How to Get Tempera Paint out of Clothes [8 Easy Ways]

Did your child paint in class, and now they have tempera paint on their clothes? Were you painting with them or painting a project on your own and getting some paint on your clothes?

Have no fear. You can easily remove tempera paint from any item of clothing.

Tempera paint is a water-based paint. It is generally considered a washable paint.

This paint can be difficult to remove once it has dried onto clothes. It is easier to remove the paint stain when it is still fresh.

You can easily remove tempera paint with many household items you probably have lying around the house. Before removing the stain, remove any excess paint on the fabric.

The excess paint can spread and make the stain worse and more difficult to remove.

In this article, I will explain tempera paint and how you can remove stains from your clothes.

Please remember that you may need to try multiple remedies to remove the paint stain fully from your clothes.

how to remove tempera paint out of clothes

What is Tempera Paint?

Tempera paint is the perfect paint for any kid’s art project. It is a water-based, allergen-free, non-toxic paint.

It is commonly called poster paint. It is the ideal paint for kids because it is easy to use, and it comes in a variety of bright colors.

It is a very flexible and sometimes washable paint. It is commonly confused with egg tempera paint, but these are two different types of paint.

Tempera paint is ideal for all ages and any kind of project throughout the house or classroom.

Common uses of tempera paint:

  • Craft project
  • Theatre props
  • Painting windows
  • Poster boards

Tempera Paint vs. Egg Tempera

Egg tempera and tempera paint are two different types of paint. Tempera paint is used by kids and was designed for kids. In contrast, professional artists use egg tempera paint.

Egg tempera paint was designed and is often created by artists.

Egg tempera paint is created by mixing eggs with pigments of paint. Some artists have been known to mix just egg yolk or egg whites into the pigment.

At the same time, others are known to mix the whole egg in with the pigment.

Artists first used this type of painting medium in the 1600s. It is still used today, but it can be more difficult to obtain.

That is why many artists create and mix it themselves.

Does Tempera Paint Wash Off?

Like any other type of paint, tempera paint is easier to wash off when wet versus dry.

It is easy to wash off non-absorbent surfaces such as glass tile or hardwood flooring. You need soap, water, and a sponge to remove the paint.

However, tempera paint can be difficult to remove from fabrics and clothing. It is not an impossible project, but it does take some time and elbow grease to remove the paint.

You will often have to try more than one method to remove the paint stain fully.

Remove Excess Paint Before Removing the Tempera Paint Stain

Before you begin removing the tempera paint stain, you should remove all of the excess paint. The removal of the excess paint will make your job a lot easier.

If there is still excess paint on the clothing, you can potentially spread the paint and create a bigger stain.

Tempera paint dries brittle, which makes it easy to scrub off.

You can use a dull knife or the back of a spoon to scrape and remove the dried-on paint. It should turn into a powder as you scrub it off the clothing.

scrape off excess paint before cleaning the stain

You should not apply water to remove the excess paint. The water will reconstitute the paint and ultimately make it more difficult to remove.

If you noticed the paint got on your clothes while you were in the process of painting, you can and should remove the paint while it is still wet.

You will have to blot the paint with a clean cloth or paper towel. You should never scrub or rub the wet paint because it will spread the paint and worsen the stain.

Make sure you always use a clean portion of the cloth or paper towel. The clean portion can help prevent the stain from spreading further on the clothing.

Suppose you use the dirty portion of the towel. In that case, you will only press the color into the shirt, making the stain more difficult to remove.

8 Ways to Remove Tempera Paint Stain Out of Clothes

Although tempera paint is water-based, it is still very difficult to remove from clothes. This paint contains a lot more pigments than normal paint.

The added pigments create amazing and long-lasting colors for art projects. They also make the paint more difficult to remove from clothes.

The dye in tempera paint is also more intense than other paints on the market. The intense dye can easily stain clothes. The dye also makes the stain more difficult to remove.

No matter what method you use to remove the stain, the process will require trial and error.

Below I will give you several options to remove the paint from any clothing. These methods and steps assume that you have already removed the excess paint. If you have not removed the excess paint, the stain-removal process will be more difficult.

