Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric

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For all the crafters out there, acrylic paint is a universal term. It’s super easy to use and can be found in any household. Moreover, it is pretty cheap to get. It is so flexible and resilient that it can be used on all types of surfaces including wood, paper, leather, wood, fabric, and many other surfaces.

So, can you really use acrylic on fabric? The simplest answer is yes, you can certainly. Acrylic paint works on fabric and stays on it permanently. But there is an issue. 

You just can’t make acrylic paint stay on fabrics all by itself. I mean, you need a medium to make it stay on fabrics. Otherwise, it won’t last forever.

“Now, what’s a medium?” some might wonder. Don’t worry and just read along as I am going to explain everything that you need to know about acrylic paint in detail and also give you a step-by-step guide to show you how you can use acrylic paint on fabric.


 Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric?

As already mentioned above, you can use acrylic paint on fabric very easily and quite cheaply as well. It is so versatile and flexible that people use acrylic paints on many different fabric surfaces such as:

  • Shirts                                                                     
  • Window curtains
  • Pillow covers 
  • Shoes
  • Bed sheets etc

But there is an important thing to consider. You just can’t grab a can of acrylic paint and start painting on your fabric surface. No sir, it won’t work that way at all. You need to use the proper fabric medium to make your acrylic paint stick to your desired fabric and make it water-resistant as well.

So, what is a fabric medium? To put it simply, a fabric medium is a solution that helps your acrylic paint stick to the fabric surface easily. It is a formula that people use to mix with their acrylic paints before painting on fabrics.

There are many benefits of using a fabric medium. One benefit is that it makes acrylic paint stick to your fabric surface better and the paint will not wash away or fade after washing and using over time. Moreover, it makes the paint softer and makes it last longer.

Another benefit of using a fabric medium is that it lets you explore various blending techniques and also enables you to add watercolor effects as well. 

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric Shoes?

Acrylic paint is such a versatile color that it sticks to fabric shoes quite easily. Not only fabric shoes but also leather shoes, vinyl shoes, vans shoes, and other shoe materials as well.   

Painting your fabric shoes with acrylic paint is a simple task and you can do it quite easily by following some easy steps. The steps are as follows:

  1. Clean your shoe properly and make sure there are not any traces of dust left.
  2. Use masking tape or newspaper to mask off nearby areas where you don’t wish to paint.
  3. Use fine-grit sandpaper to give a light sanding to your fabric shoe so that the paint adheres to the surface better.
  4. Shake the can of paint properly and apply a thin layer of paint using a brush or airbrush sprayer.
  5. Let the paint dry.
  6. Apply the second coat of paint and let it dry again for 24 hours.
  7. Apply an acrylic sealant to protect the paint from any kind of wear and tear.
  8. Let it dry for one final time and then wear your shoe and show it off to others. 

What Happens If You Paint Acrylic on Fabric?

Acrylic is such a versatile paint that it can be used on a wide range of surfaces without any trouble. But it creates some issues when applied to fabrics. 

The surface of the fabric is very smooth that’s why when you apply acrylic paints on fabric walls it loses flexibility. Moreover, after painting, the paint may peel off or wash away completely. 

Again, if it doesn’t peel off completely, the surface area may feel stiff and you may face discomfort while wearing your favorite fabric. So is there any solution to this problem?

Of course, there is one solution to this issue. And the solution is to add proper fabric medium with your acrylic paint to turn it into fabric paint. In this way, the paint will not come off from the fabric surface and the fabric will feel softer and smoother as well.

What Are Mediums for Acrylic Paint on Fabric?

If you use acrylic paint on your desired fabric directly you will not get a smoother finish. Moreover, your fabric will feel itchy and rough to wear. Again, the paint will peel off and bleed from the fabric after washing.

So, in order to prevent this from happening a medium is applied to acrylic paints. A fabric medium is a thick liquid substance that turns acrylic paints into fabric paints. The benefits of using medium to acrylic paints are many.

