accidentally get it somewhere you don't want it, you should act fast to remove it while it is still wet. It's not impossible to remove when it is dry, but it will be a bit trickier.

Water-based acrylic paint uses an acrylic emulsion to bind pigment. Notice I said an emulsion, not a solution. The acrylic resin does not dissolve in water. Therefore, an emulsion is required to get a single-phase liquid paint medium. When the water evaporates from acrylic paint, the polymer crosslinks its molecules and forms an adherent acrylic-paint film. Once dry, the film is no longer water-soluble.

Therefore, to remove dried acrylic paint from a porous or non-porous surface, you will need a cleaner that is capable of dissolving acrylic resin. At the very least, you will need something that can reduce its adhesion. However, please take note that some solvents and cleaners may not be appropriate for some surfaces and materials. This article will go over the appropriate surfaces for each cleaning liquid.

Five Liquids That Clean Dried Acrylic

For all items in this list, use good ventilation, avoid topical contact, and use fire prevention.

Cleaning LiquidAppropriate MaterialsWarnings

Ammonia solution

Non-porous surfaces such as metal, glass, and plastics.

Gives off intense fumes, dissolves brass (including the brass ferrules on paintbrushes and airbrushes), blackens aluminum, and should not be used on wood.

Isopropyl alcohol, AKA rubbing alcohol

Both non-porous surfaces (including plastics and unvarnished, unpainted wood) and clothing.

Has no common side effects, but infrequently causes irritation and redness on skin. As with all of these products, avoid topical contact.

Denatured alcohol

Non-porous surfaces, including plastics and unvarnished, unpainted wood.

Contains methanol (a poison).


Non-porous surfaces such as glass and metals. This is so strong that it will not require much scrubbing (perfect for airbrush nozzle tips).

Gives off intense fumes—use in a well-ventilated area. Not safe for plastics or synthetic fabrics.

Lacquer thinner

Non-porous surfaces, such as glass and metals, and unvarnished, unpainted wood.

Toluene and methanol are toxic; toluene can have long-term health effects. Look for thinners that contain ethyl acetate instead of toluene. Not safe for plastics.

Note on Removing Acrylic Paint From Wood

Alcohol, acetone, and lacquer thinner should work on bare, unvarnished wood. If the wood is varnished and gets acrylic dried on it, then hot soapy water is the only way. Although alcohol will not strip varnish per se, it may dull the shine or discolor it.

Gallon of household ammonia

Gallon of household ammonia

1. Ammonia Solution

Good old cheap household ammonia is quite effective in removing semidry and dry acrylic paint from nonporous surfaces, such as metal, glass, and plastics. This is because ammonia is often used to stabilize acrylic emulsions by raising the pH. The sudsy variety might actually be best since it contains detergent to keep the loosened particles suspended for easier rinsing.

Be careful as the fumes can be intense. It might be best to clean with ammonia outdoors or under a fume hood or similar fume-extraction device. It's rare, but the fumes can also cause an allergic reaction.

It bears mentioning that ammonia should not be used to clean airbrushes or regular paint brushes. It dissolves brass—including the brass plating on the ferrules of brushes—and blackens aluminum. Here is a guide to specifically help you clean brushes.

A bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol

A bottle of 91% isopropyl alcohol

2. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol, also known as isopropyl alcohol, is effective in removing dried acrylic from not only non-porous surfaces but also clothing with a little elbow grease. It is another cheap and readily available cleaning solution. The 99% concentration works best, but that concentration needs to be ordered online. Unlike ammonia, this liquid actually has some solvent action on the acrylic binder. Small stains on cotton and other natural fabrics should come out if they are soaked and agitated with an old toothbrush.

Denatured alcohol

Denatured alcohol

3. Denatured Alcohol

Denatured alcohol is a little stronger than isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol), but it's still safe on plastics.

Denatured alcohol is stronger than isopropyl alcohol for two reasons:

  1. It does not contain water, unlike rubbing alcohol.
  2. It is composed of ethyl and methyl alcohol, which are stronger solvents than isopropyl alcohol.

One word of caution, though: Denatured alcohol contains methanol, which is a strong poison. As with all alcohols, this stuff is quite flammable. It burns with a very pale blue flame that is invisible in sunlight. Good ventilation and fire prevention is essential.



4. Acetone

A stronger option would be acetone. Unlike alcohol, this powerful solvent cannot be used on plastics or synthetic fabrics. It really is only for getting into hard-to-reach areas where scrubbing is not possible. Acetone-safe surfaces are mainly nonporous, such as glass and metal. It is extremely flammable but low in toxicity. Most hardware stores, paint stores, and home improvement centers carry acetone in metal tins. Acetone is a common solvent used with fiberglass resins. I soak airbrush nozzle tips in acetone when they get gummed up with paint.

