How To Get Paint Out of Hair: Easy Step-by-Step Solutions

How To Get Paint Out of Hair

Whether you are in the middle of renovating your home or you’ve just completed a masterpiece, getting paint in your hair can be a troubling experience. 

While dying our hair in different colors is definitely a trend right now, doing so by accident, with paint, is not desirable. Not only will it look unfashionable, but it could also cause serious damage to your hair. 

Don’t worry though, removing paint from your hair is much easier than you might imagine, especially if you follow our step-by-step guide below.

How To Get Paint Out of Hair: 7 Easy Solutions

African American women sitting on the floor with wet hair that's stained with paint.

There are many different techniques that can remove acrylic paint, latex paint, oil paint, spray paint, and water-based paint from your hair. The technique that works best for you will depend on the type of paint that you have in your hair and the amount of paint that is stuck in your hair.

For example, oil paints may pose to be more difficult to remove than water-based paints and large amounts of paint may take longer to get out than just a speck or two. Regardless, these techniques are designed to help remove unsightly paint splotches.

Here are some of the most common techniques for removing paint from your hair:

Use a Normal Shampoo (or Clarifying Shampoo)

Depending on the type of paint that has gotten mixed into your hair, you may just need a good shampoo to wash it out. A strong, clarifying shampoo that can be purchased at any beauty supply store, pharmacy, or drugstore should do the trick.

Comb your hair first to remove any loose, dry paint, and then thoroughly wet your hair in the shower. Apply a liberal amount of shampoo and scrub your hair well.

Make sure that you pay extra attention to the affected area that contains the most paint, working through these spots with your fingertips. 

Rinse out the shampoo and inspect your hair. If the paint still remains in your hair, you may need to repeat this process a second time, leaving the shampoo on for a longer period of time. 

Rinse your hair as usual and follow up with a conditioning treatment. 

Dish Soap Removes Sticky Hardened Gunk

Using a dish soap that is specially formulated for tough, greasy messes will be especially helpful at removing oil-based paint from your hair and can also help with any other paint type as well.

A grease-cutting soap like the Dawn brand will not only be able to remove paint, but it is also gentle enough that it won’t damage your hair afterward. 

To try this method, apply a liberal amount of dish soap onto your hands and massage the soap into your hair, paying special attention to the areas that contain the most paint. 

Allow the dish soap to sit for approximately fifteen to twenty minutes and then rinse it out thoroughly. If the paint still remains, you can repeat this method again or, if your hair looks clear, you can complete the session by washing your hair with your regular shampoo.

We’ve also written previously about how Dawn dish soap can be used for hair growth, so there could be other benefits to using dish soap on your hair.

Try Using Toothpaste with Warm Water

Toothpaste is something that all of us have in our homes and it is an extremely cheap option to use when it comes to removing paint from your hair. The compounds in the toothpaste will adhere to the paint, allowing it to separate from the hair much more easily.

To try this method, separate the sections of hair that contain the paint and apply toothpaste to these specific areas. Work the toothpaste in with your fingertips and let it sit for ten to fifteen minutes to really have a chance to soak into the paint.

When the timer goes off, use a detangling comb, a wide-tooth comb, or lice comb to gently comb through the toothpaste.

This should loosen the paint (as the toothpaste acts as a mild abrasive) and allow the softened paint to be fully combed out of the hair. Continue working through the hair, section by section, removing as much paint and toothpaste as possible with the comb. 

Next, use your regular shampoo and warm water to give your hair a good scrub to remove any remaining toothpaste and paint particles. 

Note: In our experience, a fine-tooth comb (like a dressing table comb) doesn’t work as well, especially if you have naturally curly hair. If you have straighter hair or a type 1 hair type, using a fine-tooth comb should work perfectly fine. Also, some ladies have more success using “gritty toothpaste.”

Using Vinegar to Remove Paint from Hair

Using vinegar to remove paint from your hair is an excellent option, especially if you don’t mind the distinctive smell that comes along with using vinegar.

Apple cider vinegar is one of the best vinegar choices and in fact, many people often use an apple cider vinegar rinse on their hair as a natural clarifier to remove oil and product build-up. 

To try this method, massage a liberal amount of apple cider vinegar into your hair, paying close attention to the areas that are most affected by the paint.

The compounds in the vinegar will help to break down the paint particles, making them much easier to remove.

Once the vinegar has had a chance to sit for a while, use a detangling comb and gently comb out the hair. The paint should easily be brushed out and any remaining paint residue should be able to be easily washed out of the hair with normal shampoo.