1. Vinegar

Vinegar can easily remove tempera paint stains from clothing. The best thing about this solution is you most likely already have vinegar lying around your house. If you do not, then you should buy some. After all, vinegar has multiple uses around the house.

Here are the steps to use vinegar to remove the paint stain:

  1. Use a spray bottle of diluted vinegar to spray the stain. You can also use a cloth or paper towel to blot the vinegar onto the stain.
  2. Let the vinegar set on the clothing for approximately 15 minutes.
  3. Then begin blotting the vinegar away. The color should begin to come off the clothing and onto your cloth or paper towel.
  4. Remember to use a clean portion of the cloth every time you blot the clothing. Repeat these steps as necessary.

Important note: vinegar can cause damage to the color of the fabric. You should always dilute the vinegar and apply it in moderation.

You can test the vinegar on the seam or other inconspicuous areas to see how the fabric reacts.

2. Stain Remover

Stain removers are not only used to remove the spaghetti stain on your kid’s shirt.

Stain remover can also remove paint stains from clothes and carpets. You can use Oxi Clean, Resolve, or any other brand of stain remover.

Be careful when choosing a stain remover. Some stain removers contain bleach which can ruin the color and fabric of the clothing or carpet.

It is also important to note that you should not use a pet stain remover when trying to remove paint stains.

Most pet stain removers focus on removing the odor. The odor-fighting enzymes are great because they will keep your dog from going to the restroom in the same spot.

However, it will do little to help you remove paint stains from your clothes.

Below are the steps to follow when using a stain remover:

  1. Spray the stain remover onto the clothing. If you do not have a spray bottle, you can dab the stain remover with a paper towel or washcloth.
  2. You should let the stain remover sit on the clothing for as long as the label recommends. Typically, manufacturers suggest letting the stain remover sit for 10-15 minutes.
  3. Use a clean and dry cloth to blot the stain off the fabric. You should see the color lifting off the clothing and onto the cloth.
  4. Repeat these steps as necessary if the stain is still present.

3. Laundry Detergent

Some might think a regular laundry detergent doesn’t work for paint stains. However, with tempera paint stains, almost any type of laundry detergent will do the trick.

Remember that you cannot use water to dilute the laundry detergent. The water will decrease its stain-fighting abilities.

Follow the steps below to use a laundry detergent to remove paint stains from clothing:

  1. Spread the laundry detergent liberally onto the stained fabric.
  2. You should let the detergent sit on the fabric for approximately one hour.
  3. Rinse the shirt in cold or lukewarm water and allow it to hang dry.
  4. If the stain is still present, you can repeat these steps.

4. Bleach

When used properly, bleach can remove almost any kind of stain. You will have to take some precautions if you choose to use bleach.

First, look for color-safe bleach. Color-safe bleach is less likely to ruin the color of fabrics.

Secondly, you need to make sure the fabric is colorfast. Colorfast fabrics are less likely to be affected by bleach.

You should always apply a small amount of bleach to the seam of the clothing to see how the fabric’s color reacts to the bleach.

Below are the steps you can take to use bleach to remove tempera paint stains from clothing:

  1. In a bucket, mix three tablespoons of bleach for every gallon of lukewarm water.
  2. Allow the clothing to soak in the solution for 15 minutes.
  3. Rinse the solution with lukewarm or cold water.

You can use a rag to apply the bleach solution if you do not want the clothing to be fully submerged in the solution.

Simply blot the solution onto the stain and let it soak for approximately 15 minutes. After soaking in the bleach solution, the clothing will still need to be rinsed in water.

You should not repeat these steps if the stain does not come out.

Bleach can have detrimental effects on the color of clothing. If the stain is still present, try using one of the other methods mentioned in this article.

5. Rubbing Alcohol

Is there anything that rubbing alcohol cannot do? Also, rubbing alcohol is another amazing product that can remove tempera paint stains from clothing.

When using bleach, you should ensure the clothing is made of a colorfast fabric.

