How to get chalkboard paint out of clothes

Paint and mess go hand-in-hand. No matter how careful we try to be, or how much protection covering we use, there are always going to be those rogue splashes that find their way onto our clothes, furniture upholstery or carpets!

And of course it will be one of those times when we’re wearing our best jeans – thinking; ‘I’ll be fine, I’m only touching up that bit in the corner…’

I’ve had way too many of those thoughts – never learnt – and subsequently spent the next two hours trying not to add a whole new design to my garment by trying to get the paint out!

Chalkboard paint is no exception. If you’ve ever used this type of paint before then you will know how easy it is to get it somewhere other than the surface you’re painting.

Is there any hope of getting chalkboard paint out of fabric?

Let’s take a look.

What is Chalkboard Paint?

Chalkboard paint is water-based and the stuff you use to make a surface look like a chalkboard – or rather it makes an ordinary wall into a chalkboard that can be written on with chalk.

A lot of people use a chalkboard as a decoration for their home or in art and craft projects, and adding a magnetic primer with its particles of iron dust, can transform it into a magnetic chalkboard!

I’d have loved that as a kid!

Talking of kids; they love a chalkboard – mine certainly did – and it can be used in a variety of places like classrooms, offices, kitchens, playrooms. And for a range of uses: table tops, kitchen walls for recipes/shopping lists, wall art, reminder boards, garden ornaments…I’m not kidding…! And you can even get a slow cooker with a chalkboard as its outer surface for writing the lunch of the day!

The list is endless.

My kids had a chalkboard; the one that was an easel and a magnetic whiteboard on the reverse side. I can honestly say it was one of the best things I bought for them, even though I was forever finding chalk sticks around the house!

But I digress.

Did you know that you can get different colors of chalkboard paint? There are a variety of colors ranging from red, blue and green to purple, pink and grey.

Chalkboard Paint vs Chalk Paint

Chalkboard paint and chalk paint are two different paints; you cannot write on chalk paint, or rather you can but it could damage the surface. Chalk paint is used primarily to give surfaces an old and distressed look, rather than a chalkboard surface for your kids to doodle their latest masterpieces.

Chalkboard Paint Ingredients

According to Wikipedia, the common ingredients are:

  • Acrylic
  • Water
  • Glycol
  • Carbon black
  • Opacifiers
  • Silica
  • Talc
  • Titanium dioxide
  • Esters

But Does it Actually Come Out?

The short answer is yes.

I wouldn’t rush to go do it in your designer t’shirt but yes, with a little attention, chalkboard paint can be removed from most fabrics.

There are a few different methods ranging from the basic water and dish soap to nail varnish remover and hairspray but one of these techniques should eventually remove the chalkboard paint and any staining from your clothing.

It is best to catch the paint when it’s wet or as soon as possible afterwards; this will make it easier to remove.

The take-home here though is to practice preventative measures and always wear protective clothing and cover furniture and flooring with sheeting…but then you wouldn’t be searching for ‘how to remove chalkboard paint…’ now, would you?!

The Steps for Removing chalkboard Paint from Clothes

So, without further ado, here are the steps to removing chalkboard paint from your garments.

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Disclaimer: Always adhere to color-safe precautions and other instructions for the type of fabric you have.

Step One – Scrape It

First things first, get your scraping talents at the ready and start attacking the paint. If it’s still wet then this part will be easy.

You can use either a butter knife or the back of a spoon, or any other instrument that isn’t too sharp.

Get as much of the paint off as possible and if dried, brush off all excess powder so it doesn’t get pushed back into the fabric.

Step Two – Warm Water

Rinse the stain under the tap with warm water. Keep this up until the color of the stain begins to fade.

Step Three – Dish Soap

Fill a bowl with warm water and add several drops of mild dish soap to create a foam.

With a clean sponge dipped in the water, apply it to the stain and gently pat and rub.

You can also use a soft toothbrush but don’t rub too harshly as this could force the paint further into the fibers.

(I refrain from stating ‘old’ toothbrush because a; you might not like the idea of using old, used toothbrushes, and b; you might use an electric toothbrush – for these reasons, a ‘new’ toothbrush will be fine, just bin it afterwards…just in case!)

Step Four – Rinse and Repeat

Rinse with clear warm water. Then repeat the steps again until there are no traces of the stain on your clothing.

Stubborn Stains

If the stain is still visible, there are further methods you can do to lift the stubborn residue.

