Can You Use Regular Spray Paint on Fabric? How to Spray Paint Fabric In 5 Easy Steps

Can 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.

Spray paint is becoming a popular product for decorating and protecting various surfaces. It is easy to apply because all you need to do is press a nozzle to release the paint. Moreover, the nozzle releases the paint evenly, thus the resulting finish is always uniform.

Regular spray paints work on all sorts of surfaces including metal, wood, and concrete. But the one thing that every seamstress wants to know is whether it will also work on fabric.

Therefore, they always ask, Can You Use Regular Spray Paint On Fabric?

Yes, you can use regular spray paint on fabric. It is an affordable and easy product for customizing your clothes and other home textiles.

However, you must select a spray paint compatible with your fabric for the paint to last. You must also prime the fabric to promote paint adhesion and make your work flawless.

In this article, I’ll discuss everything you must master before using regular spray paint on fabric. I’ll talk about the best spray paints to use on T-shirts.

I’ll also discuss the best ways to apply spray paints on fabric for a uniform finish.

Can You Use Regular Spray Paint on T-Shirts?

Yes, you can use regular spray paint on T-shirts. Spray paint is the most versatile option for creating trendy works of art on T-shirts, no matter the material.

The impressive thing about spray paint is that it comes in many colors. Several colors give you unlimited options to showcase your talent.

Furthermore, it comes in all kinds of finishes, including matte and metallic. These allow you to achieve the exact image you visualized for your T-shirt.

Colors and finishes aside, several factors come into play when picking spray paint for T-shirts. These include personal taste and 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

Can You Use Regular Spray Paint on Fabric?
A Spray Paint

These are spray paints designed specifically for fabric. They are the best choice if you want to decorate your T-shirt. Soft fabric spray paints blend perfectly with the T-shirt’s material.

Therefore, you will not notice a texture to the paint after the T-shirt dries. There are a lot of brands of fabric paint on the market. A good number of them will tell you how safer they are compared to traditional spray paint.

A perfect example is Simply Spray, whose formula contains zero toxins.

It also has a kitchen-safe propellant that makes it even safer 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.

It can easily contaminate anything that comes into contact with the T-shirt.

  • 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 clothes.

Alternatively, it can dry to a texture that is similar to that of screen print paints. 

  • Choose the Multipurpose Spray Paint

Paint manufacturers created multipurpose spray paints to make it easier for beginners to shop. You can use such products indoors or outdoors.

Moreover, they can work on all types of surfaces including fabric. Even so, you should never assume that all multipurpose paints are usable on fabric.

Ensure that you read the label on the product. If fabric is one of the materials listed as appropriate, then you can go ahead and use the paint.

Additionally, you should always use multipurpose spray paints outdoors or in a well-ventilated room. The reason is that they tend to have toxins and they emit an odor that you cannot ignore.

  • Use of Metallic Formula

Like the multipurpose spray paint, you must observe great caution while applying metallic formulas to your T-shirts. With the right steps and application procedures, it’s a lot easier to enhance your fabric art. A metallic formula will give it a shine and shimmer that’s hard to ignore.

Spray Painting Tips For Fabrics

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

Ventilation: Ensure that you work in open spaces. If you’re working indoors, ensure that the room is well-aerated. Good air circulation hastens the process of drying and adhesion.

Also, wear protective headgear, like face masks and goggles. They will prevent harmful contact with the spray chemicals.

Shaking: Shake the spray can well before use. Ensure that you continue shaking it regularly during the entire course of painting. Shaking the spray can ensure that the chemical constituents of the paint mix evenly.

As a result, your work will end up uniform in color and paint coat thickness.

Drying: The best temperature range for drying is between 68⁰F-85⁰F, but the optimum is 75⁰F. A warm temperature and low relative humidity of between 30%-60% is the best condition for drying and curing spray paint

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. Failure to do so will cause the finish to crack or wrinkle.

How to Paint Fabric

Well, most of you get it wrong while trying to apply paints to their fabrics.  I don’t blame you because applying paint on fabric is not the simplest to do.

Therefore, 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. You can use blue, red, and yellow; mixing them up to create new colors as you go.

You will also need a few brushes of different sizes for detail. However, you should know that you can use a lot more than those for a more complete painting.

1. Brushes

When selecting brushes, consider your fabric material and the design of the painting. Materials such as silk require smaller and finer brushes.

On the other hand, carbon and linen fabrics require larger brushes with stronger bristles. Below are the brush options you have for painting fabric:

Round tip brushes vary in size ranging from very small ones to large ones. The tiny round-tip brush is excellent for making small details.

On the other hand, the large ones are ideal for larger details. Natural round tip brushes are easier and more comfortable to use on fabric compared to synthetic brushes.

However, the synthetic brushes will still work because the difference is manageable. 

Flat tip brushes/Shader brushes are great when it comes to shading, blending, and highlighting tasks.  They are also perfect for creating leaf strokes and clear-cut margins. 

