Do Paintballs Stain Clothes?

Do Paintballs Stain Clothes?

For most players, the last thing they’re thinking about in the middle of a paintball firefight is whether or not those paintballs are going to ruin their clothing. However, once they get done with a hard day on the paintball field, they’ll realize just how dirty your clothes have gotten. New players especially often wonder… Do paintballs stain clothes? To answer this question we’ve put together a list of things to consider when playing paintball.

What Are Paintball Made Of?

Paintballs are made of dyed gelatin with a hard outer shell to keep the paint inside of the paintball. The gelatin and the dyes have varying degrees of water solubility meaning that they come out when washed with water soap and water in a washing machine. Since most paintballs are water soluble, they will not stain clothes.

However, not all paintballs are made equal. Some paint is made with high quality ingredients that are easy to wash out but there’s a lot of paint made with inferior coloring and ingredients which actually makes the paintballs more painful and less likely to break. Unfortunately you can’t control the type of paint that other players put in their guns especially when price is the deciding factor. The highest quality paintballs are brittle since they break more easily on impact; these paintballs are also made with higher quality ingredients.

Regardless of the quality, paintballs are biodegradable and are generally made with some mixture of water, glycerine, sorbitol, and polyethylene glycol. However the different dyes have their own chemical composition which depend on the companies that make them.

What Are Your Clothes Made Of?

In addition to lighter colored clothing, the materials your clothes are made of can influence staining severity. Synthetic fibers are less likely to stain because they aren’t as absorbent as other materials like cotton. This is why many paintball companies make clothing out of synthetic fibers like polyester mixed with elastic. 

In addition to the material your clothing is made of, you should also consider what color it is. First, lighter colored shirts are more likely to have mild staining and discoloration after getting hit. This is to be expected and with advanced knowledge, you can use appropriate attire to avoid staining. Dark clothing is ideal to help prevent staining.

Another thing to consider is the amount of time that passes before washing your clothes. Paintballs were made water soluble to avoid staining, however, if you don’t wash your clothes within a few hours of coming off the field, it is more likely that your clothing will stain. If you play in light-toned clothing and then let it sit for a few days after playing, your clothes will almost certainly have stains.

How to Remove Paintball Stains

Removing paintball stains isn’t difficult if you know what to do and what to look for:

  1. Act quickly: As soon as you’re done playing paintball, remove your clothes. You may even want to consider bringing a change of clothes to the field to avoid getting your car dirty too. Paintball stains that are caught early are much easier to remove than those that have had time to set into the fabric.

  2. Rinse with cold water: Once you’re home or at a place where you can wash, begin by rinsing the stained area with cold water. This helps to loosen the dye from the fabric so that it doesn’t stick there. Avoid using hot water, as it can cause the stain to set further into the material.

  3. Use a stain remover: Apply a pre-treatment stain remover or laundry detergent directly to the stain and gently rub it into the fabric. Allow the stain remover to sit for at least 15 minutes to help break down the dye.

  4. Wash in cold water: Wash the clothing in cold water with a mild detergent, following the care instructions. If possible, add a color-safe bleach to the washing cycle to help lift the stain further.

  5. Check before drying: After washing, examine the clothing for any remaining traces of the stain. If the stain persists, repeat steps 2 through 4. Avoid placing the garment in the dryer until the stain is entirely removed, as the heat can set the stain permanently into the fabric.

  6. Dry according to care instructions: Once you've successfully removed the stain, dry the clothing following the manufacturer's care instructions. Air-drying is generally the safest method, as it helps to avoid potential heat damage from the dryer.

Why Paintball May Ruin Your Clothes

Paintball may not stain your clothes because of the paint rather because all the diving and sliding may ruin your clothes. While this can happen in speedball, clothing damage is most frequent in woodsball. Players can get muddy, dirty, wet and more in woodsball. There are also more ways to rip and tear clothing on stray branches or bunker corners in woodsball. Speedball, because of all the sliding, can also cause wear and tear with clothing. Grass stains and turf burns are more likely in speedball than paint stains are. However, because of the high likelihood that your clothing may get stained or damaged, we recommend playing paintball in older clothes that you’re okay with losing or damaging.

What To Wear For Paintball

For players who are merely renting equipment and playing for an afternoon once or twice a year, we recommend wearing old clothing when playing paintball. However, if you plan on playing paintball more frequently, it’s best to invest in some real protective paintball equipment and gear. The best gear is made with breathable fabric to help wick sweat away and keep the paintballs from staining. Good paintball gear also provides padding in all of the right areas to help protect you from the impact of shots and diving. Carbon protective gear as well as HK Army Protective gear are excellent brands to begin with.


At the end of the day, paintballs will likely not stain your clothing. However you shouldn’t wear clothes that you care about to go play paintball. In fact, many professional players purchase their own clothing, uniforms, and protective equipment so they don’t have to worry about ruining their clothes. To help players find the right clothing for the type of game they’re playing Lone Wolf Paintball has put together the best collection of paintball clothes, paintball gear, and protective equipment. For more information or to find a complete selection of our paintball equipment for sale, visit our online store.