Can of lacquer thinner

Can of lacquer thinner

5. Lacquer Thinner

Lacquer thinner is a stronger solvent blend that would remove acrylics effectively from glass and metal. Unfortunately, lacquer thinner often contains toluene and methanol, which are toxic. Toluene is capable of long-term health affects. Lacquer thinner should only be used outdoors. Newer "green" formulations of lacquer thinner have eliminated toluene and replaced it with ethyl acetate, a low-toxicity solvent with a pleasant, fruity odor.

The steps to removing dried acrylic paint from clothing

The steps to removing dried acrylic paint from clothing

How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Clothing With Rubbing Alcohol

Here is how you should go about removing this paint from your clothes.

1. Gather Your Materials

You will need rubbing alcohol (the higher the concentration, the better) and a butter knife or old toothbrush.

Use rubbing alcohol and a scraper on the stain.

Use rubbing alcohol and a scraper on the stain.

2. Soak the Dried Acrylic With Rubbing Alcohol

First, test the rubbing alcohol on a spot of the fabric that's not usually visible to make sure it will not remove any of the dye (this is uncommon, but it is always best to be safe). Then soak the paint stain with rubbing alcohol.

Pour the rubbing alcohol on the stain.

Pour the rubbing alcohol on the stain.

3. Scrape Off the Paint

Let the stain soak for about 15 minutes. By that point, the rubbing alcohol will have loosened the paint, so now you can scrape it off. Use your butterknife or toothbrush to separate the paint from the material.

Scrape the paint off of the clothing.

Scrape the paint off of the clothing.

4. Repeat

Each time you do this, some of the paint will come off. It may take several applications to get the paint off entirely. For this sweatshirt, three applications were needed in order to remove the paint entirely.

Your clothes will eventually be clean.

Your clothes will eventually be clean.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Common Surfaces

Here are some frequent surfaces where unwanted acrylic paint can end up on. You will find steps you can take to remove dried paint.

Wood or Plastic

  • Wipe the area with water and a paper towel. This will remove dirt and dust particles.
  • Pour some vegetable oil on a paper towel. Press it against the stain for about a minute. Afterwards, use the towel to wipe away as much of the stain as possible.
  • Scrape off any remaining paint. If you're concerned about scratching your surface, use a plastic scraper.


  • Take the tip of a washcloth and dip it in nail polish remover. Make sure to use a remover that is made of acetone.
  • Hold the washcloth against the stain for a few minutes. This will start to break up the dried paint.
  • As the paint starts to loosen. you start scraping and wiping the dry parts off.
  • Rinse out the acetone with water and put the clothing in the wash.

Carpet or Fabric

  • Use tools like needle nose pliers or a putty knife to remove as much dry paint as possible from the carpet.
  • Soak a cloth in rubbing alcohol. Blot the stain and let it soak for about 20 minutes.
  • Afterwards, take a dry cloth and blot the area. Be sure to soak up the rubbing alcohol.
  • If the stain remains, try repeating the process with substances like glycerin or acetone.


  • Grab a sponge (ideally one that is two-sided, with one side that is rougher and designed for harder scrubbing) and put in some soapy water.
  • Rub the sponge over the spot. When the paint starts to get soft, start scrubbing with the rough side of the sponge.
  • If there is paint that is difficult to remove, you can try scraping it off lightly with something like a small knife. Be careful not to scratch the glass.
  • Rinse off any scrapings and dry the class with a clean cloth.


  • Pour baby oil over the stain and rub it into the paint stain.
  • As the paint starts to break up, begin removing pieces of it.
  • Put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball and rub it on any left over paint to remove it.


  • Take a cloth and dip it in denatured alcohol. Then place the cloth over the area of the canvas with the unwanted paint.
  • Leave the cloth there until it dries. Repeat the process until there is no more paint going onto the cloth.
  • Put some dish soap in warm water and use a brush to rub it over the canvas.
  • Rinse off the soap with water and let the canvas dry.

Paint Brushes

  • Dip your brush in some rubbing alcohol for about five minutes.
  • Afterwards, while wearing some gloves, start removing the dried paint from the bristles.
  • Be sure to condition your brushes after exposing them to a harsh solvent.

FAQs About Removing Acrylic Paint

Here are some common questions about removing dry acrylic paint.

Does dry acrylic paint wash off?

Once the paint is dry, it will not wash off of clothing. If you get any on your clothes, you should try to remove it before it dries. Conversely, if you are painting on your clothes, you should wait until the paint dries before washing your clothing. This article can offer some tips on how to remove paint specifically from clothes.

Will vinegar remove dry acrylic paint?

Vinegar could be useful in the paint while it is still wet. However, other substances will be more effective if the paint is dry.

How do I remove dry acrylic paint from a palette?

If you are going to use acrylic paint, it is recommended to use palettes made of glass, plastic, or ceramic. They are easier to clean than porous wood palettes. If the paint has dried, you may be able to simply lift it off if it is at the stage where it feels rubbery. Otherwise, you could soak the palette in window cleaner or fabric softener to easily remove the paint.

