There’s no doubt that things can get messy when you’re playing paintball.
Pellets flying everywhere, bursting on impact, covering the target in sticky, colorful goo.
Not to mention players diving in the undergrowth, leaning for cover against buildings, hiding in muddy foxholes…
Whoever does the laundry is going to have a meltdown!
But does paintball paint wash out?
Don’t get yourself in a spin – here are some pro-tips for coming clean at the end of your games.
Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases if you shop through the links on RiflePal. For more information, read full disclosure here.
- Does Paintball Paint Wash Out? A Quick Answer!
- What are Paintballs Made of?
- What to Wear for Paintball
- How to Wash Paintball Clothing
- Cleaning Your Marker and Other Gear
Does Paintball Paint Wash Out? A Quick Answer!
Before we take an in-depth look at paintballs – specifically their interaction with fabrics and clothing – let’s drop the short answer in here for anyone in a rush.
Yes, paintball paint does wash out of clothes – but it can depend on the quality of paint, how long it’s left on there, and the wash cycle/routine you use.
For more information, keep reading, and discover the best way to remove paintball stains from your gear…
…And the side of your house – if need be.
What are Paintballs Made of?
In order to understand a stain, one must BECOME the stain. Or something. Perhaps I need to work on my laundry mantra.
Seriously though, for removing any stubborn marks in clothing or fabric, it’s important to know exactly what it is, so you can go to war with it effectively. Know thy enemy, so to speak.
Paintballs are made from a polyether compound called polyethylene glycol. They also have other ingredients, such as gelatin, glycerol, (which is why they taste sweet*), vegetable oil, and water.
It’s basically the same kind of stuff that goes in gummy bears, although many paintball companies stop short of revealing their exact ingredients and process.
A non-toxic dye is used to give them their color – which isn’t necessarily the same inside as it is on the hard, but brittle outer shell. It’s often thickened with crayon wax or some other such substance.
Some paintballs have cornstarch and metallic flakes inside to make them more obvious to see on any background after a hit.
Either way, paintballs are made from non-toxic, biodegradable, food-grade, water-soluble ingredients.
And the keywords there are “water” and “soluble.” This basically means – you can wash out paintballs.
Keep reading to find out how.
*Disclaimer – Riflepal does not condone eating paintballs. That was just an occurrence early in my paintball career when a ball shattered on my mask and a bit leaked through into my mouth.
(Which is a great advertisement for wearing the best paintball mask you can buy, and never leaving those candy-looking paintballs anywhere near young children.)
How Paintballs are Made
I’m not, for one second, going to claim to know how paintballs are made.
I only play the sport, I’m not a scientific/engineering/chemical genius behind it.
But I thought it useful, educational, and possibly entertaining to include the following video, which will show you what goes on at the paintball-making factory.
Now that’s the kind of fascinating content to watch at three in the morning when you should be asleep.
Choosing the Right Paintballs
Aside from using the right cleaning methods (which we’re coming to, I promise), it’s important that good paintballs are used for your games.
Inferior, cheap paint is going to cause you all kinds of problems. It can ruin the performance of your gun, break easily and block the barrel, and things like accuracy and range can take a nosedive.
Not to mention the possibility of it badly staining your clothing.
Most decent fields should already supply high-quality paintball ammo, so this decision is often taken out of your hands.
But if you’re playing private games, or for whatever other reason, you need to purchase paintball ammo – just make sure you get the good stuff.
Be sure to store paintballs correctly, as sunlight and temperature can seriously deteriorate their quality and performance, which in turn might well create more stubborn stains on your clothes.
Paintballs have a shelf life, and you should be sure to use them before their time is up – because old paint might also create a problem when it comes into contact with fabrics and other materials.
Take a look at this article on the different types of paintball ammo for more information on what goes into your hoppers.
What to Wear for Paintball
One of the first things you need to realize before playing paintball – is that things are going to get messy.
This is why you shouldn’t be wearing your best pants and hoodie to play.
Some fields provide overalls so you can protect your regular clothes. For my first paintball game, I was wearing a green boiler suit that was far too big for me.
If that option isn’t available, or if you’d prefer to wear your own gear, be sure to choose old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty and covered in paint.
For more information, take a look at this article on what to wear for paintball.
But if you’re ready to purchase apparel you’re only going to wear for the sport, try this review on the best tactical jackets.
For the fairer sex, check out these awesome tactical pants for women, or maybe you’d prefer these cool paintball pants, instead?
The real trick is by wearing dedicated paintball clothes, you shouldn’t really be too concerned if the paint is going to come out or not.
Furthermore, if you’re good at the sport, the best way to avoid having to wash the paint out is to not get hit in the first place!
Check out this article on the best paintball tips for beginners – which will significantly improve your odds of coming out clean on the other side.
How to Wash Paintball Clothing
Now that we’ve covered all the bases on paint, paintballs, and what to wear for the sport, let’s get down to what you came for.
