Can You Use Regular Spray Paint on Fabric? Here’s the Trick!

Image of a spray fabricCan you use regular spray paint on fabric?  This question will never end especially for those who are new to sewing and looking to venture into the trade.

Well, spray paints, also known as Aerosol paints, are applied for decorative and protective purposes on various surfaces. The paints are easy to apply thanks to the ergonomic features of the packaging.

They are packed in pressurized cans that release the paint in form of aerosols; you only have to press a valve button to initiate the release. The spray nature of the paint ensures minimum wastage and it is also highly adhesive. The nozzles are so accurate that your work will appear uniform and well defined.

In this article, I’ll channel my focus on the feasibility of regular spray paint with fabric in a bid to get a comprehensive solution to the never-ending question; can you use regular spray paint on fabric? 

Yes. You can use spray paint on fabric. Even as you do that, ensure that you have a strict consideration of the fabric type you want to spray paint. If durability is one of the things you are looking to achieve, use spray paint on polyester or silk. Also, ensure that the spray paint you are using is acrylic based and neutral. It would be best if you can prime the fabric.

You will realize that these paint cans are highly pressurized. The formula jets out of the nozzle, making it essential that you clearly map out your design to avoid making mistakes in the process.

Can You Use Regular Spray Paint on T-Shirts?

Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, trendy, wearable work of art, or a simple decoration on a plain T-shirt, spray paint presents one of the easiest and the most versatile options for you to paint your pieces of clothes. 

You can use regular spray paint on T-shirts. What’s impressive about them is that they are available in many colors, which you might not necessarily exploit to completion.

The varieties give you a lot of flexibility to settle on the kinds of finishes you prefer, from matte to metallic. A lot of factors come into play when you are picking the right color for your project. Such factors include personal tastes, health issues, as well as your budget.

What Type of Spray Paint Should I Use On a T-Shirt?

Here are some of the spray paints you can use on a T-shirt:

  • The Soft Fabric Spray Paint

Simply spray paint, it answers the question, Can You Use Regular Spray Paint on Fabric?There are spray paints specifically for fabric, making them the best choice if you are looking to decorate your T-shirt.

In most cases, if not all, the soft fabric spray paint is designed to blend perfectly with the T-shirt’s materials.

When the T-shirt is dry, you will find it hard to notice a texture to the paint. 

There are a lot of brands of fabric paint on the market. A good number of these brands will tell you how safer they are compared to traditional spray paint.

A perfect example is Simply Spray, which claims that its formula contains zero toxins and has a kitchen-safe propellant that makes it even safe for kids to use.

Most fabric spray paints are safer to use in both indoor and outdoor environments. Even so, you must go for fabric paint that you can use on clothing. A fabric spray paint meant for upholstery is not safe, especially on washing machines, and might cause some level of contamination.

  • Use Stencil Fabric Spray Paint

Stencil, also called line fabric spray paint, is the same as soft fabric spray paint. However, this formula comes with a texture. When you use this formula on your T-shirts, you will likely notice that it raises up off your cloth. Alternatively, it can dry to a texture that is similar to that of screen print paints. 

  • Choose the Multipurpose Spray Paint

You can also choose to use regular spray paint on your clothing, specifically T-shirts, in this case. Krylon, for instance, recommends that you use its indoor/outdoor varieties of formulas.

Other brands also have a provision for using such stains on fabrics. It is not okay to assume that all the paints are usable on T-shirts; therefore, ensure that you check the labels on these products before buying them for use on fabrics.

If you see a particular brand giving an okay for its formula to be used on fabrics, then go ahead and use that formula on your T-shirts. One thing that separates the fabric paint and its multipurpose counterpart is applying the multipurpose product in a proper ventilation room.

Alternatively, you can apply your multipurpose paint outdoors in the open with a free circulation of air.

You can use it to protect yourself from the toxins present in these formulas by having your mask on during the application. 