Can I paint over dry acrylic paint?

Since this paint is insoluble, you can paint over it when it is dry with no fear of lifting the color.


Before you use the various household chemicals useful in removing paint from various surfaces, I feel it is prudent to mention a few words on safety. Most of the liquids mentioned here pose some kind of hazard to health and property.

Fire Risk

The most important danger to consider here is flammability. Most of the liquids featured in this article are moderately to extremely flammable. Remember to not use alcohols and solvents anywhere near naked flames or energized heating elements. Do not use flammable liquids close to running electric motors unless they are specifically designed to be used in a fire hazard zone. Most electric motors emit sparks. The vapors of the most flammable, namely acetone and lacquer thinner, are heavier than air and can travel considerable distances to a source of ignition.

Inhalation Hazard

Most solvents are not only flammable but also nervous system depressants and may also be toxic. Be especially mindful of solvents that contain aromatic hydrocarbons, such as toluene and xylene. This can include certain lacquer thinners. Aromatics increase toxicity and the need for better ventilation. You must make sure sure adequate ventilation is provided when working with organic solvents. Be aware that ammonia is an irritant and can cause asphyxiation in closed spaces. Not to mention ammonia is also corrosive. If possible, it is best to work outdoors.

Health Risks

The next consideration is health concerns. These liquids can be dangerous.

  • Avoid inhaling or ingesting: You should only use solvents in well-ventilated areas. Ingestion or excessive inhalation can be extremely hazardous. Both the denatured alcohol and lacquer thinner may contain methanol, which is highly toxic if ingested. It can cause blindness and even death!
  • Avoid touching: Do not allow contact between the solvent and your skin as the liquids will penetrate and get absorbed into your body. Ammonia solution also produces noxious vapors and can irritate the skin. Wear gloves and protective eyewear to mitigate accidental exposure.

Now that we have assessed the risk, we shall proceed better prepared and more informed.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: I have some acrylic paint that I painted on board that I want to scrape down, re-gesso, and re-use the board. What is the best product to use? Is there any reason ZipStrip wouldn’t work?

Answer: Sure Zip-strip will work for this purpose but it might not be needed. If the old acrylic is not textured then scratching fine sandpaper should be sufficient treatment, then gesso over the matte surface.

Question: I have a German ceramic vase which someone has sprayed with gold paint. Can I use acetone on this?

Answer: You should be able to. Lacquer thinner is good too and it dries a tad slower leaving your more time to work with it.

Question: How do you get acrylic paint off of paint brushes?

Answer: I would soak them for a couple hours in lacquer thinner. Other wish hot soapy water or ammonia water would be good for wet paint.

Question: How do I remove spattered, dried acrylic wall paint from an old oil painting without damaging the painting?

Answer: Acrylic should not adhere to oil paint too well. Try dabbing affected area with a rag soaked in either denatured alcohol or isopropyl rubbing alcohol. Remember, you're doing this at your own risk.

Question: I made a big mistake on a corner of a white canvas. It made the whole painting look terrible. It's about 2"x3". I want to remove it and paint white over it with a just a tiny marking of black to finish it. What do you suggest?

Answer: Just paint right over it. Use a Little gesso or primer first if color change is drastic.

Question: I have an antique walnut armoire that has stenciled designs on the door panels. What would be best to use?

Answer: So tricky. I really can't recommend anything due to the delicate nature of antiques. If you're brave, test an inconspicuous area on the furniture with denatured alcohol to see if the varnish or stain can withstand this. Might not even work anyways. If you know the finish applied you can sand everything down to bare wood and refinish.

Question: I used artist’s acrylic paint to produce a union flag on the metal garage door, but vinegar doesn’t touch it. Do you have any suggestions?

Answer: Not only is this a vertical surface but it’s very large as well. Normally, lacquer thinner would be used on a metal surface but the scale of this would not be cost effective as several applications of solvent are probably needed. Therefore, I should recommend the handy heat gun and a putty knife. Any easier method would be to simply spray a white primer for metals over the painted design. Then apply an exterior paint finish that matches the original color of the garage door.

Question: We have two small spots of kids acrylic paint on our outdoor pavers. Which products can we use?

Answer: You might want to apply acetone or lacquer thinner to the paint spots and let them sit for 5 minutes. Use a putty knife to scratch off. A heat gun or boiling water may or may not work also.

Question: How do I get acrylic paint off balcony floors (tiles)?

Answer: Ceramic is fairly durable. You could use lacquer thinner on dried paint. Let soak for 5 minutes first.

Question: I just did a portrait on pastel paper, with soft pastel and colored pencil. I did a bit of acrylic splatter for an neat effect, but I 'm not fussy on where one of the splatters landed. How can I safely remove it? I'ts only about 1/4 inch in size.

