Getting Rid of Paint Spills, Stains, and Those Greasy Oil Pastels

Lets talk about stains! Many of you know I am an avid thriftier. I don’t like to pay full price for clothing that might get ruined in the art room.

There are so many opportunities for stains to happen in the art room, I thought we could dive a little deeper into the topic.


Two of the best things I have found to get stains out of my own clothing are Tide to Go sticks (for stains on the run and in a pinch) and Oxy Clean (for that tough stain that needs longer soaking).

But how do you handle it when a student gets paint on themselves?

Do you require them to wear art aprons? I recommend giving students a choice at the beginning of the lesson. I tell them not to come crying to their parents, or send their parents to me, if they do get a stain, since they had the choice to wear an apron. Ironically, the part that usually gets clobbered with paint is the ARMS of their shirt, which an apron doesn’t cover. Rats. Don’t forget to remind them to roll up their sleeves.

Even high schoolers, with their trendy brands of clothing will not be pleased with a permanent paint stain on their clothes. The slide below is taken from my beginning of the year Power Point. I also wear an apron myself on messy art days.

I also switched to 100% washable tempera to try and avoid the problem completely, but this took years of using up old paint and slowly ordering new colors in all my paints. Well worth it, in my opinion.

Another unlikely stain culprit is your art room floor. White tiles are a disaster zone when it comes to stains. We all know what happens when a dropped oil pastel gets a student sneaker to latch onto and go for a ride – all. over. the. floor. You can see the little breadcrumb trail of oil pastel in various places around the room. No matter how much I scrubbed, that color liked to stay embedded into the tile until I had the custodian bring me something a little more powerful.

Stains happen. We can avoid them, and we can manage them. So help out your colleagues, and share your best tricks in this “dirty” little issue in the art room.

What is your best method for getting stains out of yours – and your students – clothing?

Any other unlikely stain culprits in your art room? 

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Jessica Balsley

Jessica Balsley is AOEU’s Founder and a former AOEU Writer and elementary art educator. She is passionate about helping art teachers enhance their lives and careers through relevant professional development.

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