  • Use of Metallic Formula

More or less, like the multipurpose spray paint, you must observe a great extent of caution while applying this formula compared to the fabric paint. With the right steps and application procedures, it’s a lot easier to enhance your fabric art, giving it a shine and shimmer with metallic spray paints in the process.

Spray Painting Tips For Fabrics

Follow the following tips for better outcomes when painting your fabric:

Ventilation: ensure you work in open spaces or if it’s indoors, the room has to be well-aerated. Good air circulation hastens the process of drying and adhesion. Wear protective headgear, like face masks and goggles, when painting to prevent harmful contact with the spray chemicals.

Shaking: Shake the spray can well before use and continue shaking it regularly during the entire course of painting; this ensures the homogeneity of chemical constituents of the paint. Your work ends up uniform in color and paints thickness.

Drying: The best temperature range for drying is between 68⁰F-85⁰F, but the most optimum is 75⁰F. Warm temperature coupled with low relative humidity of between 30%-60% is the most ideal condition for drying and complete curing.

Coating: Spray painting fabric is done using multiple paint layers. It is imperative that you apply the outer layer (coating) within an hour of painting; waiting any longer will result in cracking out or wrinkling.

How to Paint Fabric

Well, most of you get it wrong while trying to apply paints to their fabrics. I wouldn’t blame you because applying paint on fabric is not the simplest to do. However, I have provided you with some tips to make the application a smooth one. Read on for more:

Requirements for fabric painting

Ideally, if you are a beginner, you can paint over your fabrics with 3 primary fabric paint colors: blue, red, and yellow, plus a brush or two. However, you should know that you can use a lot more than those for a more complete painting.

  • Brushes

When selecting brushes, consider your fabric material and the design of the painting. Materials such as silk require smaller and finer brushes, while carbon and linen require larger brushes with stronger bristles.

Round tip brushes – There are two types of these brushes; the tiny round tip brush is excellent for making small details. You can also use a bigger round tip brush according to your needs. They come in various sizes to meet your desired design plan. Natural brushes are easier and more comfortable to use on fabric compared to synthetic brushes, but the synthetic brushes will still make do; the difference is manageable. 

Flat tip brushes/Shader brushes – These brushes are great when it comes to shading and highlighting tasks. Additionally, these brushes are great for blending. Flat shaders are perfect for creating leaf strokes and clear-cut margins. Again, natural brushes have a slight edge on synthetic brushes in terms of convenience, but you can still work with synthetic ones if they’re more accessible. 

Lining brushes -As you can tell from their name, these brushes are for making lines. The lines are long and thin, ideal for drawing scrolls and stems. 

Foam Brushes: The brushes are perfect for you when working on large areas because they come with wooden handles. These brushes also give your art a smooth outlook. 

Outliners filled with paint: They are great if you intend to have 3D outlines on your fabric-especially if you are doing liquid embroidery on your clothing. 

A faintly unrelated remark I’d like to make concerning the brushes is you should wipe them when finished, then wash well and don’t leave them soaked.

  • Permanent markers: The markers are great for quick painting; they help you make outlines and black drawings.
  • Scrubbers: These are ideal for blending colors and producing stipples. Stippling is the art of painting or drawing using numerous patterns of small dots.
  • Natural and Synthetic sponges: sea sponges enable you to create limitless and unique marks and effects. They are mainly used after painting or drawing.
  • Paints

There are different types of paints for fabrics; the paints come in different colors and shades to give you the liberty of choice. The broadest categorization of paints is into two groups: The first is acrylic fabric paints and the second one is oil-based fabric paints.

Acrylic paint is the best for fabric; it’s also called textile paint. This paint is made of acrylic polymer bonded with color/pigment then emulsified. It’s therefore resistant to multiple washes and routine use.

Take into account the following factors when selecting your paint:

Transparency and consistency: if you want the underlying fabric to remain visible even after painting, choose a transparent or translucent paint. They normally flow easily and are less dense.

If you want to cover your fabric completely, go for opaque paint; they are more viscous and denser than transparent and translucent paints.