Answer: You might ruin the paper trying to remove the acrylic. If it is that small it would be easier to just paint over it with titanium white or whatever color the paper is.

Question: I painted a table top with acrylic paint and later used a clear acrylic sealer. It left white streaks over paint. How can I clean the sealer off without damaging the paint?

Answer: You really can’t. You have to strip it all off.

Question: I painted my calculator with acrylic paint. When I removed the paint, you can see the faded paint in the center from where I painted. I rubbed it with a cleansing wipe but it just doesn’t remove it. I rubbed it with acetone. It later dried and it kinda has an appearance of frost. How can I fix this?

Answer: You can’t repair it. Acetone, along with other harsh solvents, irreversibly damages several types of plastics. If it’s a smooth plastic surface you might try sand paper of 300, 600, then 1200 grit. Afterwards, you can just use a polish safe for plastics and buff it out. If it’s textured surface you are up a creek.

Question: I normally use a pouring medium to create different textures in my paintings. How can I remove that from a canvas? I wish to gesso all over it but the pouring medium has dimension!

Answer: Trying to remove acrylic paint deliberately applied is a different matter. You can try applying lacquer thinner and letting it set but it will likely just be a sticky mess.

Canvas is cotton so it be OK you use paint remover and let it sit 15 minutes. Very carefully use a plastic putty knife and gently remove paint. Clean off residue with alcohol or acetone. Let dry then gesso.

In your case I would just remove the dimensional portions. Clean off chemical residues. Go from there.

Question: How do you remove acrylic from vinyl flooring?

Answer: Well, solvents are out because of the vinyl. So instead you will need an ingredient that will loosen the adhesive bond of the acrylic emulsion. Try soaking area with ammonia for 5 minutes and then use very hot water or steam. Other alkaline substances can be also tried like boiling water with baking soda in it.

Question: What would work best to get paint off my canvas vans shoes?

Answer: Dab on some isopropyl alcohol. 91% or stronger would better. Let it sit then dab off.

Question: How I can remove artist acrylic colour (used for retouching) from an oil painting on jute canvas?

Answer: If the acrylic is already dry then no. Anything that would remove dried acrylic would at least damage oil paint. Your best option is to try to paint over it. I’d put a primer over the acrylic and try using oil paints again.

Question: Would isopropyl alcohol remove dried acrylics from a silicone mat?

Answer: Absolutely! But almost nothing sticks to silicone. Try first to peel some of the acrylic off. Then use the alcohol on any stubborn remnants.

Question: How can I remove acrylic colour from marble flooring?

Answer: First, marble cannot be treated with ANY acid or acid-containing product. Now with that, I would say put either denatured or rubbing alcohol on the acrylic and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then use a scratch-free sponge. Marble is kind of soft as a mineral and would scratch with harsh treatment. Once removed, you can then use a marble polish to bring the shine back.

An even safer bet would be to soften the acrylic with steam if you can rent the necessary equipment. But for simplicity, the alcohol and scratch-free sponge would be the fastest and cheapest way.

Question: How can I remove dry emulsion paint from a bucket?

Answer: Is the bucket plastic or metal? In either case, try denatured alcohol first and let it sit before scrubbing. If it’s smooth plastic, a lot of the dry paint may come off by mechanical means.

Question: I have a 5 gallon bucket with a printed image on it. I tried alcohol and acetone. I'm not sure how it was stenciled on. What can I try next?

Answer: I’m assuming it’s and HDPE bucket and there is pretty much nothing you can do with it if you cannot remove what you want with acetone or alcohol. Hot soapy water with some elbow grease is worth a try though.

Question: I painted with acrylic on a glazed ceramic mug and left it to sit for weeks and varnished it. I'm unsure about the design now. If I remove this acrylic paint and varnish with Acetone do you think it will remove it but damage the mug?

Answer: Acetone will not damage ceramics or glazes. It will work fine maybe lacquer thinner would be a tad more effective because of additional solvents.

Question: What products can you use to remove acrylic from a hardwood floor?

Answer: All the products mentioned in this article with the exception of ammonia. If the hardwood floor has an oil or varnish treatment it may be damaged by most solvents. Test a small area first. Denatured alcohol might be less aggressive but will help to remove dried paint.

Question: I used acrylic paint with wooden stamping blocks and mistakenly let the paint dry on the woodblocks. What’s the best way to remove the dried acrylic paint?

Answer: Cautiously try acetone or lacquer thinner if no rubber is present. If the rubber is present, you’ll have tried hot water with detergent.

Question: How can I remove spray paint in my shoes?

Answer: If it’s oil-based alkyd paint, then make a solution of washing soda in hot water. Lightly dab onto spray paint and let it sit for at least 15 minutes. It should soften the paint enough to be rubbed off with warm soapy water.


Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on September 14, 2020:

@zayy you don’t add oil to acrylic paints. You can add a flow aid that can help with self leveling.

zayy on September 10, 2020:

We use acrylic paint on canvas.May I ask what kind of oil do you add. It can be changed to make the painting more smooth.Change more subtle paintings.I am from Taiwan.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on September 05, 2020:

Well yes because that’s just alcohol and ammonia diluted with soapy water

Deborah Walter on September 01, 2020:

If paint is not completly dry window cleaner has worked for me.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on August 31, 2020:

Cement should be easy enough. You can apply lacquer thinner or acetone and let it soften the dried paint. Then use a razor or putty knife to scrape it up.

Gloria Older on August 30, 2020:

Trying to get dried acrylic paint off a cement garage floor?

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on August 05, 2020:

@maria, I cannot make recommendations if I don’t know what type of material you want to remove the paint from. Metal and wood are simple enough, just use lacquer thinner, acetone or similar. If surface is plastic you’ll need to find out what kind. Some plastics can stand up to solvent use while others cannot.

MARIA SANCHEZ on August 05, 2020:

Hello, how can I remove years of house paint from a stained laundry plastic lavatory?

Nelvia on July 29, 2020:

Good tips, have found that vinegar and Murphys Oil soap also can take dried acrylics off various surfaces

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on July 23, 2020:

@Lialia, if you mean stone then you can use alcohol or lacquer thinner. Since stone is fairly heat resistant, you can always use a heat gun and any finish will just soften and come right off.

Lialia on July 23, 2020:

How do I remove acrylic paint of a sone

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on July 21, 2020:

I would first test to see if the paint on the fence is affected by denatured alcohol. If not, then simply use denatured alcohol to remove. If alcohol makes paint chalky, then you will either need to use hot soapy water or repaint the section of fence. For repainting, just sand the overspray section with 220 grit sandpaper and repaint.

Christopher on July 17, 2020:

How to remove acrylic over spray from painted metal fence post

Lindsey on July 17, 2020:

My daughter used my office chair as a rag while painting with matte acrylic paint . How can I get the paint off?

Crystal_jellybean on June 22, 2020:

Great advice. Really helped me! Keep it up

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on June 20, 2020:

I have no idea what you are asking. Sorry!

Jackson on June 16, 2020:

How do I remove color that has bleeder on my rubber shoe midsole?

Myrtle_beachmysticgirl on June 05, 2020:

I got Acrylic paint on my white desk its been on there for months i tried goof off magic erasers a bunch of things Oh god what should i use...?

Prajakta on April 01, 2019:

Very nice

Thank you for sharing such information

Keep it up

Rhonda MT on February 03, 2019:

@ Dewy Holmen

7 weeks ago

How do you get dried acrylic paint that you brushed on with a paintbrush off of a canvas I need help?

Hi Dewy, if I were you I would use rubbing alchol and follow the directions for removing paint from clothing.(if you want to remove all the paint) Otherwise I would use the rubbing alchol and a Q-tip and gently remove just a bit of paint at a time.

Rhonda, MT on February 03, 2019:

I wish i had taken before, during and after pictures or video!

I used rubbing alchol 70%, poured some in the little depressions and waited about two minutes then used a small piece of green scrubby and was totally amazed at how easy the acrylic paint came off.

My friend uses a plastic paint tray, and doesnt clean the tray between colors very well. So the acrylic dries in layers and was never really cleaned except when she used a knife on it to scrape off the dried paint. When she put her tray in the sink i thought id clean it for her and found this page. I am so glad I did! this saved a lot of elbow grease. I won't ever forget about using alchol on the plastice, I'm sure it would work wonders on glass and ceramic paint trays as well.

Thank you so much Jason for writing up this article. It is definately a finger saver!

Gabriel on December 30, 2018:

Ei Jason! Thank you so much for the reply!

I don't know if the paint is acrylic, its the original paint of the sunglasses, and its quite solid and have a kinda glossy finish. I've tried alcohol on it, but, it did'nt worked. I have to try the hot water yet, bu i think its not strong enough though.

If its not acrylic, do you think that acetone or lacquer thinner would work? I think it need something very strong to remove this paint!

Sorry about the english, not my first language!

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on December 29, 2018:

@Gabriel- If we are talking about acrylic water based emulsion paint then rubbing alcohol should be OK. Do not use Acetone or lacquer thinner though. I am assuming the acetate glass is smooth, you might even get it off with boiling hot water with dish soap since acrylic does not adhere to plastic well. BTW, I do a small test with isopropyl (rubbing)alcohol with Q-tip to make sure first that it wont dull or mar the plastic before going for it all the way.

Gabriel on December 28, 2018:

I have a sunglass, he is made of acetate plastic. I want to remove his paint, and just leave the color of the acetate. Wich one of the products can work?

Dewy on December 19, 2018:

Use the alcohol method.