Firstly, it dilutes acrylic fabric paints without changing the color. Secondly, it lengthens drying time and makes the fabric feel soft. Thirdly, it reduces color bleeding from the fabric. And finally, it helps the paint to cover the fabric surface evenly.

There are basically two types of Mediums that you can use on fabric. The first one is called fabric medium which is perhaps the best one and the second one is called gel medium which is quite similar to the fabric medium.

Fabric mediums come in two different forms. One is known as a store-bought medium which you can buy from different craft shops near you or online. And the second one is known as a homemade medium which you can prepare at home.

Can You Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric Without a Medium?

Yes, it’s possible but not advisable. You see, if you paint your fabric without the help of any medium then your fabric will lose its smoothness and flexibility. Moreover, the paint will peel off and may wash away completely after one or two washings.

So the best thing is to always use a medium. “But what if I don’t want to use a medium? Is there any other way?” some of you may ask.

Fortunately, there is one other way to do this. Instead of adding a fabric medium, you can use glycerol. There are some other substances that you can use with acrylic paints but using glycerol is the best option among them.

But you need to dilute the glycerol with water first before mixing it with acrylic paint. A ratio of 1 part of glycerol to 5 parts of water is considered ideal for this. 

How to Prepare Acrylic Paint for Fabric?

You just can’t use acrylic paint on your fabric without any pre-preparation. You have to prepare your acrylic paint first to make it ready for your fabric. For this, you need to mix fabric medium with acrylic paint first.

To do this, you have to simply mix 1 part acrylic paint, 1 part fabric medium, and 7 parts water. If you want a more washed-out look then you can add extra water. 

After that, you should let the paint soak for two hours. Remove excess water from the fabric and let the fabric dry out completely.

How to Prepare Fabric Before Acrylic Painting?

You just can’t pick a piece of fabric and start painting on it with acrylic paint instantly. You need to take some time out and prepare the fabric first before you go on with your painting job.

Firstly, you should wash the fabric properly with clean water and make sure that there is not a single speck of dust or dirt remaining on the fabric. Once the washing is done, dry out the fabric completely.

After that, you should prepare the paint using the proper fabric medium. Take your fabric medium and mix it with your acrylic paint to turn it into fabric paint. 

Once all the processes mentioned above are done, then you are all set to go for painting your fabric with acrylic paint.

How to Paint Fabric with Acrylic Paint? 

Painting your fabric with acrylic is an easily doable process and anyone, even you can do it if you follow these simple steps. 

Here is the step-by-step process of painting your fabric with acrylic:

  1. Wash Your Fabric Before Painting

Wash the fabric that you want to paint with acrylic very carefully. Make sure that there is not a single piece of dirt left on the fabric surface. After cleaning, dry out the fabric completely.

  1. Prepare the Paint Using Medium

Take your fabric medium and mix it with your acrylic paint to turn it into fabric paint. Make sure to follow the instructions properly while mixing the medium with the acrylic paint. Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions.

  1. Prepare the Fabric and the Workplace

To get an even surface, stretch your clothes or fabric with cardboard. But make sure not to overstretch it because when the paint is dried up it may cause wrinkles to your fabric. 

  1. Paint Away

After all the formalities are done, you may start painting your fabric with newly prepared acrylic paint. You may use brushes, sponges, and stamps to let loose your creative ideas. Sewing chalks can come in handy if you want to make any sketches.

  1. Dry the Fabric

After you finish your painting, you need to leave it to air to dry for at least 24 hours max.

  1. Seal the Paint 

After the paint is dried up completely, you need to seal it properly. The best way to seal the acrylic paint on the fabric is to iron it for 5 minutes. This will make the paint washable and permanent.

  1. Wash the Newly Painted Fabric

Don’t attempt to wash your fabric instantly after painting it with acrylic. You must wait for 5-7 days before you take steps to wash it. While washing, make sure that you are washing it separately so that it doesn’t get contaminated with other clothes.

How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Fabric?