Again, natural brushes have a slight edge over synthetic brushes in terms of convenience. However, you can still work with synthetic ones if they’re more accessible. 

Lining brushes are perfect for making lines.  The lines are long and thin, ideal for drawing scrolls and stems. 

Foam Brushes are perfect for you when working in large areas because they come with wooden handles.

These brushes also give your art a smooth outlook. 

2. Outliners and Markers

Other than brushes, you can also use outliners and markers to paint on fabric.

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

Permanent markers are great for quick painting; they help you make outlines and black drawings.

Scrubbers 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 enable you to create limitless and unique marks and effects. They are mainly used after painting or drawing.

3. Paints

There are different types of paints for fabrics. They 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; therefore, many people call it textile paint.

This paint is made of acrylic polymer bonded with color/pigment and 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.

On the other hand, go for opaque paint if you want to cover your fabric completely. 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. This type of paint dries with a raised finish. It gives 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. On the other hand, 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.  Wash your fabric then hang it out in the sun to dry.

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. However, 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

There are several kinds of paints on the market, and 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 up 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 your patterns are ready before you start the project. It will help you avoid making unnecessary mistakes,

Step Five: Apply the Paint

After choosing the design you want, you can go ahead and apply your paints.  Apply the formula slowly and smoothly ensuring that you are doing a single color at a time.

Applying one color will ensure that you don’t make mistakes in the process. It will guarantee 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 as instructed on your spray paint. Proper drying will allow the colors to adhere appropriately to the surface.

After the colors dry, you can iron the fabric from the backside. This will 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 Acrylic fabric paint/ textile paint.  These formulas have pigment suspended in an acrylic medium, meant for use on fabrics.

Alternatively, you can go for all-purpose acrylic paint. If you choose to use an all-purpose formula, ensure that you mix it with fabric medium. 

Fabric medium is a thick liquid that is typically opaque when still wet. However, it turns colorless when it dries.

The regular Acrylic paint dries to a hard finish and may even crack once it dries.  The medium helps make the acrylic flexible, thus preventing cracking.

Mix the medium in a ratio of 1 part fabric medium to 2 parts acrylic paint. Also, ensure that you stir it 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 compatible with your fabric material. Use general painting techniques because painting on fabrics is the same as painting on other materials.

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.

Avoid moving the fabric around, touching, or wearing it 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. These patches will damage the allure of your art.

Conversely, using little amounts of paint has its downsides. 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 on fabric is 2 hours.  It will take up to  3 days to cure and adhere fully to the material.

The statements above represent the average drying time of spray paint. However, the durations vary depending on the type of spray paint and weather conditions.

The number of coats you apply, and the fabric’s material also play a major role. Regarding the type of spray paint, acrylic formulas will dry within an hour or two.

On the other hand, oil-based formulas will take about 12 hours. The optimum weather conditions for faster drying time are low relative humidity and warm-high temperature.

Cold weather and high relative humidity prolong the drying time. Therefore, always air out your fabric in warm, well-ventilated spaces.

This will allow the spray paint to stay within the 3-day drying time. It’s harder to achieve the above optimal conditions during winter or cold weather.

if that’s the situation, I recommend you let your fabric dry indoors. You can use a dehumidifier, heaters, and fans to accelerate the drying process.

Thicker and multiple spray paint coats take longer to dry. On the other hand, thinner and fewer coats take a shorter 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 set. I recommend you use a primer before spray painting.

The primer will improve bonding and shorten drying time.

Can You Use Spray Paint on Cotton Fabric?

Yes!  you can use spray paint on cotton fabric. Cotton handles spray paint quite well due to its soft and firm nature. It also lacks creases which would make painting a challenge.

For this reason, it is among the best fabrics for spray painting. 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 it. You must also give it at least 72 hours before washing or using it in any way.

I advise you to always turn the fabric inside out and then wash gently. Another way to prevent cracking is to perform a heat setting on the spray-painted area. It is best to do this at least 24 hours after painting.

Heat setting is a technique that involves ironing a given area of the fabric for a long time. It removes creases and etches the paint into the fabric for better adherence and curing.

Unlike regular ironing, you won’t need heat settings on your iron when heat setting spray paint. 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 material then heat-set. Ironing from the wrong side or laying a scrap fabric prevents you from accidentally charring the fabric.

It also prevents smudging the paint on the fabric. When heat setting, you must consider the strength and weight of the fabric.

If the fabric is strong, set the iron box between medium to high. For lighter and more delicate fabric, 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.

All you need to do is follow the right application procedure for each surface.  Procedure aside, there are external factors that you must consider to ensure the success of your project.

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 fabricsEven so, ensure that the fabric and the spray paint you are using are compatible.

One more thing you can do to improve the results is to use a primer. It will help enhance the bond between the fabric and the formula.

We’ve come to the ending segment of the article. After reading all of the above, using regular spray paint on fabric should be as easy as A, B, and 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.

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