Can Acrylic Paint Be Used On Fabric? (Easy How To Guide)

Acrylic paint is one of many paint options known for its fast drying speeds. It’s available in dozens of different colors, providing people with plenty of different shades to choose from to meet their needs.

If you’re thinking about buying it and using it, you may be asking the question, “Can you use acrylic paint on fabric?” Use this guide as your reference to learn more about acrylic paint and using it on different fabrics.  

Can You Use Acrylic Paint On Fabric? 

If you were wondering if acrylic paint works on fabric, you'll be glad to know that it's safe to use on different fabrics.

You can apply the paint to the fabric as you normally would with any other material that you’re using.

The key to getting it to look good is to use heat to seal the paint in place, leaving the fabric looking vibrant and refreshed while keeping the paint from dripping down throughout other parts of the fabric. 

While people commonly mistake fabric paint with acrylic paint, the two products are different.

Acrylic paint is known to have a thicker consistency. 

Because it does have that thicker consistency, it tends to flake a bit faster than the fabric paint.

However, it’s still usable on different types of fabrics, especially when you’re using a fabric medium. 

Acrylic Paint On Shirts

Fabric Medium: Why Do I Need It? 

The fabric medium is an ingredient commonly combined with acrylic paint to make it ready to use on different fabrics.

When the fabric medium gets added to the acrylic paint, it makes it easier to use on fabrics while preventing the colors from flaking with ease, which would typically happen over time when using acrylic paint on fabric without a medium.  

So, what happens if you don’t use fabric medium on acrylic paint when painting fabrics? The surface will begin to crack.

You may feel like you’ve wasted your time applying paint to the fabric because the finished job will begin cracking, ultimately taking away from the overall appearance of the paint job. 

How To Paint Fabric With Acrylic Paint

If you're planning to paint fabric using acrylic paint, be sure to follow the proper steps to get the job done.  

  1. 1
    First, you'll need to combine your thick fabric medium to the acrylic paint. Don't worry; it won't change the color or appearance of the paint in any way.  
  2. 2
    Next, you should grab your paintbrush or any tool you're planning to use to apply the paint to the fabric of your choice. Be sure to paint the fabric at a slow and steady pace.  
  3. 3
    Instead of applying the paint heavily to the fabric, do it one layer at a top, applying more of the paint after each layer. If you take your time, the finished piece will look amazing, and the paint will stay in place without cracking. 
  4. 4
    Seal the paint with heat.  

It’s also possible to dye your fabric with acrylic paint. If you’re planning to do that, you’ll need to combine the acrylic paint with some acrylic medium or even a bit of textile paint to make it usable for such a purpose.

You should always seal the acrylic paint on the fabric. The best way to do that is to use heat. Some people like to use a hairdryer to seal the paint into the fabric. 

How To Paint Fabric With Acrylic Paint Without Medium

You’re probably wondering how to turn acrylic paint into fabric paint without a medium. You're not the only one! If you're trying to do a craft and don't have an acrylic medium, you probably think you're out of luck, but the good news is that there is a substitute worth using.

You can use a combination of one part vinegar with two parts water and one part glycerine to prepare a fabric medium that you can use in your acrylic paint.

It’s important to use the substitute if you don’t have the fabric medium. If you don’t use the substitute, you can expect the paint to crack on your fabric. 

How To Seal Acrylic Paint On Fabric 

Seal your acrylic paint on the fabric by using heat. The simplest way to do this is with a hairdryer.

You can plug the hairdryer into an outlet and hold it a few inches above the fabric, making sure the heat is hitting the acrylic paint that you’ve recently added to it.

However, you can also use a heat gun. If you’ve ever asked, “Does acrylic paint stay on fabric?” you’ll be glad to know that it does as long as you’re sealing it properly with heat.

If you don't have a hairdryer or heat gun, you can hang the fabric outside when it's hot outside. 

The heat from the weather can help seal the acrylic paint in place to prevent the paint from cracking, spreading, or turning into a mess on your fabric. 

acrylic paint on a tote bag

How To Wash Fabrics With Acrylic Paint

Never wash fabrics with acrylic paint before giving the paint time to dry. If you wash the fabrics too soon, the paint will start to come off, and your fabric will end up looking a mess. 

It’s also best to wash these fabrics by hand instead of tossing them in the washing machine. The best way to wash by hand is to use some dishwashing soap and cold water while being gentle with the fabric. If you’re gentle with it, the paint should stay in place. 

Removing Acrylic Paint From Fabric 

So, what do you do if you make a mistake with the acrylic paint and want to remove it from the fabric? You’re probably wondering if that is even possible. The good news is that you can fix mistakes by using rubbing alcohol.

You’d need to apply the alcohol to the fabric, making sure to apply the largest amount of rubbing alcohol on the paint. Grab a dull butter knife and begin scraping away at the paint to remove it. 

Acrylic Paint On Fabric FAQs

Can you use acrylic paint on denim?  

It’s entirely safe to apply acrylic paint on denim. Many people use it on denim jeans, jackets, shorts, and other products. Of course, it’s best to use lighter colors because they’re easier to see on denim than darker colors.

You can also use acrylic paint on all kinds of denim colors, including dark blue, acid wash, and even light blue denim. 

Can you use acrylic paint on fabric shoes?  

It’s safe to use acrylic paint on fabric shoes. Some people do this to add designs or to change the colors of their shoes. If you’re planning to use acrylic paint on your fabric shoes, be sure to use the fabric medium beforehand so that it works. 

What other kinds of paint can I use on fabric?  

You can always use fabric paint designed specifically for use on different fabrics, including shirts, pants, hoodies, shoes, dresses, and so much more. It’s your best option! Of course, if you only have acrylic paint available, you can use that, too. 

Is acrylic paint waterproof?  

Acrylic paint is waterproof to a certain extent. It’s not going to wash away if you don’t want it to do so, but if you wet it with rubbing alcohol and scrape away at it, you can remove it.

However, if you’re allowing it to dry and sealing it with heat, it won’t wash away when you wash it by hand. 


It's possible to use acrylic paint of fabric, but you need to know how to turn acrylic paint into fabric paint without medium or with a medium.

Whether you're using a homemade medium or one bought from the store, you can safely use acrylic paint on different fabric materials as often as you'd like. 

Now that you know it's safe to use on fabric, you can get started on any do-it-yourself craft projects you may have an interest in working on, such as decorating t-shirts or using acrylic paint to dye your clothes.