How To Tell if Your Acrylic Paint is Moldy?

How To Tell if Your Acrylic Paint Is Moldy

Here are some ways to tell if your acrylic paint is moldy:

  1. Odd-colored film around the top layer.
  2. An unpleasant odor may indicate mold.
  3. Change in the paint’s consistency.
  4. The paint doesn’t work as well as it used to.
  5. Mold around the paint container.

Making the most out of your acrylic paint is good for your pocket and the environment. However, you may be worried that it may have gone bad and developed mold, which means you may need to throw it away. But How To Tell if Your Acrylic Paint is Moldy?

Introduction to How To Tell if Your Acrylic Paint is Moldy?

Before throwing your acrylic paint away, you should make sure that it is in fact moldy. It’s generally easy to tell whether the paint is moldy or not, so it shouldn’t be too challenging to figure it out. 

Below are the 5 biggest indicators of moldy acrylic paint.

Odd-Colored Film Around Top Layer

One of the most significant signs of moldy acrylic paint is an odd-colored film on the paint’s top layer. This layer of mold is usually easier to spot in lighter colors, but it can grow on any paint color. You’ll need to examine darker colors more closely if you’re trying to locate mold.

Generally, the mold you’ll see on acrylic paint will sport a green or yellow color and may even look slightly hairy. If you notice this, you should dispose of the paint because the mold will likely affect the paint’s performance. Besides, it’s not healthyOpens in a new tab. to breathe in mold.

You may be tempted to remove the top layer of mold and continue using the rest of the paint, but this isn’t a good idea. Mold fungi grow exceptionally quicklyOpens in a new tab., so it’s likely that by the time you’ve caught the mold, it’s already spread throughout the whole paint container.

To prevent acrylic paint from becoming moldy in future, ensure to keep it away from too much heat and moisture. Storing it sealed in a cool, dry place will ensure that mold can’t grow as quickly on it.

An Unpleasant Odor May Indicate Mold

Another sign that your acrylic paint could be moldy is an unpleasant odor. Generally, acrylic paint shouldn’t have any smell (or only a slight odor), so anything strong or pungent indicates that it’s gone badOpens in a new tab..

Using paint with an unpleasant odor on a canvas might make the painting smell bad, and you certainly don’t want that to happen!

However, an unpleasant odor doesn’t necessarily mean that the paint has mold. It just means it’s more likely, and it certainly means that the paint is no longer usable. If you notice a strong odor coming from your acrylic paint, it’s best to avoid using it.

It may seem wasteful to throw it away, but foul-smelling and possibly moldy paint won’t work as well as fresh paint. The best way to prevent wasting acrylic paint in the future is to keep it sealed and away from contaminated water and humidity.

Change in the Paint’s Consistency

A change in the consistency of the acrylic paint could be another indication of mold. For example, if it appears to be thicker than usual or doesn’t squeeze out of the container as easily, this is a sign that it’s gone off (therefore possibly moldy, too).

If you leave your acrylic paint sitting out for too long while exposed to air and other elements, it’s more likely to dry out and change consistency. Once this happens, you won’t be able to get it back to how it used to be. For a more specific example, we wrote an article on Can You Leave an Acrylic Painting in a Hot Car?Opens in a new tab.

So again, it’s important to reiterate that you should always keep your acrylic paint sealed tight to avoid exposure to air.

Another thing that can happen to exposed paint is the paint may begin to separate. Luckily, this doesn’t indicate mold in most cases, but it does mean the paint has been sitting around for too long. To try and fix it, you can mix the paint back together. 

Generally, this should work, and you should have no problems using it in the future!

The Paint Doesn’t Work As Well as It Used To

You may have used your acrylic paint many times before and had no issues. But now, maybe it doesn’t seem to be working as well. This doesn’t mean you should worry that your paint skills have vanished. Most likely, it’s because the paint has simply gone bad!

If you notice that your paint is coming out too watery or thick and is generally difficult to work with, it may be time to throw it away. However, try to mix it before discarding it, as this can sometimes fix the issue.

But if mixing the paint doesn’t fix it, or if you notice a foul odor or change in color, there’s a likelihood of mold growing on it. In this case, you should avoid using it.

Mold Around the Paint Container

An indication that there is mold growing on your acrylic paint is if there is mold growing around the container. It would be best if you examined the container, looking for any green mold. There could also be some hairs growing from the container.

The best place to look is the opening, as this is where there is the most amount of contact with the paint. The paint may also have a foul odor, in which case you shouldn’t use it anymore. 

Unfortunately, mold spores are everywhereOpens in a new tab.. This is why it’s essential to store your acrylic paint in the most appropriate way possible, where mold is least likely to grow. Since mold grows so rapidly, the paint is likely contaminated if you notice mold around the container.

Michele ThebergeOpens in a new tab.

Final Words

It’s normal for acrylic paint to get moldy after a while, and there are several ways to spot it. These include a green or yellow colored film on the paint, a change in consistency, and mold around the paint container.

If you suspect your acrylic paint is moldy, it’s best to dispose of it as it likely won’t work as well and could also be a health hazard. To avoid wasting acrylic paint in the future, be sure to store it in a cool, dry place away from moisture and water.


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Caraca's self-taught artist based in the UK, Ines explores unconventional materials and sustainability.

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