Dewy Holmen on December 13, 2018:

How do you get dried acrylic paint that you brushed on with a paintbrush off of a canvas I need help?

Judy Scheibly on November 28, 2018:

We stained our driveway with a silicone acrylic concrete stain. Our hoa wants it reversed. We are trying to cooperate, but cannot find anyone to do it or a solvent that will remove it. Help.

Gail b on November 23, 2018:

How do I get dried acrylic paint off of a gesso surface to get to the painting beneath it

Richard on November 23, 2018:

I am removing acrylic roof coating from a 55 gallon plastic drum what can I use

Maziyar on September 02, 2018:

Hi dear , i have some acrylic stain on my danim jacket . Which of this do you think works better and doesnt damag the fabric?

It would be great if you help me.

Jean on August 23, 2018:

I'm thinking of using acrylic paint on ceramic tiles. When I move I need to remove it. Is it worth the effort?

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on June 01, 2018:

Yep if you leasing be sure its alright to do that in the lease contract. My article was advocating removal of artist acrylic from clothing and carpeting. I mainly was talking about minor amounts. Some of the liquids I suggested are extremely flammable or noxious and once you are working with an area larger than the palm of your hand, the danger increases exponentially. For very large areas like a whole studio, Id have a pro do it and it would removed via mechanical means.

Mike on May 29, 2018:

Hi Jason, I am about to move into a large studio with concrete polished flooring. I was going to lay down vinyl to protect it but that will be expensive and require removing the double sided tape at the end of the lease as well. Your article suggests that I could actually likely get a professional to remove the acrylic and re-polish the concrete floor. Is that correct?

TwoBlessed4words on May 27, 2018:

I had a new pair of midnight blue Jeans and bumped up against some pink acrylic craft paint and not realizing it I got it on my hand and I got it in 3 more places on my jeans. The jeans have been washed (prior to paint) in detergent and vinegar which I do every wash. I used the recommended solution for getting out the stains (my alcohol is only 70% though) after several tries the paint came out but it faded the blue out of places where I treated. So I still can't wear the pants. Any suggestions on how to get color back in the spots? I thought of doing a spot Dying with Rit or some other fabric dye but I don't want to do it if it will make things worse. Can you help me ? I don't want to loose a $50.00 pair of jeans!

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on May 24, 2018:

Sure no problem. Just make sure to test on a small inconspicuous area first. Carpet is mostly nylon which is not affected by alcohol but make sure the dye wont run or bleed.

Rosy on May 18, 2018:

Thank you, my mom, my brother, and I have to move out of our house soon and there's a few acrylic paint stains on the carpet so we will test out the rubbing alcohol. Thanks again!

Charlotte on May 17, 2018:

this works wonders! thanks for the excellent tips!

Lila on April 22, 2018:

ok so i painted a mural on my wall and now i want to paint another mural, but i need to remove the first mural to do so, is it ok to use rubbing alcohol on a painted wall? (the area without the mural is light blue)

Jaime on March 30, 2018:

Hi, someone drew with posca pens on a wall outside my house which I want to get rid of ASAP. What would be the best product to remove this? Thanks in advance

Jennifer Jones on March 19, 2018:

So, crazy but scrubbing bubbles works wonders on walls tables ect. things you do not want to put such caustic materials on, hard surfaces, floors.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on January 06, 2018:

if its dry then use denatured alcohol or 90%+ isopropyl rubbing alcohol. You could assist the process by softening paint stain with near boiling water first before trying solvents. I cannot recommend lacquer thinner or acetone because I never used them on carpet. If you have a scrap of the carpet or a hidden spot you can see if lacquer thinner will affect it or not. Good luck!

Alex on January 04, 2018:

Hello I'm moving out of my apartment and I need to get a small stain of acrylic paint out of the tan carpet but I just don't know what to use

OrlyVilla on October 05, 2017:


Congrats for the nice webpage.

In order to remove dried acrylic paint, Have you ever test Butyl Glycol?


Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on September 25, 2017:

thank you I appreciate that. Its amazing what one can learn by trial and error.

Craig on September 24, 2017:

Great site. very helpful

Miranda on June 04, 2017:

Redoing my 68 Beetle. The previous owners pairing it an awful yellow and didn't tape any thing up including the chrome/aluminum trim on the side of the doors. Finger nail polish remover was my first go to but it's just taking forever. Lots of scrubbing to get it to lift. I'm considering getting stronger acetone maybe from a hardware store. My main question is, do you think I could soak it or will it ruin the chrome/aluminum finish?

jbosh1972 on April 20, 2017:


The problem is that acrylic and latex are nearly the same. Latex is water based paint with acrylic and polyvinyl acetate blended. Premium latex paint is 100% acrylic resin so you pay the price.

