Will Rubbing Alcohol Remove Acrylic Paint? 4 Facts

Rubbing Alcohol To Remove Paint

It’s a Saturday afternoon, and you’ve finally got some free time to work on that landscape painting that you’ve been dreaming about all month.

The sun is out, the weather is fair, you’ve got a cold drink, your favorite music is on, and it’s a picture-perfect day.

Everything is going well until- SPLAT! You suddenly realize that you’ve been wearing your favorite shirt the whole time, and now it’s stained with a giant blob of paint.

For some, this could be enough to ruin the whole day. Before you let it get you down, though, there’s a super simple solution that’s guaranteed to remove that paint. 

So can rubbing alcohol remove paint? Yes, rubbing alcohol can remove paint. Rubbing alcohol is one of the most versatile paint solvents on the market and can easily remove paint.

Simply douse a bit of the rubbing alcohol on the acrylic paint stain, let it soak for a bit, and then you should be able to wipe it up with a cloth, paper towel, or paint scraper. 

Will Rubbing Alcohol Remove Acrylic Paint?

In today’s article, I will be talking about how you can use plain old-fashioned store-bought rubbing alcohol to remove acrylic paint stains.

From soft surfaces such as clothing to hard surfaces like concrete, alcohol will get rid of the mess so you can be as creative as you’d like! 

How Does Rubbing Alcohol Remove Paint? 

Acrylic paint is one of the most common paints used by artists. From beginners to professionals, acrylic paint is the medium of choice for about half of the world’s painters.

The thing that makes acrylic such an easy medium to work with is that it dries quickly and can be easily painted over if you make any mistakes (unlike oil paint which can take hours or even days to dry). 

Acrylic paints also tend to be a bit more affordable than oil paints since they use water and synthetic polymers as a base instead of expensive oils.

However, acrylic paints have one caveat that can make them slightly more problematic- since they dry faster, they’re often a lot harder to clean. Wet paint is usually simple to clean off; once it dries, though, it’s another story entirely. 

Many artists have just accepted that they have a messy hobby. They usually have a separate set of clothes, a space with some plastic or canvas laid out, or have their own art studio space where they can be as messy as they want. No matter how prepared you are, though, sometimes accidents happen. 

When paint spills on your favorite shoes, clothes, furniture, or any other surface it shouldn’t be on, you’ll probably panic a little bit. If you catch it early enough, you can usually remove the acrylic paint with a wet cloth. 

However, if it’s had time to dry, then your best bet is going to be using a bit of rubbing alcohol. You don’t need anything special. Regular isopropyl rubbing alcohol that you can find at the grocery store is usually good enough to get the job done. 

Simply douse a bit of the rubbing alcohol on the messy spot, let it soak for a bit, and then you should be able to wipe it up with a cloth, paper towel, or paint scraper. 

Rubbing alcohol As acrylic paint remover

Rubbing alcohol can remove acrylic paint so well because acrylic paint is made up of a blend of low-polar and polar ingredients: acrylic plastics, water, and pigment. Since likes dissolve likeswater can remove acrylic paint while it’s still wet. Once the water evaporates and the paint dries, though, only the low-polar ingredients remain. 

Isopropyl rubbing alcohol is the perfect solvent because it’s a blend of both polar and non-polar particles.

This means that the alcohol can target all of the ingredients in acrylic paint to thoroughly remove it from whatever surface it’s on! 

Long story short- if alcohol can remove car paint, it can definitely remove acrylic paint! 

Several other chemical solvents can be used to remove acrylic paint, but these can be harmful to the skin (or when inhaled) and can be rather expensive.

Conversely, alcohol is safe to touch and can be purchased for a couple of bucks at your local discount store.

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Will Rubbing Alcohol Remove Oil Paint As Well? 

Yes! Since isopropyl alcohol contains a high concentration of non-polar particles, it’s the perfect solvent for dissolving the non-polar particles that are most prevalent in oil paints.

Since oil paint dries slower than acrylic paint, you’ll also find that it’s even easier to remove than acrylic paint. 

How Long Does It Take For The Rubbing Alcohol To Work? 

Although rubbing alcohol can remove acrylic paint from just about any surface, it may take a bit of time depending on how thick the spill is and whether or not the paint is wet, dry, or in between (the curing stage). 

For example, if it’s just a brushstroke or a few drops, it should come up in less than 60 seconds. However, if you spilled a thick glob of paint that’s had plenty of time to dry, you may have to let the alcohol soak on the spill for a few minutes. 

After the alcohol has soaked for a few minutes, take a cloth or paint scraper, and slowly start to scrub the acrylic. If the spill is thick, then you may have to remove the paint layer by layer.

Soak it for 3 minutes, scrape, soak it again, and scrape some more. Remember, it will always come out; it just might take some perseverance. 

Can Rubbing Alcohol Remove Acrylic Paint From Clothing? 

Rubbing alcohol is a great tool for removing acrylic paint stains from clothing (and other stains, for that matter).

If the paint has dried, then you may need to douse the spot in alcohol and let it soak for a while, scrubbing it every couple of minutes. 

In summary

However, you should be careful when applying alcohol- especially if your clothing is new and still has a lot of dye.

When it soaks for too long, the alcohol can often act as a bleaching agent, and you may end up with a faded spot after.

Chances are, though, if you’ve already got paint on your clothes, a little bit of rubbing alcohol won’t do any more damage. 

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