The creative use of fabric paint is one way to customize fabric or clothes with unique prints. And if it is your first time, there’s always the fear of the paint running in the washing.
Or maybe you are worried about something different, like hating the result and being unable to wash it out.
So, does fabric paint wash off fabric? No, fabric paint that is applied and set correctly does not wash off the fabric. The paint is designed to bond permanently.
However, fabric paint will wash off if still wet or if it hasn’t been set. Once set, a more laborious procedure is necessary to remove it from clothes successfully.
Before embarking on fabric painting, keep reading for some guidance and reassurance. We’ll cover all the basics of using fabric paint, setting it permanently, and removing it purposefully.
How Long Does Fabric Paint Last?
How long fabric paint lasts on fabric depends entirely on the application, timing, and intention.
Technically, fabric paint is permanent because it is not intended to run. Otherwise, the artwork would be ruined once the fabric is washed. Not to mention discoloring other articles in the washer.
If applied correctly (which we shall tell you how in the next part of the article), a fabric paint bond has outstanding longevity. Fabric paint is typically acrylic paint with fabric medium. Acrylic paint is only water-soluble while still in its fluid state.
Once acrylic paint dries or cures, it forms a tough film with inseparable bonds. The paint cannot be dissolved by water which makes fabric paint suitable for the job it is designated for.
However, the “permanence” is long-term but will encounter wear and tear. Fabric paint could last up to 5 years, maybe more or less, depending on how you care for the fabric.
As long as the painted fabric is regularly laundered, some peeling should be expected eventually.
If you are worried about accidental splashes staining your clothes, here’s some good news. You can wash out fabric paint easily while it is still wet, as long as it is water-based.
How is that possible? Because most fabric paint is acrylic paint, a water-soluble kind of paint.
But that also means the chances of washing out fabric paint dwindle as it dries. Notwithstanding, there’s still hope for removal, as you shall learn later in the article.
How To Prevent Fabric Paint From Washing Off
Painting designs on fabric is always super fun until you wash your garment and all the color runs. That’s what happens when fabric paint isn’t used correctly.
You must ensure everything is done as per instructions to avoid such messy mishaps that waste your time, effort, and money.
By everything, we do not mean just the setting of the paint. Your fabric paint could wash off because of a mistake made as far back as when choosing the paint.
The following steps will guide you on how to make your fabric paint set permanently.
Step 1: Choose A Suitable Fabric
Consider the type of fabric you want to decorate because not all materials paint well.
Natural fabrics like cotton, linen, silk, and wool outshine their synthetic counterparts. They accept paint more readily, give the best results in terms of color saturation, and the bond is far superior and durable.
Step 2: Ensure You Are Using Quality Fabric Paint
You might be tempted to grab any type of paint available but do not. Specialty paints are manufactured for a reason.
Fabric paint is adapted for adhesion to fabric and has something in its formula that regular paints don’t.
Unlike regular paint, it stays flexible after drying to enhance the wearability and comfort of the fabric after painting while preventing cracking. In addition, it doesn’t bleed nor fade from UV exposure.
Therefore, ensure your paint is labeled as fabric paint, whether it’s a brush-on paint, spray, or paint marker. Choose a good quality brand to get the best results.
Also, check the fabrics listed as compatible with the paint brand.
Step 3: Prepare The Fabric
Like painting any other surface, it is advisable to start with a clean fabric. Even if the fabric or clothing is new from the store, it must be prewashed.
New textile is often lined with starch, conditioners, and other chemical treatments. These hinder paint adhesion if not stripped prior to painting.
For this reason, you must clean the fabric first and rinse it thoroughly.
In addition, washing enables you to paint on the final size of the fabric since water tends to resize some materials. When the fabric is shrunk after painting, it could destabilize the paint layer causing it to lift or crack.
You can iron the fabric for a flat crease-free layout. Otherwise, fabrics like denim don’t need pressing.
Also, remember to put barriers between the layers of fabric. You can use pieces of cardboard. It prevents color transfer from the top to the layer underneath.