Texture and outlook of the paint: if you want a 3D image outlook on your fabric, use the “puff” paint: the paint dries with a raised finish giving your fabric a cool and sightly finish, especially for kids.

The scale of operation: larger projects require large volumes of paint and larger painting equipment, while smaller projects require small volumes of paint and smaller painting tools. Make sure you buy enough paint to last you through your entire project.

Step by Step Painting of Fabric Using Hands

Step One: Cleaning and Drying of the Fabric

The first thing you should do before you start painting your fabric is to ensure that it is clean. Go about washing your fabric; allow it to dry by hanging out in the sun. After it dries, you can iron it out to remove possible wrinkles present on the surface. Ensure that the fabric is smooth so that it won’t interfere with your painting patterns.

Step Two: Choosing the Right Paints

There are loads of paints available in the market today. Even so, not all of them work perfectly with fabrics, so if you go into the market for such a product, ensure that you pick the right one.

One guiding factor to help you land the perfect product is the type of fabric you intend to paint.

Step Three: Settle on the Painting Method

As might already know that there are several kinds of paints in the market, so are the painting methods. Some of these methods are simple such that even kids can perform them. In fact, they are just the regular painting methods that you must have interacted with before.

You can go for spray painting or hand brushing, whichever works best for you.

Step Four: What’s Your Designing Pattern?

You cannot just wake one morning and start painting your fabric. You must pre-design the pattern you intend to have on your fabric before beginning the painting work. So, ensure that as you prepare for your project, you have your patterns ready to avoid making unnecessary mistakes,

Step Five: Apply the Paint

Once you have chosen the design pattern that you desire for your fabric, you can go ahead and apply your paints. Apply the formula slowly and smoothly.

Ensure that you are doing a single color at a time. The application of one color will ensure that you don’t make mistakes in the process, helping you get the best finish possible.

Watch the video below on spraying a fabric

Step Six: Allow Your Fabric To Dry

Once you are through with your project, allow it to dry for some hours so that the colors adhere appropriately to the surface. After the colors dry, you can iron the fabric from the backside to allow the colors to stick permanently on the surface.

Afterward, you can wash and wear your clothes.

What Is the Best Paint to Use On Fabric?

Your best bet on the paint to use on fabric is the Acrylic fabric paint/ textile paint. These formulas have pigment suspended in an acrylic medium, which is meant for use on fabrics.

Alternatively, you can go for all-purpose acrylic paint and do a hand painting on your clothes. If you choose to use an all-purpose formula, ensure that you mix fabric medium so that it is suitable for use on fabrics. 

Fabric medium is a thick liquid that is typically opaque when still wet but turns colorless when it dries. The regular Acrylic paint dries to a hard finish on the fabric’s surface and may even crack once it dries. The medium helps make the acrylic flexible hence preventing cracking.

Mix the medium in a ratio of 1 part fabric medium to 2 parts acrylic paint- ensure that you stir correctly before you use it.

Fabric Painting Do’s and Don’ts


Ensure your fabric is clean before commencing the painting process.

Always wash the painted fabric using a washing machine with mild detergents. If a washing machine is not available, wash gently with your hands.

Heat-set the fabric using an iron box after painting; it makes your drawings and paintings adhere well and also prevents loss of color.

Give your fabric enough drying and curing time: 24 hours and 72 hours respectively.

Use the right brush commensurate with your fabric material.

Use general painting techniques. Painting or drawing on fabrics isn’t much different from any other surface. If you’re experienced in painting, say walls or wood surfaces, just employ the same skills when dealing with fabrics.


Don’t start painting without a map or a plan. You have to know the exact pattern or type of art you want to produce on your workpiece. Trace out the drawings on the fabric before the actual painting to guide you when painting.

Don’t interfere with the drying process whatsoever: avoid moving the fabric around, touching, or wearing before dries and cures, unless it’s necessary.

