Can I Use Acrylic Paint to Paint on Fabric?

Randy Charles
Professional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years...Read more

Painting on fabric is a creative way to add unique designs to your clothes, bags, and other clothing items. Usually, fabric paints are used for this. These paints are made to soak into the fabric and stay there, even when you wash the item. Fabric paints come in different types, like water-based and oil-based. They are made to be flexible so the paint doesn’t crack when the fabric moves or stretches.

Short Answer:

yes, you can use it. Acrylic paint is a kind of paint that’s usually used on canvas or paper. It’s made of color pigments and a plastic-like substance. When it dries, it’s kind of like plastic. This makes it strong, but it can also make the fabric stiff.

Acrylic paint isn’t made for fabric, so it doesn’t soak in as well as fabric paint. But, you can mix it with a special liquid called a fabric medium. This medium helps the acrylic paint stick to the fabric better and stay more flexible.

How to Use Acrylic Paint to Paint on Fabric?

Acrylic Fabric

Fabric: Start by picking the right fabric. Fabrics that are smooth and not too stretchy are best. Cotton is a good choice because it absorbs paint well. Avoid fabrics that are shiny or have a lot of textures, as paint might not stick well to them.

Washing the Fabric: Before you start painting, wash the fabric. This is important because new fabric often has oils or chemicals on it. Washing helps to remove these and makes the fabric ready for painting. Use regular laundry detergent, but skip the fabric softener, as it can stop the paint from sticking. After washing, let the fabric dry completely.

Mixing Acrylic Paint with Fabric Medium: Acrylic paint alone can be too stiff for fabric. So, mix it with a fabric medium. This special liquid changes the paint so it sticks to the fabric better and stays flexible. This stops the paint from cracking when the fabric moves or is washed. Check the instructions on the fabric medium to know how much to mix with your paint.

Preparing Your Workspace: Lay the fabric flat on a surface. Put a piece of cardboard inside the fabric, between the layers. This cardboard stops the paint from going through to the other side. Make sure the fabric is smooth without any wrinkles.

Painting Your Design: Now, use brushes suitable for acrylic paint to paint your design. Be careful not to put the paint on too thickly. Thinner layers are better and dry faster. You can add more layers if you need more color.

Letting the Paint Dry: After painting, leave the fabric to dry. It might take a few hours or overnight. The paint needs to be completely dry before you move to the next step.

Heat Setting the Paint: Heat setting makes the paint stay on the fabric, even when you wash it. Place a thin cloth or parchment paper over the painted area. Then, use an iron set to the right temperature for your fabric. Iron over the cloth for a few minutes. Don’t let the iron touch the paint directly.

Washing Instructions: Wait for at least four days before washing the painted fabric. This gives the paint time to set properly. When you wash it, use cold water and a gentle wash cycle. Avoid harsh detergents.

Can I Use Acrylic Paint on Fabric Without Medium

Yes, you can use acrylic paint on fabric without a medium, but there are some things to keep in mind. Acrylic paint is thicker and less flexible than fabric paint. Without a medium, it doesn’t soak into the fabric as well. This can make the paint crack or peel off when the fabric moves or is washed. The paint also makes the fabric feel stiff. This might not be comfortable, especially on clothes.

If you still want to use acrylic paint without a medium, choose the right fabric. A tightly woven fabric, like cotton, works better than a stretchy one. The paint sticks better to it. Before painting, wash and dry the fabric to remove any oils or dirt. This helps the paint stick. When you paint, use thin layers. Let each layer dry before adding another one. This reduces the chance of cracking. After painting, let it dry completely. Heat setting with an iron can also help the paint stick to the fabric better. But, even with these steps, the paint might not last as long as it would with a medium.

Benefits of Using Acrylic Paint to Paint on Fabric

Acrylic paint is easy to find and comes in many colors. You get to choose from a lot of bright and beautiful colors. This paint is also strong. It stays on the fabric well, especially when you mix it with a fabric medium.

Wide Range of Colors

Acrylic paints offer you a big choice of colors. You can find almost any color you want. This lets you be very creative with your designs. You can mix colors too, to make new ones. This is great for making your fabric items look just how you want.


Acrylic paint is strong. It can last a long time on fabric. When you add a fabric medium, it sticks even better. This means your design won’t come off quickly. You can wash and wear your painted items without worrying too much about the paint.

Easy to Use

Acrylic paint is not hard to use. You don’t need special skills. With simple steps, you can paint on fabric. It’s a fun activity that anyone can try. You just need the paint, a brush, and your fabric item.


Acrylic paint is not expensive. It’s a cheap way to make your fabric items look special. You don’t have to buy new clothes or bags. Just paint your old ones to make them look new and unique.


Can I use any type of acrylic paint on the fabric?

Yes, you can use any type of acrylic paint on fabric. However, it’s best to mix it with a fabric medium to improve flexibility and adhesion.

Do I need to prepare the fabric before painting?

Yes, you should wash the fabric without fabric softener to remove oils and dirt. This helps the paint stick better.

How do I stop acrylic paint from cracking on fabric?

To prevent cracking, mix the acrylic paint with a fabric medium. This keeps the paint flexible and less likely to crack.

Can I wash fabric with acrylic paint on it?

Yes, but wait at least four days after painting to wash it. Use cold water and a gentle cycle to keep the paint intact.

Is acrylic paint on the fabric permanent?

Acrylic paint can be permanent on fabric, especially if mixed with a fabric medium and heat-set properly. However, it might wear over time with heavy use and washing.

Randy CharlesProfessional Painter

Randy Charles is the owner of, a website dedicated to providing information, tips, tricks, and news about all things paint. With over 10 years of experience in the painting industry, Randy has become an expert in the field and is passionate about helping others learn more about painting. He has written numerous articles on the subject and is committed to providing accurate and up-to-date information to his readers.

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