How to Clean Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a quick-drying, water-based paint. It can stain easily and is vital to clean quickly once you have finished with them.

Paint

On paintbrushes

Rinse the bristles of the paintbrush in clean water. Snap your wrist to shake any excess water off of the bristles. 

Gently rub some soap into the bristles if any paint remains. Rub the bristles in circles on the palm of your hand to ensure the soap permeates all areas. Rinse this off thoroughly under hot water.

Smooth the bristles of the brush between your thumb and index finger to return the bristles to their original position.

Lay the brush flat on a hand towel and allow it to dry completely. Once it is bone dry, you can store the brush in a pot or container with the bristles facing upwards.

If you have allowed acrylic paint to dry on your brush, try soaking it in hot water to soften the residue.  This will make it easier to pull off with your fingers. Alternatively, you could soak the brush in a white spirit and then rinse well.

The tubes

In order to prevent the lids of your paint tubes from getting stuck, it is important to clean your tubes after use. You should use a damp rag to wipe the threads of the tube clean before screwing on the cap. 

If your tube cap is already stuck, gently submerge the tube in hot water until you are able to remove it. 

Your palette

We would recommend cleaning all painting equipment immediately once you have finished using it.

This is because it will be much easier to clean before the paints have dried. 

Wood palette

As acrylic paint is water-based, it can easily soak into the porous surface of a wooden palette. For this reason, it is generally not advised to use a wooden palette as they can be hard to clean. 

If you already have a wooden palette you wish to use, cover it with plastic wrap to make clean-up a breeze!

Plastic, glass, and ceramic palettes

If the acrylic paint is still wet, wipe it off using a paper towel. After this, you can wash the palette with hot soapy water. 

If the acrylic paint has dried you can usually just peel it off. If not, here is an alternative to try. Using a palette knife, scrape off any excess paint that you do not wish to keep.

Rinse the palette under hot water. If there is still excess paint remaining, use an abrasive sponge and some dish soap to gently scrub it clean. 

If it is still not coming off, spray some Windex onto the paint and allow it to sit for 2-3 minutes. Wipe with a damp cloth.

If you wish to keep paint on your palette to use during your next session, consider covering it loosely with plastic wrap. This will prevent the water from evaporating and will keep the paint fresh. 

Your palette knives

The easiest way to clean palette knives is by soaking them in a bowl of very hot water until the paint has softened. Using a razor blade or sharp knife, scrape the paint residue off. 

If there is any excess remaining, use an abrasive sponge and soapy water to scrub it off. 

Clothes

If you notice any paint has made its way onto your clothes, you should wash the affected area immediately. If you allow the paint to dry then it will seep into the fibers and become near impossible to get rid of. Use some soapy water and scrub the paint spot well before rinsing. 

If it does not come off like this, add some laundry detergent or stain remover and scrub in using an old toothbrush. 

If the stain has dried there are 2 things you could try as a last resort. The first is to soak the stain in rubbing alcohol and creating friction through rubbing it in your hands. The second method works in the same way, but you use either window cleaner or ammonia instead of rubbing alcohol. 

Carpet

There are 3 main methods to remove acrylic paint from carpet.

Rubbing alcohol and glycerin

Your first step is to scrub the affected area with a soft brush or putty knife. Vacuum up all of the paint scrapings and then assess the residual damage.

Dampen a cloth using rubbing alcohol and blot the stained carpet. Completely soak the area before leaving it to sit for 15-20 minutes. 

Once this time has elapsed, blot the damp carpet with a clean cloth. Continue this process until the cloth is clean. 

Grab your glycerin and another cloth. Repeat the blotting process with the glycerine and continue blotting until no more paint is lifting. Leave it to sit for 2 hours and then repeat the entire procedure if necessary.

Steam clean  the carpet for best results. 

Vinegar and warm water

Add 1 teaspoon of laundry detergent per cup of warm water to a spray bottle. Spray the affected area of carpet and dab with a clean cloth.

Gently scrub the stain with an old toothbrush and continue to blot with your cloth.

Make a solution of 1:10 vinegar and water. Get a second clean cloth and pour on some of your vinegar. Dab the stain with this cloth and use a dry sponge to absorb excess moisture. 

Once you are satisfied with the clean, rinse with cold water and leave to dry.

Acetone and spot cleaner

Add a few drops of acetone to the stain and leave to sit for 8 minutes. Blot the stain with a dry, clean cloth. Replace the cloth with a fresh one when it becomes saturated with paint. 

Continue to repeat this process until the stain is gone. 

Add a few drops of spot cleaner and scrub with a toothbrush to create a lather. Leave to work for 5 minutes. 

Using a steam vacuum, go over the affected area to lift the spot cleaner. Repeat as necessary until perfectly clean.

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