Don’t use too much paint on the fabric. The fabric can only absorb enough paint depending on its material. Too much paint will lead to raised dry patches on the fabric that will obviously damage the allure of your art. Conversely, using little amounts of paint has its downsides as the fabric will absorb most of it making your work appear faded.

Don’t be impatient with the fabric painting project. Follow the painting process keenly and don’t jump any step. Ensure your timing is in line with the recommended durations in this article: if you hasten the process, there’s a high risk of messing up.

How Long Does Spray Paint Take To Dry On Fabric?

The standard time it takes for spray paint to dry is 2 hours, while the time it takes to fully cure and adhere is 3 days. The statement above represents the average time; the durations vary depending on the type of spray paint, weather conditions, the thickness and number of coats used, and the fabric material.

Regarding the type of spray paint, acrylic formulas will dry within an hour or two while oil-based formulas will take about 12 hours.

The optimum weather conditions for faster drying time is low relative humidity and warm to high temperature. After spray-painting, air out your fabric in well-ventilated spaces with warm weather for the spray paint to stay within the 3-day drying time; cold weather and high relative humidity prolong the drying time.

However, it’s harder to achieve the above optimal conditions during winter or cold weather; if that’s the situation, I recommend you to let your fabric dry indoors with the help of a dehumidifier, heaters, and fans to accelerate the drying process.

Thicker and multiple spray paint coats take longer to dry while thinner and fewer coats take shorter drying time. It’s important to paint your fabric in a light and even manner to minimize the drying time. I don’t recommend using fewer coats as it will be detrimental to the overall quality of your work.

On the fabric material, some such as leather require longer durations for the spray paint to adhere, dry, and cure: I recommend you to use a primer before spray-painting to improve bonding and shorten drying time.

Can You Use Spray Paint on Cotton Fabric?

Yes! Cotton ranks among the best fabrics for spray painting. Cotton handles spray paint quite well due to its soft and firm nature, absence of creases, and excellent adhesive surface. Ensure your cotton fabric is clean and ironed out before you apply the spray paint.

How do You Keep Fabric Paint From Cracking?

After painting, let the fabric dry for at least 24 hours before touching and at least 72 hours before washing or using in any way. I advise you to always turn the fabric inside out and then wash gently.

Also, you can wash the fabric using warm water; it’s important to note that this doesn’t help much so it doesn’t matter as much as the preceding points.

Another even more important way to prevent cracking is performing heat setting on the spray-painted area of the fabric; this is done 24 hours after painting.

Heat setting is a technique that involves ironing a given area of the fabric for long and without any steam settings on the iron box. I advise you to iron the painted area of the fabric from the wrong side/inside out. Alternatively, lay a light scrap fabric on top of the painted fabric then heat-set.

As you may have guessed, ironing from the wrong side or laying a scrap fabric prevents you from charring the fabric accidentally, and also prevent the heat from smudging the paint on the fabric. Heat setting removes creases and etches the paint into the fabric for better adherence and curing.

Incidentally, if the fabric is strong, set the iron box between medium to high; if the fabric is light or delicate use a lower heat setting on the iron box.


Regular spray paints are diverse and flexible for you to use on different painting projects. They are easy to apply regardless of the painting surface, you only have to follow the right application procedure for each surface.

Other than the procedure, there are external factors that you’ll to consider for the convenience of this undertaking. The external factors include temperature, relative humidity, and ventilation. I’ve centered this article on fabric and so…

Can You Use Regular Spray Paint on Fabric?

Yes, feel free to use these spray paints on fabrics. Even so, ensure that the fabric and the spray paint you are using will be a perfect match. One more thing you can do to improve the results is to use a primer to enhance the bond between the fabric and the formula.

We’ve come to the ending segment of the article, and after reading all of the above, using regular spray paint on fabric should be as easy as A, B, C. Go ahead and work your magic on a piece of fabric using the intel herein, I can guarantee you success in the superlative sense.

I hope this script was helpful and answered all your questions regarding fabric painting using regular spray paint. If you have a question, opinion, or suggestion, please share it with me in the comment section below.

Leave a Comment