Washability of Acrylic Paint on Various Materials: How Permanent Is It?

Acrylic paint is used in many different applications for its low cost, durability, and ease of application. However, it’s important to know whether or not the acrylic paint will come off on your clothes or skin when you are finished with your project. This article examines this question by discussing the washability of acrylic paint on various surfaces (skin, fabric, plastic, etc.). I’ll also discuss tips for cleaning these surfaces because acrylic paint can be challenging to remove once dried.

Acrylic paint is essentially permanent once dried; it is not washable with soap and water on most surfaces. Soap and water will soften acrylic paint and allow it to be scraped or rubbed off, but to remove acrylic paint effectively from most surfaces, you should use an alcohol-based solution. 

The washability of acrylic paint varies depending on the material you are trying to remove it from. Acrylic paint adheres to many surfaces and reacts differently depending on each. Continue reading if you want to know more specifics about the washability of acrylic paint when dried on skin, fabric, plastic, wood, shoes, ceramic, and glass!

Is Acrylic Paint Washable On Skin?

All artists get some paint on their skin when creating. Wet Acrylic paint washes readily off skin with soap and water since it is water-soluble when wet.

Dry acrylic paint is not technically washable with soap and water on skin. Soap and water will soften the paint enough to allow you to rub it off your skin. Due to this and the oils in your skin, the paint will come off eventually.

If you want a faster solution, you can massage some baby oil onto the paint to help loosen it. The quickest option is to use rubbing alcohol, but this does tend to dry out your skin.

Is Acrylic Paint Washable On Fabric?

Again, we all get paint on our clothes! If you catch the paint when it is wet, it will wash off easily with soap and water, but acrylic paint dries quickly on fabric, so it can be hard to do that.

Once dry, acrylic paint is not washable and will not come out completely with just soap and water. You can mix a 50/50 solution of detergent and alcohol and dab/rub onto the stain gently until it lifts, then wash the fabric with soap and water to remove the alcohol.

Denatured alcohol will work better than rubbing alcohol because it is a stronger solvent.

The paint will likely crack and peel over time on fabric, but it is reasonably permanent.

Is Acrylic Paint Washable On Shoes (Synthetic, Leather, or Fabric)?

Washing wet acrylic paint immediately off shoes is easy because the paint is water-soluble when wet.

When acrylic paint is dried, the paint is not washable off of shoes. You can use a 50/50 solution of detergent to alcohol (denatured is best) and gently rub or dab onto the stain on any shoe surface. Clean the area with warm, clean water after using the alcohol. All of these surfaces can tolerate light use of the alcohol solution but don’t saturate the fabric. You want to soak a rag or cotton ball and dab the stain until it lifts.

As with fabric, the paint will start to crack and peel over time if left on the shoe, so though it is not washable, it is not exactly “permanent” without some additional steps.

Is Acrylic Paint Washable On Plastic?

Wet acrylic paint rinses off plastic easily.

Dried acrylic paint is not washable off of plastic, but it can be usually be removed with a 50/50 solution of water and denatured alcohol. In most cases, rubbing this mixture onto the paint will work, but if this does not work, you can use a scraper to remove the paint that is softened from the solution.

Is Acrylic Paint Washable On Wood?

Dried acrylic paint is not washable with soap and water on wood. The paint can be softened and removed with a scraper, or it can be sanded off. You can use a heat gun (large scale) or warm water and soap (small scale) to soften the paint, then scrape it off with a wood scraper.

Because wood is porous, acrylic paint adheres exceptionally well to wood, making it somewhat harder to remove than it is from smoother, non-porous surfaces.

Is Acrylic Paint Washable On Ceramic?

Acrylic paint is not washable on ceramic. Though this is the case, it can soften and start to peel off over time.

To remove acrylic paint from ceramic, soften the paint with soap and warm water, then scrape the paint off.

Is Acrylic Paint Washable On Glass?

Acrylic paint is not washable on glass, though if the glass is oily or dirty before painting, it will not adhere as well. Glass is also non-porous, so in general, adherence is worse on glass.

To easily clean dried acrylic paint off of glass, soak a rag in warm water and soap, then saturate the paint to soften it. Once softened, remove with a glass scraper.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Permanent

As you can see, though acrylic paint is not “washable,” it can be removed with an alcohol solution from most materials, or it can be softened and scraped relatively easily.

To make acrylic paint more permanent, you can add a medium specifically for the surface (like fabric medium), you can lightly sand and/or prime the surface before painting, and/or you can seal the paint with a varnish or acrylic sealant. Also, you can “heat seal” acrylic paint by baking (for glass/ceramic) or iron (for fabrics).

So, though acrylic paint is not washable, it is not technically permanent either. In most cases, it can be removed with an alcohol and water or detergent solution or scraped off. Acrylic paint can be made more permanent if desired with other steps, though! I hope you learned something today! 

Now it is time for YOU to get Crafty with Ashy!


Hi! I’m Ashy. I am a Christian, wife, mom, and physical therapist. I am also an amateur painter, baker, crocheter, and miscellaneous crafter. I hope to be able to share some of my enthusiasm for creating with you and to inspire YOU to begin, continue, or grow YOUR creative outlet!

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