Last Updated on December 10, 2021 by Katie Barton
You pull out your stash of acrylic paint and set it up on your wood table, hoping to keep the kids busy while you get some work done.
A couple of hours go by, and as you’re putting the paint away, you spot several dots of color.
Now, you’re wondering how to clean it up.
Getting dried acrylic paint off of wood is difficult but not impossible. Here’s how to remove acrylic paint from a wood table.
How to Remove Wet Acrylic Paint From a Wood Table
If you spotted the paint on your table while it’s still wet, you’re in luck. Cleaning wet acrylic paint is incredibly easy. All you need to do is wipe it up with a damp paper towel.
If there’s a little left behind, use some dish soap and microfiber cloth to clean it up.
Top Five Ways to Remove Dried Acrylic Paint from a Wood Table
If the paint has already dried on your table, you’re not so lucky. Instead, you might have to try a few different methods before successfully removing it.
Before working on the paint spots, do a spot test. In all likelihood, none of these methods will damage your wood table, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
Here’s how to remove dried acrylic paint from a wood table – the top five ways.
Use a Scraper
The most gentle method for removing paint from a table is a plastic scraper – if you don’t have a scraper use a credit card or library card.
Gently use the corner of your scraper or card and remove the dried-on paint.
If that doesn’t work, you’ll need to use your scraper combined with one of the methods below.
Dish Soap and Water
Dish soap and water is one of the mildest cleaning combinations and can help you get that dried paint off your table.
Here’s what to do:
- Soak a rag in hot soapy water
- Scrub the paint
- Resoak the rag and then lay it on the paint spot for five minutes
- Wipe away what you can
- Scrape the rest of the paint away (it should be softened by this point)
You can keep repeating this process until all of the acrylic paint is gone. If your wood table is painted, this is probably the safest method to use.
Rubbing alcohol can help dissolve dried paint. However, it is the harshest of the methods used, so spot check in an inconspicuous place first.
Here’s how to use rubbing alcohol to remove dried acrylic paint:
- Pour rubbing alcohol on a cotton swab or paper towel
- Rub the alcohol on to the paint
- Wipe away with a clean cloth
- Repeat until the paint is completely gone
You can also follow up with hot soapy water and a microfiber rag.
Olive oil is a natural method for removing dried paint and may work depending on the freshness of your stain.
Here’s what to do:
- Place a few drops of olive oil over the paint stains
- Cover the stains with a fresh cloth and leave for at least one hour
- Try to scrape the paint off
If the paint doesn’t come all the way off after this, grab your hot soapy rag and start scrubbing.
Sand it Off (Unfinished Wood Only)
If your table is unfinished wood, you lucked out. You can easily remove the paint by sanding it off.
Use a piece of 150 grit sandpaper or a medium grit sanding sponge and very lightly go over the paint marks until they’re gone.
Don’t be too heavy-handed, or you’ll leave noticeable sand marks on your table.
How to Prevent Paint from Getting on Your Table
Trying to remove acrylic paint from any surface is not a fun chore. Trust me – I’ve been there. My kids paint a lot, and I still have a few dots of paint on my living room table that I haven’t gotten to yet.
So, it goes without saving – prevention is the best way to avoid this mess.
All you need to do is throw an old sheet over the table the next time you let your kids paint. You can also pick up a table cover from the dollar store and use it for paint time.
While challenging, removing acrylic paint from a wood table isn’t impossible. If you can clean the paint while it’s wet, you’ll have a very easy time.
If the paint is dry, start by scraping as much off as possible. Then, turn to dish soap, olive oil, or rubbing alcohol for safe and effective removal.
Katie Barton is the owner of Cabin Lane. She's also a home improvement writer for Bob Vila and Homedit. Her cleaning and organizing advice has been featured on Realtor.com, Yahoo News, GoBankingRates, and more. In her spare time, you can find her with a paintbrush in hand, searching for her next project.