It does happen that some students are gifted at leaving the class covered in paint. I highly recommend that you send it a t-shirt, apron, or some type of coverage for your artist to wear during art class. We have bins in the art room where your student can keep their art smock for painting days. I also suggest encouraging your artist to leave their expensive items in their lockers until after art class.
These recipes are best for removing tempera, watercolor and sometimes acrylic paint from clothing. After treating with a recipe make sure to run your clothing item through a general wash. Before placing in your clothing item in the dryer, always double check that the stain is actually gone. The heat of the dryer will set the stain and then you will never get it out.
Option 1: Windex
Sometimes, if we are quick enough we can use Windex directly on the stain to remove the paint. This works best with acrylic paints as they turn in a plastic and bond with the fibers when they dry. The Windex seems to break down that bond, which helps the paint come out of the fabric. Sometimes this method works with tempera and watercolor paints.
Option 2: Vinegar and Oxyclean
To use the vinegar and Oxyclean option you want to first scratch off any top layer of dried paint with your fingernail. This works best and damages the fabric less if you pull it tight before scratching. Then using a clean (white) rag and white vinegar and blot the stains. As you are blotting the paint should transfer to your rag. Switch to a clean portion of the rag periodically to make sure you are not spreading the stain. If the stain persists, try dipping your rag in the Oxyclean and repeating the blotting technique with the Oxyclean. Then wash as normal.
Option 3: Heavy Duty Liquid Laundry Soap
This technique works best for tempera or watercolor paint. I like my general laundry soap, but have not had issues with basic dish soap, or in a pinch hand soap. Pour some soap onto the stain, enough that you can get a good lather, then scrub with your fingernail until the color has become activated and starts to come out. Rinse and repeat until the stain is totally out. Often with this method you may get a little haze left over that you may not notice until after your wash. Make sure to double check before it goes to the dryer and then repeat if necessary.
Option 4: Laundry Soap with Bleach
If I have a garment that can handle bleach, and option 3 is not removing most of the stain, I will soak the fabric in a diluted solution of all fabric powered bleach and check until the stain is out. If the stain still persists then try a diluted solution of liquid bleach.
I personally have had good luck with Option 3, but I have had students who have not had the greatest success. I do hope these recipes help and that you are successful in reclaiming your artist’s clothing.