How to best wash paintball-stained clothing.
It’s not rocket science, really, just follow the steps below.
The best time to wash your paintball clothes is as soon as you return home from the field. Don’t throw them on the floor to stink and fester – get into the cleaning routine immediately.
Make sure to open everything out – unfold sleeves and pants, undo Velcro straps, and fastenings, untie bandanas and headbands. Nothing should be scrunched up to prevent it from cleaning properly.
Pre-treat the clothing with a stain remover. This can be a simple rub-on pen or applicator, or you might want to do a pre-wash soak by leaving your clothes in a water and stain-remover mix for up to an hour.
You might be able to skip this step, but if the paint and filth have been on the clothes for a long time, then it will have had the chance to work into the fabric and become harder to remove as a result.
Some players prefer to give their clothes a hose down with a pressure-washer or garden hose on the jet-setting. This can be helpful for blasting away caked-on filth, but just be careful you don’t damage the fabric at the same time.
I highly recommend this step for dried-in paint or any stains that have been sitting there for longer than 24 hours.
This is especially useful if there are remnants of hard shells stuck to your clothes. Although they will degrade in water, it’s best not to risk putting a lot of that in your machine.
Next, stick your paintball clothing on a wash cycle in accordance with the clothing label. The higher the temperature – the better, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s wash guidelines for each garment.
When in doubt, just use a delicate cycle – it should still be capable of removing most of the dirt and stains. Use a color-safe detergent, but a fabric softener should be avoided.
Be sure that the only clothes going into the machine is your paintball gear – unless you want to run the risk of destroying your best pants.
Once the cycle is complete, I highly recommend skipping the tumble drier and using the awesome power of nature.
Hang your gear out to air dry, and not only will you be helping the planet, saving energy, and keeping costs down, your gear won’t get damaged from excess heat in the drum.
An outside line is ideal in summer, but if that’s not possible – or weather doesn’t permit – use a clothes horse or other drying rack somewhere in the house.
So long as you adhere to washing and instructions labels – both for clothes and cleaning products – you shouldn’t go far wrong.
Cleaning Your Marker and Other Gear
It’s not just your clothes that you need to worry about when it comes to cleaning up after a paintball match – your gun and mask will likely need a bit of TLC, too.
And it’s important to get this right for both – as poor cleaning practice can be just as damaging as not cleaning at all (if not more so).
The video below will show you how to clean your paintball marker the right way. Following these steps will ensure it continues to perform correctly and improves the overall lifespan of the gun.
For the mask, make sure you don’t use anything too harsh – such as strong chemicals and cleaners. Even a paper towel might scratch and damage the lenses, so stick with a soft, lint-free cloth instead.
Special care must be taken when cleaning the goggles of a paintball mask – particularly of the dual-pane variety.
Don’t just cover it in water and wipe it off – you’re guaranteed to get moisture between the lenses, and ruin the anti-fog technology.
The video below will give you a visual guide on how to properly clean your paintball mask.
To remove paintball paint from shoes, give them a scrub with a brush, and warm, soapy water with a mild detergent. Don’t forget to air dry them afterward.
For other gear, such as pads, chest rigs, and tactical gloves, you can most likely add them to the delicate wash cycle, and then make sure you air dry everything when done.
Does paintball paint stain?
Yes, it does. It’s designed to be difficult to rub off to limit cheating during the game.
Having said that, the technology has developed sufficiently that it’s not as bad as it was, and with the right method and practice, you should be able to remove these water-soluble stains with little problem.
Will my clothes get ruined at paintball?
Yes, quite possibly – but the paint might actually be the least of your worries.
Running, diving, jumping, and generally careering through the undergrowth and around the terrain will take their toll on whatever you’re wearing.
This is why you need to make sure you’re wearing gear that you don’t mind getting spoiled, and/or that is designed for playing combat sports in the first place.
Will paintballs dissolve in water?
Yes, they do. Paintballs are biodegradable and water-soluble, and they will start to spoil over time. They have a shelf-life, and you should never use paint that has expired.
Drop one in a glass of H20 and see what happens.
How do you get paintball paint off a house?
So, some little rascal has splattered the outside of your property with paintball paint, and your first reaction is to be out for blood.
But fear not, because paintball paint isn’t like “real paint,” and while it might look bad, it’s not going to take much to remove it.
A simple solution of warm water and detergent will do the trick, with a bit of elbow grease with a stiff-bristled brush until the stain has gone.
I suggest getting whoever fired the shot to do the work.
So does paintball paint wash out?
I think we’ve firmly answered that question in the positive.
But there are obviously steps you can take to ensure the process is a little easier on you, your clothes, and the environment.
Let me know your experience on washing paintball gear, and/or if I’ve missed any key points from the article – particularly if it’s a top-tip the community doesn’t know about yet!
Stay safe out there, stay clean, and happy paintballing!