Exorcising Banshees : Removing Oil Paint from Clothing


It’s  the risk that all painters take as soon as the lid come off: The danger that this paint could end up anywhere. Of course, you’re aiming for the canvas, but one moment of inattention and your cuff’s in it.

If it’s acrylic paint, a speedy rinse with water before the paint dries will do the trick, but what do you do with oil paint? And what can you do with oil paint on clothing when it’s escaped your notice and already begun to dry?

We all know that prevention is the best cure, in which case: Take off your favourite cocktail dress and smock-up, people.

But if you love to take heady risks, like painting unprotected just moments before leaving for a fancy night out, here’s  what tools you should have in your emergency spill kit:

  • Baby Wipes

  • Clean rag

  • Cotton Tips / Ear buds

  • White Spirits (a.k.a. Dry Cleaning Fluid)

Nothing out-of-the-ordinary there.

So here’s the break down to avoid a break down when your brand new dark-denim jeans that are actually long enough for your over-the-top tall legs get a spot of white paint on them (hypothetically speaking):

Step 1:

Stop wailing like a banshee and reach for a clean cloth or rag to pinch up any excess wet paint that you can.

Step 2:

If it’s a fresh find, a good going over with a baby-wipe can be surprisingly effective.

Step 3:

If you want to be sure, take off the item of clothing and grab some cotton tips and the dry cleaning fluid.

In a well-ventilated area, far away from flame-throwers or blow-torches, soak the end of a cotton tip in the white spirits. Using small, circular movements (of the cotton tip, not you) work gently over the affected area.

Use the dry end of the cotton tip in the same way to soak up moisture before beginning again with a fresh cotton tip.

Step 4:

Put your clothing in the wash to remove the pong of dry cleaning fluid, and you’re done. Now go and put on a smock and stop thinking you’re somehow repellent to oil paint. You’re not.

I find this method yields surprisingly good results. If I look hard at my dark denim jeans I can see a vague patch that’s a shade lighter, but I think it’s only because I know what happened that fateful day when someone let a banshee into the house.

Does anyone else have other methods of removing oil paint? Let me know in the comments section below.


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