You Can Try the Baby Oil Method to Remove Oil-Based Paints

Baby oil or mineral oil is a great option to use when trying to remove oil-based paint from the hair. The oily nature of these substances will help to soften the paint, making it much easier to remove, loosening its grasp from the hair shaft. 

To use this method, apply a small amount of either baby oil to a cotton ball or paper towel and dab it onto the areas of paint in the hair. Apply just enough to moisten the paint and then allow it to soak in and sit on the hair for approximately half an hour. 

Once the oil has had time to sit, use a wide-tooth detangling comb and comb through the hair. The oil paint should be able to be combed out of the hair pretty easily. If any paint residue still remains, apply another application of oil and let sit again, repeating this entire process.

Next, wash the hair with your favorite shampoo and condition your hair as usual.

Using Olive Oil as a Paint Thinner for Oil-Based Paint

As with other oils, olive oil (or a similar cooking oil, like vegetable oil) is also excellent at breaking down and removing remnants of oil-based paint from your hair. You can apply the olive oil directly onto the areas of paint or you can gently massage it throughout your hair. 

Allow the olive oil to sit on the hair for fifteen to twenty minutes and then rinse out. Due to the oily nature of this product, you will most likely want to follow this treatment with a quick wash using your favorite shampoo. 

Consider Using Peanut Butter to Remove the Paint

Peanut butter is one of the oldest tricks in the book and has so many practical uses in the home, other than making a delicious peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Because peanut butter is made primarily of oil, it will help to break down oily substances that have gotten tangled up in your hair – in this case, paint. 

Depending upon the amount of paint you are trying to remove, you may want to opt for a chunky version of peanut butter.

While this may not be the most appealing thing to spread into your locks, the grit that this peanut butter contains will work similar to sandpaper and will help to remove the paint.

Apply the peanut butter to the painted parts of your hair and massage your hair gently with your fingertips. Allow the peanut butter to sit for a short period of time (between ten and fifteen minutes) and then work it in with your fingers again. 

If it appears that the paint is breaking down, you are good to go ahead and wash your hair as usual. If not, then you should apply more peanut butter and let it sit for a few more minutes to really work its magic. 

What Is the Best Way To Take Care Of Your Hair After Removing the Paint?

Mixed race women with type 3a hair strands after using hair dye

Removing paint from your hair can cause your strands to become dry and damaged. This can affect how well your hair grows and can cause damage and breakage. 

A good conditioning treatment can reverse the signs of damage, increase the volume and vitality of your hair, resulting in stronger, healthier, and shinier hair. 

While many salons and drug stores offer excellent conditioning treatments, these can often be costly. 

You can create a do-it-yourself conditioner at home, without having to splurge on costly salon-quality products. To create your own conditioning treatment using simple ingredients that you can find in your very own kitchen, follow these steps.

You will need:

  • ½ of a ripe avocado
  • ½ a teaspoon of olive oil
  • 3 drops of essential oil (try lavender oil, eucalyptus oil, or rosemary oil)

In a bowl, mash the avocado well with a fork. Add the olive oil and the essential oil and mix well to make a well combined, uniform paste. 

Apply this paste to dry (or almost dry) hair, starting at the ends and working your way upwards. Massage the mixture into the hair and cover it with a shower cap, plastic bag, or plastic wrap. Allow this moisturizing mixture to sit on your hair for at least ten to fifteen minutes.

Wash out the mixture in the shower and then wash your hair with your favorite shampoo. Allow your hair to dry and style as usual.

Also, you don’t need to wait for a paint mishap to try out this ultra-hydrating at-home therapy. This moisturizing technique can be used on a weekly basis to transform hair that has been damaged by heat and environmental stress.


Paint isn’t something that you usually want to be caked into your hair and if it isn’t dealt with properly, it can cause your locks to dry out and become brittle.

Dry, brittle hair will not only look unhealthy, but it will also feel unhealthy as well. If you find yourself in a predicament where your locks have inadvertently been painted, try one of the easy and inexpensive tips listed above.

If the options outlined in this article don’t work, some women have tried using nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, carpet cleaner, hydrogen peroxide, mineral spirits, and other methylated spirits, like denatured alcohol.

We don’t include these substances within the scope of the article, because in most cases they’re not necessary to remove paint and these additional options are harsher on the hair.

Although, there of many different types of paint, and some paint stains may not respond to the solutions outlined in this article. If so, you may have to try one of the harsher methods.

This article is part of a Curl Centric series focused on how to eliminate smells or remove physical items that are commonly found stuck her our reader’s hair. Other items in the series include removing tree sap, gum, nail polish, pomade, Kool-Aid, vaseline, smoke, and bonding glue.

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