How to Soften Acrylic Paint on Fabric?

We all know how fascinating it can be to bring out your old clothes and liven it up with some artwork of your own.

And when it comes to painting on fabrics, acrylic paint has the brightest colors to choose from. You might already know that acrylic paint tends to dry instantly after application.

While it’s beneficial in some ways, it can also be a drawback for others. Once the paint dries off, it’s impossible to remove, and it usually becomes so hard that it starts to crack. This can easily ruin the design of your favorite T-shirt.

So, to rid you off the dilemma, we have found a few tips on how to soften acrylic paint on fabric.

How to Keep Acrylic Paint Soft on Material

It’s almost impossible to soften a year-old acrylic paint on fabric. But thankfully, there is a way you can adulterate acrylic paint to remain soft on a given material. To continue with the process, you will need the following components.

  • Acrylic paint
  • Acrylic paint textile medium
  • Medium-sized artist paint brush
  • Stylus or toothpick
  • Plastic disposable plate
  • Pieces of white paper
  • Iron

First of all, you will need to pour a small amount of acrylic paint on a plastic plate. To make sure the acrylic paint remains soft after drying off, you should add some acrylic paint textile medium.

But you need to do so in just the right amount. One part of the textile medium should be added to two parts of the acrylic paint.

Remember to add the acrylic paint medium directly to the center of the acrylic paint puddle. After that, you must mix them properly. Use a stylus or toothpick to thoroughly stir the mixture until they’re entirely mixed.

Once the mixture is prepared, it’s time to apply the paint. To do so, dip a medium-sized artist paint brush in the mixture, and apply it to the material of your choosing.

When you’re done, let the paint dry off for about 7 days. Any form of heat source will do, but too much heat can dissolve the paint.

After it’s completely dried off, place the material between two pieces of white paper. While doing so, apply heat with the help of an iron. The iron must be set to the fabric setting.

The acrylic paint mixture will fully settle after this process. You will notice that the paint doesn’t have the hardened texture acrylic paint usually has.

The Acrylic Medium

An acrylic medium is an essential chemical used for softening acrylic paint on fabrics. Most acrylic paint companies also manufacture acrylic mediums of their own.

Although they always advise using only their mediums with the acrylic paint, almost any acrylic medium seems to work the same.

However, if you don’t want to spend extra money on a store-bought medium, you can always use glycerol as a viable alternative.

Glycerol is also present in regular acrylic paint, which extends the time needed for drying. It also increases the viscosity of the paint.

Most paint mediums come with their own set of instructions on mixing. Pay attention to them closely if you have never done it before.

However, there are hardly any rules when it comes to adulterating acrylic paint. The more of the medium you mix to the paint, the thinner it will get.

Thinner acrylic paint is much easier to apply on any surface and is also more malleable. Even if it takes longer to dry, it will remain soft and easy on the fabric. However, it won’t look as bright and vibrant as regular acrylic paint.

Using Glycerol

Glycerol can also be used as a potential substitute for commercial acrylic mediums. Too much of it can ruin the viscosity of the acrylic paint.

Therefore, it should be mixed with water before combining it with acrylic paint. The ideal mixture includes 1 part glycerol for every 5 parts of water.

You can also use the same portions of glycerol with acrylic paint (1:5) to retain its efficiency. Don’t forget that some acrylic mediums can be toxic. There are also non-toxic mediums, which are more expensive.

Ways to Use It

As you mix the medium with the acrylic paint, it reaches a certain level of consistency, which is perfect for painting on fabric.

When you reach that consistency, you can apply it on almost any surface with ease. Keep in mind that the more medium you add to the paint, the longer it will take to dry.

Set the measurements according to your needs. Longer drying time means that you can apply the paint on canvas without a care in the world.

You can improvise because you have more room for errors. Apart from that, you can air-brush the mixture. You can even screen print fabric using the solution.


Sadly, there is no proper way to soften old acrylic paint on fabric. But if you choose to follow the aforementioned tips and instructions, you’ll never have to face the same problem again.

Now, you can apply acrylic paint on your clothes and bedsheets without the scratchy, irritating sensation.

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