How to Remove Paint from Polyester Fabrics


Paul asked: How do I remove white exterior house paint from my dark blue polyester running shorts? This happened five years ago. I wash them by hand. The fabric is Micro-Poly (lightweight 100% microfiber polyester).

Removing paint stains that have been in place for several years can be a real challenge. However, just as you can strip old paint off of a wooden door, you can strip it out of the fabric. Though polyester is a tough material, it is hard to determine what the effects of the chemicals will be. Because of this, it is crucial to always test a small, hidden area first to ensure there is no damage to the color or fibers of the material.

You Will Need:

  • Paint thinner for the specific type of paint (if no thinner is specified on the label, use turpentine)
  • Large bowl
  • Cup with spout
  • Water
  • Laundry detergent
  • Rubber gloves

Steps to Remove the Paint:

  1. The best way to remove dried-on paint that has been there for a long time is to use paint thinner to break it down. Look at the label on the paint can to determine the appropriate thinner to use. If no thinner is recommended, start with turpentine.
  2. Begin by pouring about a half a cup of the paint thinner into the cup with a spout.
  3. Spread the fabric over a bowl so the stain is in the center.
  4. Pour the thinner through the stained area on the fabric.
  5. Rinse with clean water.
  6. Repeat if needed.
  7. When the paint is removed, apply laundry detergent to the area and rub gently with your fingers.
  8. Rinse with clean water.
  9. Launder as usual.
  10. Dispose of all used paint thinner appropriately.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Always protect your hands and use caution when working with paint thinners. Many of them are flammable and must be disposed of correctly.
  • This method is safe for removing paint from all washable fabrics.


  1. Carl says:

    Nail polish remover WITHOUT acetone worked for my wife’s polyester jacket. Thank God, I’m in the clear now. Next time I do outdoor painting, I’m going to send my wife to Auction World on the other side of town. Everything is good; we’re all smiles now.

  2. Alex says:

    Thanks for this Carl. Could I use turpentine in place of paint thinner?

  3. Beth says:

    My granddaughter got black nail polish on her curtains (90% polyester/10% linen). Can I use paint thinner to remove polish? I have tried almost everything and have removed a lot of polish, but the curtains are white with a touch of gray. Any ideas would be appreciated.

  4. Melanie says:

    This is the article that you need: How to Remove Nail Polish from Fabrics.
    If you tried all of those methods and still would like to try paint thinner, that is a possibility as well. As you can see from the current article, paint thinner can be useful for removing some stains from fabric, but only if it is safe to use on the specific fabric that you have. Test the paint thinner first on a small, hidden area of the curtains to check for any damage.

  5. Sam says:

    Hey. I got acrylic pint on my favorite Divergent blanket that my mom got me for Christmas. It’s a fuzzy blanket and 100% polyester. I tried washing it and using nail polish remover, but it’s still there! I need it off; it looks horrible! Please, if you have any ideas, let me know… Thank you…

  6. Lee says:

    I got latex white wall paint on a brand new green polyester jacket. Used rubbing alcohol. Worked great. Couldn’t believe it.

  7. Melissa P says:

    This worked perfect for me on my daughters 100% polyester jackets. Had to scrub with detergent, but it all came out!

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