Machine Washing

As before, scrape and rinse off the excess paint, and then put the clothing into the washing machine on a hot wash (the hottest the material can withstand) and follow the fabric washing instructions as normal.

Dishwasher Detergent

Scrape and rinse off the excess paint, then dab the area with some dishwasher detergent and leave to soak for a few minutes before rubbing at the stain gently. Rinse off with warm water.

Repeat this until the stain has gone and rinse for a final time in cold water.


Hitting the hard stuff now!

If the above methods have failed, then you can try alcohol. No, I don’t mean your Gran’s old rum, although if you’ve got a bottle of vodka there are some surprising things you can clean with it. Better Homes & Garden have compiled a nice little list of items that can be cleaned or freshened with vodka – I am definitely trying it out on the stubborn residue of sticky labels!

The following methods require preparing the fabric beforehand; scrape excess paint and soak in warm water. And unless stated otherwise, afterwards rinse in warm water and wash in the washing machine.

You may have to repeat the methods a few times to completely remove the stain.

Rubbing Alcohol: soak a cotton ball or (new/old/don’t care) toothbrush into rubbing alcohol and rub gently at the stain. (Rubbing alcohol may sometimes remove the color from fabrics so test on a hidden part of the material first).
Acetone Nail Polish Remover: (instead of the rubbing alcohol) blot the stain with a rag or washcloth. Wash in warm soapy water. Ensure the clothing fibers do not include triacetate or acetate.
Hairspray: hairsprays contain alcohol – this I did not know but then I’m far too busy using it to fix my hair than wonder what’s in it! Spray the entire stained area and scrub with a soft toothbrush.
Hand Sanitiser: (can be used with hairspray for added cleaning power) spread the entire area of the stain with hand sanitiser and scrub with a soft toothbrush.

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Ammonia Solution

  • Add the following to warm water and stir:
  • 2 tbsp of ammonia
  • 2 tbsp of white vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of salt

With that soft toothbrush you’ve now got used to, dip it into the solution, and gently rub at the stain.

If this doesn’t work, you can soak the stain in the ammonia solution. Leave for a few hours and repeat the scrubbing.

Lavender Essential Oil

Add a few drops of lavender essential oil to the stain and leave it to soak for 30 mins.

Gently scrub the area with a soft toothbrush.

Paint Stripper

Soak the stained area in the paint stripper for about 30 mins, then scrub with…you guessed it…that old/new/Aunt Mabel’s soft toothbrush.

What about Chalk?

If you’re painting a chalkboard, chances are you…or your little ones…will shortly be using chalk.

Chalk is great, and in our younger days, who didn’t want to write on every surface they could with their fresh new pack of chalks?

They were great on walls, pavements, paper, windows, ceramic pots…ok that one got me into a bit of trouble!

I used to get the chalk on myself, my clothes and in my hair. My mom used to say ‘did you get any on the chalkboard at all?!!’

As far as I was concerned, chalk brushed off.

And it does…the majority of it anyway.

But chalk can leave some residue on your clothing that can take a little extra work to remove.

But you will be pleased to learn that it does come off.

Let’s have a look at some methods for removing chalk from clothing and other soft furnishings.

Before you do any of these methods, make sure you have removed all of the excess chalk dust by brushing it out.

Machine Washing

The first method is as easy as putting it into the washing machine on a normal wash for that fabric.

Hang out to dry or if you want to use a tumble dryer, make sure the stain is completely gone. Any residue will ‘set’ in the dryer and become harder to remove.

Rubbing Alcohol

Before you try this method, test an inconspicuous part of the fabric to ensure the fabric color will not be damaged and the material is colourfast.

With a clean cloth (preferably white so color doesn’t transfer) dipped in rubbing alcohol and dab at the stain.

Continue dabbing at the stain until the color stops coming away. Rinse thoroughly in water.

If some staining is still visible, then soak it in either stain remover, laundry detergent or dishwasher liquid. Leave for about 30 mins and wash in the washing machine on the hottest temperature the material can sustain.

Air-dry the clothing and check the area once completely dry. If a stain is still visible, repeat the steps above – do not add it to the dryer until you are sure the stain has been removed.


And there you have it.

Chalkboards are great and you can turn almost any surface into one, giving you and your family loads of fun – or providing a jazzy way to note those favorite recipes.

And now you know chalkboard paint is fairly easy to come out of material, at least you can feel a little more confident about not ruining your clothes…although I would still steer away from wearing your Sunday best.

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