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How To Stop Acrylic Paint From Washing Off Objects

Art is a fantastic way to put your personal mark on gifts, home decor, clothing items or canvas paintings for wall art. With the pandemic forcing more people to spend their free time at home, picking up new hobbies has been helping maintain sanity. However, with every new hobby, there is a learning curve to all the nuances.

Here’s how to stop acrylic paint from washing off objects:

  1. Choose the right varnish for your project.
  2. Waterproof your acrylic art.
  3. Make sure you’re waterproofing the right surfaces.
  4. Know when to use acrylic paint on cloth surfaces.

If you’ve chosen painting with acrylics as your new artistic medium, we’ve got some painting tips to help ensure your artwork can stand the test of time. Keep reading to learn more about the best way to reinforce your acrylics and create beautiful masterpieces within 24 hours.

1. Choose the Right Varnish for Your Project

You have three options of varnish for your acrylic project. You can use acrylic polymer varnish, acrylic resin varnish, or clear spray paint.

Let’s discuss each one in more detail.

Acrylic Resin

Acrylic resin varnishes are the strongest varnish you can use, as it provides a glossy finish that helps your project look professional and safe. 

There are a couple of downsides to acrylic resin varnish, which include:

  • They are generally toxic to inhale. When protecting your artwork, be sure to protect yourself and others by only applying in a well-ventilated area. 
  • Acrylic resin can leave your finished product looking less clear if you don’t use an isolation coat. An isolation coat creates a barrier between your acrylic paint and the varnish. 

Acrylic Polymer

Acrylic polymer varnish is the non-toxic alternative to resin. You can varnish canvas paintings and other surfaces with acrylic polymer. To learn how to varnish a painting with a polymer based varnish check out that post. This is a great option when ventilation is an issue or if you’re working with small children. Like resin, you can choose different types of finishes like glossy, satin, or matte. 

Although, I would like to mention that different finishes may alter the colors of your art. 

Clear Spray Paint

If you’re concerned that you might smudge your artwork when applying your varnish, you can use clear spray paint. The main benefit of using spray paint is that it will limit any potential smudging, which can occur from brushing varnish on a not-quite-dry project. 

Helpful Tips About Varnishes

If your paint coat is a normal thickness, I recommend waiting 72 hours before applying your varnish, which allows your painting to dry thoroughly. For thicker coats of paint you can wait for up to 2 weeks for the paint to cure. This guidance is crucial for acrylic art that involves large quantities of paint, such as pour art. 

Make sure that you choose a small area to test the varnish before applying it across the entire surface. 

A test piece will ensure that you’re comfortable with the final look of the finish and its effect on the coloring of your paints. You can do this by lightly varnishing a corner or using a scrap piece of the surface. 

2. Waterproof Your Acrylic Art

Luckily, waterproofing your acrylic artwork is really simple. You can use a gloss varnish over a completed project to seal the acrylic paint to the chosen surface. 

There are just 4 simple steps to applying the varnish: 

  1. Make sure your painting is completed before varnishing. 
  2. Choose a suitable varnish for your project. 
  3. Use light sweeping strokes to apply the varnish. 
  4. Allow drying before attempting to move the artwork. 

For an excellent step-by-step on how to varnish your acrylic paintings check out this Youtube video.

In the video, I’ll also share my answers to some important questions like “do I need to seal my acrylic paint on canvas?” & “what products can I use to seal acrylic paint?”.

Finally I’ll share 9 tips that will prepare you to seal/varnish your paintings with ease and confidence.

The Importance of Waterproofing Your Acrylic Art

Art is meant to be preserved to stand the test of time. Acrylic paint is a durable medium, but the elements (both natural and manufactured) can still damage it. Sometimes, these elements can be anticipated, like acrylic art adorning your yard’s landscaping. Sometimes, these elements can sneak up on you, like a poorly placed glass of water meeting your acrylic masterpiece. 

Acrylic paint, when dried, absorbs water that’s exposed to it, because it has tiny pores. So it’s important to waterproof your art to ensure it doesn’t get damaged.

3. Make Sure You’re Waterproofing the Right Surfaces

You can paint lots of different surfaces with acrylic and then varnish to make the art last longer. Some of the most popular ones include: 

Because acrylic is such a sturdy material, you can even paint rocks from your backyard. 

4. Know When To Use Acrylic Paint on Cloth Surfaces

Acrylic paint can be used on clothing. However, there are some things to remember. Because of the thickness of acrylic paint, if you’re planning to paint an item you will wear, you’ll want to prime the clothing. 

You can prime your articles of clothing by mixing your acrylic paint with a fabric medium

Fabric mediums help stop the paint from manipulating the texture of the fabric. The type of fabric you choose reduces the likelihood of stiff and unpleasant clothing. They also prevent the dried acrylic from being more susceptible to cracking while wearing. 

You can also find acrylic paint that is safe for clothing and permanent without a fabric medium. These properties should be clearly stated on the bottle. 

If you’re not sure, sticking with a fabric medium is the safest bet. 


Acrylic art is an excellent hobby for people of all artistic skill levels. If you want to jumpstart your hobby, check out Feeling Nifty Painting. The Acrylic for Beginners ultimate guide will have you making masterpieces for your friends and family in no time. 

Are you feeling a little confused about where to start? 

Jasmine at Feeling Nifty Painting has provided a Free Resource Library. It includes several free resources that are easy to understand and comprehensive. Contents include a guide to paintbrushes and how to thin your paint down. 

If you enjoyed this “How to Stop Acrylic Paint from Washing Off Objects” post, please pin it on Pinterest

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Thursday 5th of October 2023

your help was very clear and helpful thank you

Jasmine Dhillon

Tuesday 9th of January 2024

So glad to hear that Alex- so glad the info helped you :)

Cheers, Jasmine

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