Please keep in mind that rubbing alcohol can damage some clothing materials. It can fade colors or cause the clothing to deteriorate.

You should test a small amount of rubbing alcohol in an inconspicuous area. It will allow you to see if the rubbing alcohol harms the shirt.

Here are the steps you can take to use rubbing alcohol to remove tempera paint stains:

  1. Use a rag or paper towel to blot the stain with rubbing alcohol.
  2. Allow the rubbing alcohol to sit for only a couple of minutes. Rubbing alcohol can damage some materials and fabrics when left on it for too long.
  3. Use a clean cloth to dab the stain or rinse the shirt under lukewarm or cold water.
  4. Repeat these steps as necessary. Just be mindful of how rubbing alcohol affects the clothing.

Some DIYers have successfully used a toothbrush, sponge, and rubbing alcohol to remove paint stains from clothing. I would not recommend you try that option.

When you scrub a shirt vigorously, you may remove the paint, but you end up causing more damage to the shirt.

6. Nail Polish Remover

If you are a woman or have a woman living in your house, you probably have nail polish remover.

You can use it to remove just about any paint stain on clothing. You should test this method in a nonobvious area as it can cause damage to fabrics.

The steps are as follows:

  1. You can use a paper towel or rag to blot a small amount of nail polish remover onto the stain.
  2. Let it sit for 15 minutes.
  3. Then use a clean rag to blot away the stain. You should see the stain transferring to the rag. Use a clean portion of the rag every time you blot the stain.

Nail polish remover has a very powerful odor. You should only use a small amount each time. You may even want to wear a mask while using the nail polish remover.

7. Baking Soda

Baking soda is terrific for many things, including stain removal. If you use this method, do not rub the solution into the shirt.

Baking soda is not the easiest substance to clean off of clothing. You will have to be careful with this method, as baking soda can cause the fabric to fade.

You can follow the steps below if you want to use baking soda to remove a tempera paint stain from clothing:

  1. Create a paste with three tablespoons of baking soda and ½ cup of water. Mix the two until the baking soda is completely dissolved.
  2. Spread the solution onto the paint stain.
  3. Allow the solution to sit for 15 minutes.
  4. Then rinse the clothing under lukewarm or cold water to remove the stain.
  5. You should only repeat this process once or twice. Baking soda can damage the fabric when used too frequently.

8. Dish Soap

Did you know you can use dish soap to remove paint stains from clothing?

Neither did I, but it turns out that you can use dish soap for so much more than washing dishes. For this method, you can use dish soap or dishwashing detergent.

Follow the steps below to remove the tempera paint stain:

  1. Mix a small amount of dish soap or dishwashing detergent with cold water.
  2. You can either spray the solution on the stain or blot it onto the stain.
  3. Allow the solution to sit on the stain for 10 minutes.
  4. Then you can use a clean cloth or paper towel to blot away the stain.
  5. You can repeat these steps as often as possible until the stain is gone.

Aftercare Tips

After removing a stain from any type of fabric, it is recommended to let the fabric air dry.

Even after washing the clothing normally, I recommend allowing it to air dry. The heat from a drying machine can cause the stain to set if it is not fully gone.

Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a stain is gone while the fabric is still wet. If you airdry the fabric, you can double-check the stain is gone.

When you airdry the fabric, it allows you to ensure the stain is gone.

If not, you can try another one of the methods mentioned above to remove the tempera paint stain.

Why Should You Only Use Lukewarm or Coldwater to Remove Tempera Paint Stains?

Just as the heat from a dryer can set a stain, the heat from hot water can also set a stain.

I mentioned earlier methods that suggest using lukewarm or cold water to remove the paint stain.


Tempera paint is considered a washable paint. However, it is not easy to wash it out of clothing. There are countless different household items you can use to remove the tempera paint stain.

Unfortunately, you will often have to try more than one method to remove the paint stain fully. The most important step for removing tempera paint stains is to begin by removing the excess paint.

After that, you can use any household products mentioned above to remove the stain.

I hope this article helps you remove the paint stain from your beloved clothes.