Best Fabric Medium for Acrylic Paint I Tested and Liked

Last Updated on February 25, 2024 by Masha Eretnova

Sometimes fabric paint is too expensive to buy but we still want to customize or upcycle kids’ clothes, jeans, T-shirts.

It is safe choice to turn regular acrylic (even cheap craft one) to fabric paint with a little bit fabric medium – you only need around 1 part fabric medium to 1 or parts acrylic paint and you can use this mix on fabric.

To be completely fair and honest with you – you can use acrylic on fabric without any medium! Results are mostly great but not always. Acrylic by itself is already permanent on fabric but it’s just stiff and may chip off.

That’s why I recommend fabric medium – it will soften the paint and fabric and stay washable and permanent on any fabric!

Let me share my top 7 best fabric medium for acrylic paint choices and share my experience as I customized my first denim shorts in 2019.

What is Fabric Medium?

Fabric medium is a painting medium you use for acrylic paint on fabric to make it stick permanently, stay washable and flexible when you will wear the clothing.

Fabric medium is different from regular acrylic medium, pouring mediums, glazing medium and other mediums you can see in the store.

It only serves the purpose of turning regular acrylic paint in fabric paint. And it works best with acrylic. It doesn’t work for oils.

Read also: How To Paint On Fabric With Acrylic Paint Full Guide & Tips

What are benefits of using fabric medium?

  • Assure that acrylic paint will stay permanently and become washable.
  • Gives better adhesion and flexibility (the painted piece will be nice to wear and soft).
  • Softens the textile.
  • Increases paint flow and make it easy to use.
  • Enhances color pigments (they will stay intact after multiple washes).
  • The paint coverage is even. Without using fabric medium you may notice that some parts will remain shiny and some will be matte even after drying.
  • Avoid crumpled fabric.
  • Makes clothes softer and more comfortable for you to wear.

Why we need Fabric Medium?

Fabric paint is a craft paint formulated to stick permanently and soak through fabric. And we can turn any acrylic paint into fabric paint with a fabric medium.

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Best Fabric Mediums for Acrylic Paint – My Choice

This is a living article – I’m a working artists since 2020 and I am always testing new mediums and updating the content over years to see how durable are some supplies.

best fabric medium for acrylic paint

1) Golden GAC-900

  • price range: 8 oz for around $15
  • requires heat-setting: YES (iron, or dryer, or heat press)
  • suitable for any fabric: YES

Better for heavy-body thick acrylic paint like Golden, Liquitex Professional, Pebeo as it will thin the paint to make it the right consistency for fabric painting.

What I don’t like about GAC900 – stiffens the fabric a bit but at the same time it withstands washing clothes great.

I am a big fan of Golden GAC100 too and I actually thinned acrylic for fabric painting with GAC100 too – it was a success.

Mixing Pebeo acrylics with GAC for painting my t-shirt

2) Liquitex Fabric Medium

  • price range: 4 oz for around $11
  • requires heat-setting: NO
  • suitable for any fabric: YES

One of the best fabric mediums for painting on the majority of fabrics. Keeps colors bright and fabric soft, unless you will make a thicker coat.

The main advantage is that this is almost the only fabric medium that doesn’t require an iron or heat-setting at all – the paint will be permanent and washable simply once they dry.

3) Delta Creative Textile Medium

  • price range: 2 oz for $4.5
  • requires heat-setting: YES
  • suitable for any fabric: yes, but I wouldn’t use for furniture fabric

Simple, water-based textile medium that works with any craft acrylic paint on clothes. Permanent and machine-washable.

Surprisingly, it requires only 20 seconds of heat setting!

My anxious soul would anyway do a bit more, but that is the official brand’s advice.

Best for something you won’t wear close to skin or for decorations as it stiffens tha fabric and can feel uncomfortable on the skin (especially if you’re customizing something for kids, they won’t like it).

4) DecoArt SoSoft Fabric Medium

  • price range: 2 oz – $3
  • requires heat-setting: NO
  • suitable for any fabric: yes

It is soft and flexible but you can still feel it with your skin while wearing. I also like a lot their fabric paint, I used it for back pockets on my denim shorts and heat-set – worked like magic.

Depending on how much you add you can achieve a transparent effects on colors.

This product also works as a primer – once you washed and dried you clothes before painting, you can brush-on DecoArt So Soft fabric medium and it will work like a primer – it will increase paint adhesion and durability.

I was wearing these shorts made with DecoArt for a few years! I then donated them but they were in mint condition!

how to paint fabric with acrylic paint

Read more: How to Seal Acrylic Paint on Denim: 2 Easy Ways

5) FolkArt Textile Medium

  • price range: 8 oz for aorund $14, 2oz – $2.99-5.50
  • requires heat-setting: YES
  • suitable for any fabric: for most fabrics

Amazing choice if you are looking for fabric medium that you won’t even feel wearing your clothes.

