The good news about fabric paints is that they are generally nontoxic, so getting them on your skin is not really a hazard, but going to work or school covered in fabric paint may not be a good idea.
Because the fabric paints do have acrylic polymer in them, they should never be intentionally used on skin for an extended period of time. For these reasons, it is always good to know how to remove excess fabric paint from your hands.
How to Remove Fabric Paint from Skin
Don’t Let The Fabric Paint Dry
The most important removal tip for getting fabric paint off your skin is to start the removal process before the paint dries. Since most fabric paints call for heat to set them, you have a good chance of removing the fabric paint from your skin while it is still wet or damp. If the fabric paint dries on your skin, the acrylic aspect of it will help it peel off easily with a little scraping.
Wash and Gently Scrape
Since many fabric paints are water soluble, first try washing your hands first with warm soapy water. A soft nail brush helps to gently scratch away excess paint from your hands and nails.
For Stubborn Fabric Paints
For more stubborn fabric paints, opt for a thicker soap, like a liquid dish soap. Instead of a gentle nail brush, bump up the exfoliation with a clean scrubber sponge. Be careful not to scrub too vigorously, though. You don’t want to damage your skin.
Always be sure to use a clean scrubber sponge, too. A used one could introduce bacteria into your scrub-irritated skin. You want to remove paint from your skin, not introduce a bacterial infection!
If the fabric paint still stubbornly clings to your hands, don’t give up. Rinse your hands, pat them dry, and take a short break from all the scrubbing if your hands are feeling irritated.
The next thing to try is cooking spray or cooking oil. Pour or spray a little in your hands and rub it in. You may want to add something to help exfoliate like a tablespoon of sugar, salt or Epsom salts. Use it to scrub with the oil. (Someday when you want to treat yourself, do this kind of exfoliation again. It makes a great hand scrub that will leave your skin so soft! For a spa-like treatment, add a drop of your favorite essential oil to the mix.)
Some products you might have on hand that would be helpful in removing fabric paint from your skin include Lava soap, which includes ground pumice and is formulated for removing paints, oil, and other hard-to-remove items from skin.
Gojo or Fast Orange
Gojo and Fast Orange are two other soaps that can dissolve serious grease and grime. These are especially good for automotive oils and grease, but can be good for removing all kinds of paints from skin, too. If you do a lot of crafts, you should plan to have one of these products on hand all the time.
Other Products to Try
Baby oil and micellar water are skin cleaning options that are also soothing. Use them if your skin is starting to feel irritated from too much scrubbing.
Petroleum jelly is another good product to use for cleaning fabric paint off skin. Slathering it on then using a gentle brush to exfoliate may help. In the long run, it will also help calm irritated skin.
Mineral spirits are also good to have on hand, especially if you paint with interior or exterior paints often. You may even have some success with nail polish remover. Apply either with a wash cloth and use it to gently scrub the paint off your skin. Be sure to wash your affected skin and your hands thoroughly after using either mineral spirits or nail polish remover.
Generally speaking, fabric paints are easy to work with and very little gets on your skin. Most are in bottles with handy lids that snap open and closed. Squirt a small amount of your paints into a pallet or onto a paper plate and work from there, adding more as needed.
Keep Workspace Organized
Most of the time people end up with a large amount of fabric paint on their skin, it is from the spill of a bottle of paint. Keep your paints handy, but out of your way as you paint to avoid a big spill.
Allergic Reactions To Dyes
If you have dye allergies, you should be particularly careful of getting fabric paints on your skins. Normally we think of dye allergies associated with foods, but the dyes used in fabric paints might also cause an allergic reaction.
If you have a reaction to a food dye, wear gloves and use extra caution when using paints in those same colors. While less than one out of 500 adults has a food dye allergy, if you are one who does, the dye might cause an allergic reaction to your skin.
To limit the amount of fabric paint you get on your skin, prepare your supplies using old newspaper or craft paper on the floor and table or desk top that you’ll be working on. Wear latex or vinyl gloves to protect your hands from fabric paint. If your project is large, wear a long sleeve shirt to protect your arms. Have water on hand to clean your paint brush, or multiple brushes for each of your paint colors.
As obvious as it may sound, plan your fabric painting projects when you do not have to worry so much about removing the paint from your skin. For instance, if you have a business meeting at work first thing Friday morning, don’t do your fabric painting project late Thursday night. You are a bridesmaid in a wedding on Saturday night? Do not do any fabric painting for a few days prior to your big event.
If All Else Fails…
If nothing else, take some comfort in the fact that the fabric paint will wear off your skin. The acrylic polymer that is part of fabric paint is made to help the paint withstand washing and sunlight. It gives the paint some staying power, but it does not last forever.