After painting your desired fabric with acrylic paint, it becomes very important for you to seal the paint properly to make it permanent and washable. “But how to do it?” people frequently ask. 

Well, there are 3 proven ways to seal acrylic paint on fabric:

  1. Heat-Setting

You need your iron to apply this method. Take your iron and heat it up. Be sure not to overheat your iron. Keep the heating level from medium to low. Now iron the opposite side of your to seal the and make it become permanent.

Make sure to dry the fabric first properly (24hrs) before ironing, for the best possible result. 

  1. Indirect Ironing

Indirect ironing is done by not ironing the fabric directly. Sounds weird right? You can achieve this result by heating up your iron and then holding it on the part of the paint. The heat coming from the iron will seal the paint perfectly.

  1. Applying Medium

The last process involves applying another coat of medium on the fabric surface that has already been painted. 

Take another coat of medium and apply it carefully on the surface of the painting to seal the paint. This unique process will help you seal the acrylic pnt and make the both washable and permanent.

How to Make Acrylic Paint Stay on Fabric?

By now, you have already learned that you can paint your desired fabric with acrylic very cheaply and easily. Now the main big issue is how you can make the paint stay on the fabric permanently as acrylic paint doesn’t adhere to the fabric surface that easily.

Well, this result can be achieved by following two simple methods:

Method #1 

You can make your acrylic paint stay on the fabric surface by adding a suitable fabric medium or textile medium with it. You see, adding a proper medium with your acrylic paint will turn the acrylic paint into fabric paint. 

This will make the paint stay on the fabric surface easily and make it washable and permanent as well.

Method #2

The second method involves the process of sealing. If you can properly seal the paint using the processes mentioned above, you can make your acrylic paint stay on your fabric.

Can Acrylic Painted Fabric Be Washed?

Of course, you can wash it off as long as the paint is still wet and has not dried up completely.

You see, acrylic paint is water soluble while wet, so it makes it washable. You can wash it off very easily using water only as long as the paint is still wet and not sealed. Sealing makes the paint permanent and it makes it quite impossible to wash off the paint from the fabric.

You can use dish soap, isopropyl alcohol, hair spray, nail polish remover, ammonia, and vinegar to make the paint wash off from the fabric while the paint is wet. 

“So, does it mean we can’t wash the paint off when it’s dry?” No, it’s not impossible but really very difficult to do as dry acrylic paint becomes almost permanent on fabrics.

Is Acrylic Paint Permanent on Fabric?

No, acrylic paint by nature is not 100% suitable for painting on fabric. If you paint your fabric with acrylic paint, it will not stay on your fabric for a long time. So, does it mean that you can’t make it permanent?

Yes, of course, you can make it permanent for sure. First, you need to use a proper fabric medium with acrylic paint to turn it into fabric paint. In this way, the paint will gain permanency.

Secondly, you should seal the paint properly. After painting your desired fabric with acrylic paint, it becomes very important for you to seal the paint properly to make it permanent and washable.

By following the two processes mentioned above, you can make acrylic paint permanent on your fabric.

How to Care for Acrylic Painted Fabric?

Once you are done painting your fabric with acrylic, you need to take extra care of your newly painted fabric for making the paint smooth and permanent. You can follow the following instruction for the best result:

  1. Wait for at least 4 days before you wash your newly painted fabric.
  2. Always try to wash the fabric with your own hands.
  3. While washing with your washing machine, you should try to select a gentle press wash and low heat setting.
  4. Avoid using hot water to dip your fabric.
  5. Avoid using a dry cleaning machine. But if you do make sure to dry the fabric at room temperature.
  6. While ironing the fabric, always iron the opposite side of the fabric. Otherwise, the heat of the iron may damage the paint.

Final Thoughts

By following all the instructions mentioned above, you can very easily paint your fabric with acrylic paint. Always use the proper medium and seal the paint properly for making the paint permanent and washable. Do not wash your fabric too frequently as it may damage the paint.

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