I do have good news though. If the walls are not painted with a flat paint you still MIGHT get the acrylic paint off the latex. It is a week old and dry to the touch but acrylics don't lose all there water for 30 days and they may take a year to completely cure! So first, take hot water with dish soap in it and apply to acrylic paint. If still you have trouble mix alcohol and water to 50/50 and be very careful. I would not get any more aggressive than that. If you try both of those without success, you are just better off sanding area flat and re painting over with the latex original color. Good luck.

Karilpg on April 18, 2017:

Thanks for your tips. I painted cabinets with acrylic paint and didn't realize I had accidentally got some paint on the wall, which I am thinking is latex. It's dried for a week. Can I do anything to get the acrylic paint off without removing the latex? Please no sarcastic comments, I know it was a dumb thing to do.

Al Thompson on April 13, 2017:

Some idiot painted a fine reparable violin with solid black acrylic several years ago. I want to resurrect and repair it but must first get the black acrylic off, hopefully without damaging the original finish or fine wood too much. ... Any suggestions? (besides sandpaper)

Carolyn on April 11, 2017:

I have been successful using Murphys Oil. Less toxic. If you get it within the first 24 hours, nearly all of it comes out of clothing. I've used this on my plastic tile floor months later with success. For clothing, make a puddle of Murphys Oil on paint stain, let sit, rub in gentle, hand wash rubbing, I imagine if you had an old fashion scrub board it might take less time. My brushes come out like new even after months of abuse. I just soak the over a 24 hour period working oil through the brushes now and then, not nessecary to dilute.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on March 19, 2017:

Mineral spirits will not do unless the acrylic was specifically formulated with it. Lacquer thinner or acetone would work. If possible, I would paint over the blemish with a chalk paint or equivalent that can be lightly sanded smooth and color over it.

Diane on March 16, 2017:

Hello, can I use mineral spirits to remove acrylic paint from paper? I made a mistake in my adult coloring book and I don't know how to remove the acrylic paint from my page all colored with colored pencils. I realized my acrylic paint was too old and I did not get a nice result. I tried to remove it with a sharp knife but the paper comes with it. Any suggestion? Thank you!

Patrick Lambert on February 12, 2017:

Hi Jason!

I have a polyurethane resin model that I have painted using acrylic paint and an enamel primer. I hate the paint job and want to start over. I tried applying some acetone free nail polish remover onto my model and rubbing the area with a cloth and it works, it brings off the acrylic paint revealing the primer, and if I run harder it brings off the primer.

However, I have read that nail polish remover isn't ideal as it can eat the resin, so then I stumbled upon your article.

Would Denatured alcohol or rubbing alcohol remove the paint and primer without damaging the model? My model has some really intricate detailing and I would like to keep the detail, so would a toothbrush suffice?



Mike on February 08, 2017:


I have acrylic based solid stain on my driveway that has been peeling off all over and I'm forced to strip them all off. What is the most economical way to remove them? I have tried soy gel paint remover and that seems to work pretty good but they are very expensive ($2000). I'm going to first try stripping it with a 3100 psi power washer but I'm sure I also need to use a chemical stripper. Thanks.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on January 21, 2017:


I was making some titanium white acrylic since I have a pound of 99.5% pure titanium dioxide from my soap making days that I need to get rid of. I actually enjoy getting messy making paint BTW! Anyhow, I discovered, I could scrub my tools and such with a slurry of laundry detergent powder. I will eventually write a blog post or a hub about it.

Vinca Voda on January 10, 2017:

Thank you, Jason. I found this very helpful. I want to add one more thing that anyone can use on dried acrylic . It's not liquid, but it is extremely useful and safe. Regular baby wipes (Pampers) can clean dry acrylic from plastic, glass, laminate, metal, ceramic and any other non-porous material. For textile I use alcohol (as you recommended) and warm water and it works. I wish there is something affordable for brushes. Ideas? I teach art. Thanks, again.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on November 29, 2016:


I am glad that you got alcohol to work. It is a fluid that is mild enough to be manageable but it is still flammable. Although acetone and lacquer thinner are far more active, their fumes are a nuisance especially indoors. Those drastic solvents are a last resort really.

Mary G Connor on November 29, 2016:

I placed some folded sheets I used for drop cloths over the back of my "leather-like" futon, thinking any drops of acrylic paint residue was dry. They ended up sitting there for about 4 days. When I picked them up to put them away, I found that wet paint transferred to the futon; it covered and area if about 6 sq.ins. Some appeared wet so I squirted it with liquid soap and used a scrub brush. There was still a lot of dried paint remaining. After reading this article, I applied the rubbing alcohol to a coarse cloth, rubbing spots in as circular motion. The paint came right off! I want to kiss this author!

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on October 31, 2016:

I have no idea. How is the leather bonded? Acetone or lacquer thinner will dissolve most glues. Anything strong enough to dissolve leather will dissolve human flesh so beware.

Cassie on October 29, 2016:

What can I use to remove bonded leather?

