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How To Remove Paint From Your Skin (7 Easy Ways)

hands with paint

Anytime you paint anything, you’re probably going to end up with paint on your skin. Whether you’re using a traditional paintbrush or a paint sprayer, painting tends to be a bit messy. Luckily, all paint on your skin will come off with time. However, you don’t always have the chance to wait around and hope the paint comes off promptly.

In this article, we’ll discuss a few methods you can use to speed up paint removal from your skin. What works for one person won’t necessarily work for another, so you may have to try multiple methods before you’re successful.

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7 Ways to Remove Paint from Your Skin

1. Soap and Water

washing hands with soap and water
Image Credit: Pixabay

Let’s start with the most comfortable way, first and foremost – simple soap and water. This usually doesn’t work well for most types of paints. However, everyone has soap and water on standby, and this method only takes a few seconds.

It does work well for some types of paints, like those that are latex-based. However, oil-based paints usually won’t be affected by the soap or water — oil and water don’t mix.

With that said, it is such an easy method that we recommend starting with it first. If anything, it’ll help loosen up the paint for the more intense methods below.

Trying to wash the paint off your hands isn’t complicated in the least. You wash your hands like you usually would, though with some extra scrubbing. If the paint doesn’t loosen after a few minutes, you’ll likely need to move onto another method.


2. Baby Oil

Johnson's Baby Oil

If you’re using an oil-based paint, you’re going to have problems getting it to come off with water. This is because oil and water don’t mix, so the paint will stay firmly on your hands.

Luckily, oil mixes with oil pretty easily. For this reason, you can usually move oil-based paint fairly quickly with baby oil or some other type of oil. Some people have had luck with olive oil. Of course, you should ensure the oil you’re using is safe for your skin.

Usually, you can treat the oil just like soap. Rub it onto your hands, and anywhere else the paint is. Then, wash it off. You may have to do this multiple times before the paint comes off.


3. Cooking Spray

Smart Balance Cooking Spray

One of the easiest ways to use the oil method is to use cooking spray. Generally, you can get it off with baby oil, but you may have an easier time with cooking spray. Cooking spray is oil, of course, so it works well with oil-based paint.

You should spray the paint-covered area with a good coating of cooking spray, then get to scrubbing. You will likely need to spray more cooking spray as you scrub the previous layers off. If your skin has a lot of paint on it, you may want to take it off over multiple sessions.


4. Acetone

Super Nail Pure Acetone Polish Remover

Acetone is the main ingredient in nail polish remover. Its job is to take the paint off of skin, so it is a decently effective option for most paint types. However, it is a much harsher option. It is harsh on skin and can cause reactions.

With that said, if you’re set on getting the paint off right away and other methods haven’t worked, acetone will probably do the trick. We do recommend using it sparingly, though. You don’t want to wear down your skin more than necessary. Be sure to try other methods before jumping to this one.


5. Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum Jelly is another oil-based substance. It is also too mild, so much so that it is commonly used on babies. It will likely not damage your skin like some other options, but it may also not be as effective. It will lift oil-based paints, but it may also cause them to spread to other areas of the skin.

You need to ensure that the paint is removed into the sink, not just spread onto other parts of the skin.

This is a decent option for those that plan on trying other methods. It may loosen up the paint so that other methods may be able to remove it altogether.


6. Dish Soap

Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Dish Soap

They use dish soap to clean up oil spills, so surely it would work well for cleaning up oil-based paints. Once you’ve used baby oil or cooking spray to get the paint off your hands, you may also need a way to remove that oil you’ve now built up. Dish soap is the easiest way to do that.

Dish soap is designed to clean oil and grease off of surfaces, so it may be able to remove oil from your hands and arms as well.

Plus, dish soap is relatively gentle. It isn’t as mild as regular hand soap, but it shouldn’t cause any side effects. If you can wash dishes without any problems, you can use dish soap to remove paint from your hands.


7. Mayo

a bowl of mayo
Image Credit: PxHere

You can also use mayo for oil-based paint. This is because mayo is made with oil, so it works similarly to the other oil options we’ve mentioned. However, mayo is a bit easier to get off once it is done since it isn’t completely oil-based.

However, it also may not work as well as some other options for this same reason. It’s extremely safe to use as well, so we highly recommend it as a first attempt. You can always move to something more aggressive if the mayo doesn’t work.

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Prevention is the Best Option

When it comes to most types of paint, you shouldn’t get them on your skin to begin with. They are not skin safe. They produce fumes that are toxic, which makes most of the paints themselves toxic as well. You can absorb many of these toxins through your skin. Of course, a little bit probably won’t hurt you. But there is a reason professional painters wear gloves.

We highly recommend wearing appropriate safety equipment when painting, including gloves. This will prevent paint from getting on your skin in the first place, so you hopefully won’t have to use any of the tips mentioned in this article.

Image credit: alessandro guerriero, Shutterstock

With that said, accidents do happen. Even if you’re wearing gloves, you may end up getting paint somewhere on your skin. In these cases, it is best to get it off as quickly as possible. You don’t want to leave it sitting on your skin for more than an hour, preferably. This will lead to it getting more stuck and allow the toxins to soak into your skin.

In some cases, it can also cause skin reactions if you leave the paint on there for long enough.

Which Method Should You Try First?

After reviewing the seven methods you can use to remove paint, you may be confused about which one to try first. We highly recommend starting with the gentlest option available, such as petroleum jelly or dish soap. Do not just jump to the harsher stuff, as it can damage your skin.

No matter what method you choose, you will need to work at it. Some degree of scrubbing will be necessary. To give your skin a break, you may want to pause in between methods if you need to use more than one.


Featured Image Credit: PxHere

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