Easily mixes with paint in ratio 1 part medium to 2 parts paint. You can use FolkArt paint or any other craft or professional paint.

Note, that FolkArt and Delta Creative are manufactured under the umbrella of the same big brand – Plaid, so the quality is very similar and was proven over decades.

6) Angelus 2-Soft Fabric Medium

  • price range: $8 for 2oz
  • requires heat-setting: YES
  • suitable for any fabric: soft fabrics only
best fabric medium for acrylic paint

Angelus is probably the best specialty brand for leather painting, but they in fact work perfectly on fabric as well.

With 1:1 ratio it keeps the fabric soft, flexible, and the colors vibrant.

The product lines has fabric medium as well – I highly recommend. It is professional level but affordable still – 1 oz is around $4. However, 1 oz is not enough for large projects. 4 oz is still on the pricier side – around $8.

7) DIY Fabric Medium

  • price range: practically free or under $5
  • requires heat-setting: YES, mandatory
  • suitable for any fabric: no

You can make a fabric medium at home, on a budget, and many recipes are very very popular among crafters.

However, It is very hard to attest how consistent are the results. Also, ingredients can be different – for ex., one of the most popular recipe has shaving cream, but all brands are different so it can not be 100% true for all brands.

It is best to test, if possible, as fabric mediums may be not suitable for all fabrics. I would not use it for painting furniture.

On a side note, if you don’t have the ingredients for a DIY recipe at home, like glycerin or shaving cream or aloe, you will still have to buy them and some of them are not really cheap and not cheaper than professional fabric medium, so why risk?

Read also: How To Turn Acrylic Paint Into Fabric Paint – 6 DIY Fabric Medium Recipes

BrandRatio medium to paintHeat-setting requiredPrice
Golden GAC9001:1
can adjust if necessary
yes, 3-5 min8 oz for around $15
Liquitex Fabric Medium1:1 ratio 
5:1 for watercolor effect
no4 oz for $11
Delta Creative Fabric Medium1:2yes, 20 seconds2 oz – $4.5
DecoArt Fabric Mediumno recommended ratio, start with 1:1no2 oz – $2.98*
Folk Art Fabric Medium1:2yes, 3-5 min8 oz for aorund $14, 2oz – $2.99*
Angelus Soft Fabric Medium1:1yes, 3-5 min4 oz – $8
DIY fabric mediumdepends on the recipeyes, 3-5 minfree or under $10
Summary table for best fabric mediums for acrylic paint, their prices and ratios

*prices on official site. On Amazon it is more expensive

How to Use fabric medium With Acrylic Paint?

Mixing acrylic paint with fabric medium is super easy and always there are instructions on the label.

How to do it:

  1. You need: acrylic paint – each color should be mixed individually, fabric medium, palette with wells or little containers, wooden stick to mix.
  2. Determine the mixing ratio: Typically, use a 1:1 or 1:2 ratio of acrylic paint to fabric medium for most projects. For example, mix 1 tablespoon of acrylic paint with 1 tablespoon of fabric medium. But some mediums will have different recommendations, please read the label 🙂
  3. Mix thoroughly: it is crucial to make sure all the paint will be permanent, without blobs or patches.
  4. Test the mixture: Before painting your fabric, test the paint and fabric medium mixture on a scrap piece of fabric to ensure proper adhesion and desired effect. This step is optional.
  5. Apply to fabric: Once satisfied with the mixture, use it to paint your fabric surface evenly. Now you use it just like paint – with a brush or roller. It dries very quickly!
  6. Heat set (optional): To increase durability, let the painted area dry (24 hrs) and heat set the painted fabric according to the fabric medium manufacturer’s instructions. Some brands, like Liquitex, don’t require heat-setting.

Water is not necessary when you mix fabric medium and acrylic paint, because the consistency is already thin enough.

But from experience I know that it is not always true – sometimes you still want to have better flow. In this case just wet the brush, do not add more than 10% water to the mix.


What medium do you use for acrylic paint on fabric?

To use acrylic paint on fabric we use so called fabric medium or textile medium. It helps make the wearable item washable and soft, and keep the paint permanent and cracks-free.

Liquid fabric mediums like Liquitex, DecoArt, Delta Creative or GAC900 help to turn regular acrylics in fabric paint and work on any fabric!

Do you have to use fabric medium with acrylic paint?

It is not mandatory to mix acrylic paint with fabric medium, but for better results – yes, you have to use water-based fabric medium that is specifically made to work with acrylics in ratio 1:1 or 1:2.

Can I use acrylic medium on fabric?

Acrylic medium is not the same as fabric medium and is not suitable for fabrci painting. It will help thinning the paint but it will not make it more washable, permanent or crack-resistant on any fabric.

What are you using as fabric medium? Do you prefer to buy or make?