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on August 01, 2016:


If water is working a little bit then you are in luck. So long as the brown paint is not allowed to fully cure, I would try adding a bit of dish soap( few drops) to hot water. If that is still not satisfactory, cautiously start adding alcohol to water in increasing ratios but do not damage underlying white paint. Start with a mix of 80% water and 20% alcohol and work from there.

Sarah Stone on July 28, 2016:

Help! I painted a brown tree on white painted closet doors and I'm trying to get it off. Water works a little bit, but is there a faster way I can get it off??

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on October 26, 2015:

@Randy, Plastics is kind of tricky. I would try denatured alcohol in an inconspicous test spot first. Other options would be ammonia and water at 200 degrees.

Randy on October 24, 2015:

I am trying to get off an air brushed muriel off of the top of a car headliner. It looks like plastic. What is the #1 thing that will get it off? Please help!

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on August 01, 2015:

Once an acrylic paint had dried it is already cross linked. You will be able to dissolve dried acrylic paint with solvents like acetone but it will not work properly as a paint. I wrote this hub merely to help people remove small stains from clothing and furniture

Angel on July 27, 2015:

A Bucket Of Acrylic Paint I Wnt 2 Used Is Totally Blocked,what Will I Use To Dissolve It So That I Will Use It To Paint My Store,help Pls?

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on March 24, 2015:

Hopefully the tank of the motorcycle is painted with polyurethane. First try hot soapy water and a sponge. If that fails try ammonia but test a small area first.

ondrak on March 19, 2015:

Please help! On my motorcycle tank there are some white paintings made by using a Schmincke AEROCOLOR acrylic ink pen left by its previous owner. I want to get rid of it but it is on tank paint and I want to preserve that without any damage. Problem is, I assume, that layer underneath acrylic letters that I want to dissolve is probably also acrylic so any effort will end up with damage on the tank paint surface. Am I right? Is there some possible way how to do it? Thanks!

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on February 12, 2015:

silicone rubber should be easy enough to remove acrylic paint. I would try soapy hot water and if that fails, denatured alcohol.

Aisyah on February 10, 2015:

Hello, what solution should i use to remove paint on silicone rubber surface? I assume that the paint used on the silicone is acrylic paint too? Please help me!

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on June 25, 2014:

HDPE or PET plastics are satisfactory for handling acetone.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on June 25, 2014:

Acetone would work but it will take considerable time. This solvent evaporates very fast. You might try Methyl Ethyl Ketone or Lacquer Thinner. The later two are more toxic so take precautions.

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on June 25, 2014:

That is complete nonsense. Acetone is a by-product of carbohydrate metabolism. Acetone is probably less toxic than ethyl alcohol.

Leander on November 23, 2013:

Painterman, acetone will do the trick with ease. I'm not sure how much you would need for a 90cm cube, but when buying it in larger quantities the price per litre drops to laughable lows. I think the more difficult question will be what kind of container you would need to use for the project as acetone attacks most of the plastics available.

painterman on September 11, 2013:

I've got this art project I'm working on that requires me to dissolve a piece of paint that's roughly a 90x90 cm cube does anyone know anything that will dissolve a solid block of acrylic paint?

rc on June 17, 2013:

acetone is dangerous. 1/4 tsp in a football field 1 foot deep in water is unsafe

Eric on April 23, 2013:

I have plastic pump sprays with dried acrylic wood stain inside the container, nozzles and hoses. Do you think the thinner will be successful or is it likely that these sprayers are shot? Should I use straight thinner or a ratio will water? Thanks

RTalloni on March 05, 2013:

Thanks much for I seem to get it everywhere when I paint!

Wayne Tully from Hull City United Kingdom on October 30, 2012:

Very useful this...cheers now!

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on August 19, 2012:

What? That is lazy mans talk. You must be made of money! Personally, dried acrylic paint is one of the easy things to remove. Try removing ink stains. So far isopropyl is the best thing for ink and it only works to remove 75% of the stain!

Ernesto Bueno on August 17, 2012:

Too much work. Get rid of the jeans and buy a new pair.

Rachel Koski Nielsen from Pennsylvania to Minnesota on July 19, 2012:

Voted up, useful, interesting. Nice work! I love painting and I'm always making such a mess with it, this info will be really useful to me next time I catch the bug to paint ;)

Jason (author) from Indianapolis, IN. USA on June 30, 2012:

Thank you. The thing to keep in mind is that acrylic paint is an acrylic polymer emulsion. If the paint is still tacky then solvents that mix with water like acetone and alcohol work. For completely hardened paint, acetone or lacquer thinner work best. Ammonia is not a solvent but a reactive medium. It is alkaline or high pH and reverses the polymerization of the acrylic.

bonytooth on June 23, 2012:

I spent a lot of time searching the internet for options to remove dried acrylic paint from plastic sheeting. This article is by some margin the best researched and best presented of any that I found.