Step 4: Apply Thin Coats
Painting on fabric is pretty much the same as on paper or canvas, except that the texture is slightly rough.
After drawing your design (if not using stencil or stamps), you want to dampen the fabric lightly before painting. Moisture aids paint in penetrating better into the weave.
The paint consistency is often ideal for fabric painting so do not thin it any further. Apply your fabric paint in thin, light coats. The thicker the layer of paint, the higher its chances of getting marred or cracked.
Step 5: Allow Ample Drying Time
There aren’t any special rules for drying painted fabric. However, patience is critical.
We know the enthusiasm at this stage, and you just can’t wait to wear that denim jacket or dress your throw pillows. But if not fully dry, the paint job could easily be ruined by a simple action like brushing against something.
Allow a minimum of 24 hours for the fabric paint to dry adequately. You might need more dry time if you are experiencing extra humid and cool conditions.
Step 6: Set The Fabric Paint
The final and most crucial step after drying is setting the paint. You can permanently set fabric paint using heat, and there are multiple ways of doing it.
The first one is to press the painted area. Not directly though. You can use a hot iron and press the inside out of clothing or the opposite side of the fabric.
If you cannot flip the fabric over to the other side, say in the case of fabric shoes or a bag, there is an option of blowing hot air over the paint.
You could use a hairdryer or heat gun. Plug it in, hold it a couple of inches away from the fabric and hover around the paint for a minute or so. The blowing hot air works as well as pressing.
Always read the manufacturer’s instructions first, as the directions might vary from one brand of fabric paint to another. If setting guidelines are not provided, then use these general guidelines.
How To Purposefully Wash Off Fabric Paint
It beats logic to paint fabric only to want to wash out the paint, right? However, some circumstances warrant purposeful washing off fabric paint.
Perhaps you accidentally stained the clothes you were wearing, or maybe you hate how the overall design turned out.
The good news is you can get rid of the paint, but how easy or difficult it will be depends on the following:
- If the paint is still wet
- If it is a water-based paint
- If it was not heat set
Affirming these three things can almost guarantee you an easy time washing out fabric paint. But time is of the essence, and you must act fast. So, let’s go straight to what you need to do if the paint is still wet:
- Take a paper towel or sponge and blot the excess paint off the surface.
- Hold the fabric under cool running water to wash off the remaining paint.
- You can rub the stained spot between your finger or palms to free any paint stuck between the weave.
- Most of the paint should have come off. If not, use a little dish soap to finish the job.
- Rinse using clean running water.
Unfortunately, for those attempting to remove dried fabric paint, the task ahead is daunting. The longer the stain is left unattended, the more resistant it becomes.
It is even more complicated if the painted fabric was washed in hot water, dried in a dryer, or ironed. That only means the color is already heat-set.
Also, if you opt for oil-based fabric paint, washing it out using water is futile. In such cases, you’ll need to bring on board solvents with paint-stripping power to help restore your fabric.
It is worth noting that some solvents can be very harsh on delicate fibers like silk. You’ll want such an article handled by professionals if painted accidentally.
The best paint strippers include turpentine, paint thinner, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, baking soda, and acetone. These break down paint, so it is easier to wash out.
Here is how to remove fabric paint that has dried or set:
- Scrap off the top layer of the paint with the help of a metal scraper or spoon.
- Squirt the solvent over the fabric paint until saturated and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Some solvents like baking soda and vinegar must be diluted in a bit of water first.
- Once the paint starts to loosen up, use a sponge to dab it off. Remove any visible pieces of paint physically.
- Use a soft bristle brush to scrub stubborn areas and dislodge paint from deep inside the weave.
- Run a faucet over the fabric to rinse out the paint and solvent until the water starts to run clear.
- If still stained, repeat the entire process from steps 2-5.
- Wash the fabric with detergent in cool water and then rinse.
We hope this article has been informative enough to address all your fabric painting concerns. Now, go on and unleash your creativity with confidence!