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How To Turn Acrylic Paint into Fabric Paint Without Medium?

how to turn acrylic paint into fabric paint without medium

If you have a couple of open jars of acrylic paint lying around, you can turn them into fabric paint that you can use to customize your old clothes. Typically, you will need to use a medium to make acrylic into fabric paint. Now, the ultimate question is how to turn acrylic paint into fabric paint without medium?

Is it possible? Yes, it is. Although the resulting product will not be quite as effective as real fabric paint, it will still provide nice results. If you want to learn how to do this, continue reading this article.

If you just want to make a quick t-shirt painting project and you don’t want to buy a medium, you can do it without one. How to turn acrylic paint into fabric without medium? Here are the steps:

Using Glycerin

If you like making your soaps, you might have some glycerin in your home. You can use this substance to turn regular acrylic into usable fabric paint.

What to prepare:

  • Vegetable glycerin
  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes or stencils
  • Dry iron

Detailed Steps

Step 1 – Measure enough amounts of the ingredients

The important thing to remember here is that you will need 2 times the amount of water and vinegar you will be using. For instance, if you will be using 5ml of glycerin and 5ml of white vinegar, you should mix them with 20ml of clean water.

Step 2 – Mix the homemade medium ingredients

Pour the vinegar, glycerin, and water into a jar. Place the cover and shake the ingredients vigorously until you have incorporated everything well.

Step 3 – Mix the medium with the acrylic paint

There is no exact amount of homemade medium for you to use. The main reason is that acrylic paints do not react the same. It is better to mix it gradually until you get the right consistency.

So, put your acrylic paint in a container, and add 1 teaspoon of the glycerin mixture. Continue until you get the right consistency for painting on the fabric you will be painting on. The fabric should easily absorb the paint and should not allow it to sit on the surface. This means the paint should be a bit loose.

Step 4 – Test the paint on an old shirt with a similar fabric

Before using the paint on its intended fabric, you should first try if it works on an older shirt. If you cannot find a suitable test garment, you can try applying a small dab of paint on a hidden portion of the shirt.

Step 5 – Apply the paint to the garment

Once the paint has the right consistency, you can start applying it to the fabric. This is when you can start getting creative. You can use paintbrushes, stencils, or even stamps to apply whatever design you want.

I suggest stretching the garment over a flat surface. This will give you a surface that’s easier to work with, sort of like a canvas.

Step 6 – Allow the garment to dry

Hang the garment out to let it air dry. Don’t use a machine dryer as this will only mess up your designs. You can also use a hairdryer if the weather is not cooperating with you.

Step 7 – Inspect your work

Once the garment is completely dry, check your design if it stayed. The amount of flaking paint should be minimal to none. If you find that there is no flaking, then you have successfully made the acrylic paint into fabric paint.

If you want to touch up your design, rest assured that you can do so. Just remember to let it dry before proceeding to the next step.

Step 8 – Set the design

Once you’re satisfied with the design, you need to set it. Place a sheet of paper on an ironing board then reverse the garment. After that, place another sheet of paper on the reverse side, and then iron over the paper. Make sure that the steam setting is off and that you are only using heat.

turn acrylic paint into fabric paint

Using Glue and Shaving Cream

What to Prepare:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Shaving cream
  • White glue
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dry iron

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Mix the ingredients

In a small container, combine 1 teaspoon of acrylic paint, 3 tablespoons of shaving cream, and 1 tablespoon of white glue. Mix thoroughly until the color is uniform. The resulting paste is the fabric paint.

Step 2 – Test out the paint

Check if the paint is the right consistency. The paint might seem thick, but the fabric should still be able to absorb it.

Step 3 – Paint on the fabric

If you think that the paint is the right consistency, you can start painting on the fabric. You can apply the paint using a paintbrush, or you can use a stencil.

Step 4 – Let the paint dry thoroughly

Because the paint is a bit thick, you should let it air-dry for at least 24 hours. Run your fingers lightly over the design to make sure that it is completely dry.

Step 5 – Set the paint using an iron

Lay the garment down and place a sheet of paper, preferably wax paper or parchment paper over the design. Make sure that the steam function is off and set the iron on medium-high to high, and proceed to iron on the design to set it permanently on the garment. This should take around 2 to 3 minutes.

Step 6 – Wash the garment

Proceed to wash the garment on a gentle wash cycle to remove any paint fragments left on the surface. If you have made the paint properly, the design should have minimal to no fading.

Using Straight Acrylic Paint

You can also use acrylic paint straight without adding anything to it, but you will need a couple of extra steps though.

What to Prepare:

  • Acrylic paint
  • Water (optional)
  • Paintbrushes
  • Dry iron

Detailed Steps:

Step 1 – Prepare the fabric

You will need to sand the top of the fabric lightly with a fine-grit sandpaper. Something like 240-grit sandpaper would be good. Anything coarser might damage the fabric too much.

Stretch out the garment over a flat surface and secure the ends to make it easier to paint on. Rub the fabric with the sandpaper just enough to give the acrylic paint something to hold onto. If the surface is too smooth, most of the acrylic would just rest on top and flake off after drying.

Step 2 – Wet the fabric

Use a spray bottle to moisten the part of the fabric that you will be painting on.

Step 3 – Prepare the paint

You will only need to add a bit of water to make the paint a bit loose so that it will adhere better to the fabric. This will also prevent the paint from flaking too much once dried.

Step 4 – Proceed to paint the garment

You can start painting the fabric with acrylic paint using whatever tool you like. You can use a paintbrush or a silkscreen stencil. If you will be using a paintbrush to draw on the garment, continuously spray water on the garment. This will help the fabric absorb the paint.

Step 5 – Set the paint

After you finish painting, let the garment dry for at least 24 hours. Once the paint dried thoroughly, place a piece of paper over the painted area and iron over it using a flat iron. This will set the paint so that it will not wash away when you launder the garment.

Remember to not wash the garment for at least three days to allow the paint to set in even further.

Helpful Tips

  • Paint on silk or cotton fabric with a tight weave – Doing so will let you get brighter and more vibrant colors.
  • Use masking tape or apply wax – You can create sharp edges on the fabric by using masking tape or applying wax to keep paint from getting into the fabric.
  • If you want to use different colors, allow the first color to dry first before applying the other – This will stop the paints from mixing in the fabric.


Although it is much better to use a medium, learning how to turn acrylic paint into fabric paint without medium can also be handy when you just want a quick project. The methods discussed in this article might not provide the same results as true fabric paint, but you will be giving it a lot of personality.


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