How Long Does Fabric Paint Last?

Fabric paint is an excellent medium to embellish t-shirts, jeans, jackets, and accessories. But you may have questions about how long fabric paint lasts? We did a bit of research to find out more, and have some wonderful info to share.

Quality brands of fabric paint can last up to 5 years or longer when properly stored. It is critical to keep fabric paints tightly sealed when not in use. Containers should be kept upside-down in a cool place, away from extreme heat and sunlight exposure.

Personalizing garments using fabric paint is an exciting way to create a unique look and have fun. Keep reading to learn more about maximizing your fabric paint, sealing projects, and ensuring the quality and lifespan of your work.

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Wild print on white plain shirt, How Long Does Fabric Paint Last?

All About Fabric Paint

Fabric paint is an acrylic-based medium, also known as a textile paint. The product is available in a wide range of colors, allowing crafters to experiment with painting shirts, pants, bags, and other fabric items. Using fabric paint is an easy way to customize clothing and accessories, adding simple or ornate designs, characters, and patterns.

The application involves either using fabric spray paint, markers, pens, or a medium that is painted directly onto textiles using a brush or tool. It is imperative to store fabric paint correctly to ensure it has a lifespan of at least five years or longer.

Creating your own t-shirt workshop outside

Check out this spray-on fabric paint on Amazon.

Paints should be closed and placed upside down in a cool space where there is no exposure to extreme temperatures or sunlight. When containers are firmly closed and placed upside down, it helps create an air-tight seal to protect the paint's integrity.

If fabric paint becomes dry, you can usually revive it by gradually adding warm water to wake up the medium. Other options to soften or re-wet fabric paint include using a bit of glycerol or an acrylic medium.

Be patient, as it can take between 24 hours to 3 days for fabric paint to cure before it's safe to wash your project. For best results, fabric paint should be sealed onto a garment or accessory to ensure permanency.

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How Long Is Fabric Paint Good For?

Artist Working On Painting In Cloth

How long a fabric paint remains viable depends on the brand and how you store it when not in use. Most brands will last up to 5 years or longer, provided the paint is sealed off from oxygen and protected from heat and light. 

Remember, because fabric paint is usually acrylic-based, this relatively low-toxic paint lasts for many years and is quite durable. Some brands of fabric paint are more water-soluble and easy to remove, even after setting them into the fibers of a textile.

Does Fabric Paint Need To Be Sealed?

Fabric paint should be closed to maintain an air-tight seal to prevent it from drying out and losing performance. After fabric paint is applied to an article of clothing or accessory, it is best to seal it with heat to reduce the chance of it peeling off, cracking, or fading away.

You can take the risk and wash something with fabric paint on it after it has dried and cured completely, but without setting it with heat, how long it will last on the material will vary.

Some crafters may want to use fabric paint that is alcohol-based instead of acrylic-based or is really a dye, puffy paint, or ink. Carefully review the manufacturer's instructions on properly storing and using your fabric paint before you get started.

Does Fabric Paint Peel Off?

designed the mask

Fabric paint can peel off of clothing and accessories, especially if you don't wash it inside-out and if it hasn't been properly heat set. It is critical to gently wash items that have fabric paint on them to keep them looking nice for a longer time. Also, be careful about your choice of textile paint.

Acrylic paints will be harder to remove from fabric. However, a latex-based fabric paint may come off faster and easier. Take the time to review the best way to wash garments and accessories painted with textile paint. Use the gentle cycle for a washing machine with cool water or wash by hand when possible.

Keep in mind that some fabric paints will not peel off easily after they have had enough time to cure and bond with the textile or fabric.

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How To Remove Dried Fabric Paint?

hand wasahand washing knitted woolen laundry

That's great when fabric paint goes where you want it on a shirt or handbag. However, we have you covered if you need to remove dried fabric paint.

The way that fabric paint or textile paint is formulated includes ingredients to help it bond to the fibers of a jacket, top, or textile accessory. If you have fabric paint where it doesn't belong, you can try to remove it manually.

You will need to get an alcohol-based agent to help remove the fabric paint, warm water, and something to scrub it off. A sponge or durable cloth may help, and a bit of laundry detergent. Wear gloves to protect your hands from stains.

blank white t-shirt

Where to Work

Set up in a kitchen or bathroom sink with the painted item. If you don't have any rubbing alcohol around to help lift the stain, try using a bit of hair spray that is acetone-free. 

Agitate and Lift the Paint

If the fabric paint recently landed on clothing, place the article under warm water and try to scrub off as much as possible. If the paint is older, saturate it with hair spray or alcohol and let it soak into the area. Scrub at the paint aggressively to break the bonds and lift it, but be careful not to destroy the fabric. Work carefully and be patient.

Rinse and Repeat the Process

Rinse the fabric after scrubbing and inspect to see how much paint is left. Repeat the process and then throw your item into the wash. When removing fabric paint, work in a ventilated area.

How Do You Make Fabric Paint Permanent?

making vibrants tie dye clothes t-shirts outdoors on the garden

Check the manufacturer's instructions on fabric paint to find out how to make it more permanent. Usually, people apply some form of heat to fabric paint that is already dry. Remember that some textile paint does not require any heat to cure and fully bond onto a project.

However, applying heat to fabric paint ensures its longevity and durability before getting a wash in most instances. For best results, allow garments with a layer of fabric paint to dry for 24 hours, up to 72 hours, before applying heat to set it. Or, let the fabric paint dry and cure, so it is less likely to chip or peel off, even in the wash.

Is Fabric Paint Washable?

handmade with an exclusive print on clothe

Once fabric paint has thoroughly dried onto an article of clothing or textile and is heat set, it becomes more waterproof and durable. If you wash a project painted with fabric paint before it is fully dry, or if the paint wasn't yet heat set into the materials, it may peel off. Typically, wait anywhere from 24 to 72 hours before the first wash.

When washing a garment or accessory with a layer of fabric paint, review the manufacturer's instructions regarding the paint product. Also, cross-reference the suggested care instructions for washing your project.

Usually, it is better to turn a painted shirt, jacket, or pants inside out to protect the paint. Also, if you cannot gently handwash a painted accessory or item in cool water in mild detergent, place it in a washing machine on the gentle cycle. When possible, hang garments to dry and avoid placing them in the dryer to preserve the painted designs.

T-shirt with paint on a string

If you made a mistake and want to remove fabric paint from clothes, check out this article for help.

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How To Set Fabric Paint?

There are four options to help you set fabric paint, so it is more permanent and less likely to peel off, chip, or fade. They are listed as follows:

  • Set with an iron
  • Place it in the oven
  • Put your project in the clothes dryer
  • Use a screen printer's dryer

Using heat is the best way to set fabric paint, so it stays on your project and can withstand getting washed. One of the easiest methods people love to use is an iron to set fabric paint. Check out the helpful video below for inspiration.

The Wrap Up

Wild print on white plain shirt

Let your creativity fly and delve into painting clothing and accessories with fabric paint. Using this colorful medium makes it possible to personalize your favorite wearable items. Plus, most brands of fabric paint are high-quality enough to last many washes without peeling off, crumbling, or losing their luster.

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