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How to Get Paint Out of Carpets in 4 Easy Steps!

pink paint spilled on cream colored carpet with brush

Perhaps your children accidentally smeared paint all over the carpet, or, you might have been painting the walls and accidentally made a bit of a mess. Even if you try your hardest to protect your floors with plastic or newspapers, some are bound to soak through eventually. It’s far too easy to end up with paint where you don’t want the paint to be.

Truthfully, cleaning up paint is a matter of using the right tools to clean up the stain before it dries. After the paint dries, it is practically impossible to clean it up effectively. Therefore, speed is vital in this regard. Otherwise, you may have to call a professional.

However, cleaning paint off a carpet is largely dependent on the type of paint you’re using. What the paint is made from will affect the tools you need to clean it up. We’ll discuss all of this below so you can clean up the paint as effectively as possible.

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Before You Start

Before you begin to scrub away your carpet, there are several things you need to do first. Don’t skip this part, as it’s essential to the success of you’re cleaning job.

First, you’ll need to figure out what sort of paint you’re using. Different paints need to be cleaned differently. So, choosing the best tools for cleaning up your paint is vital. There are several different types of paint out there. For larger projects, most people use water-based paints. These are also called latex paints and are typically used on walls.

However, oil-based paints are fairly common as well. You can find them on doors and windows for this reason. Many smaller projects use oil-based paints too.

You can check the label to figure out what type of paint you’re working with. We highly recommend figuring out the paint you’re working with before you even start painting so that you have the information available when you need it—like when you need to clean up a stain on your carpet!

Secondly, many products described as “paint cleaners” are very damaging for carpets. Anything that contains alcohol, acetone, turpentine, and paint thinner can also discolor your carpet or even damage it further. Therefore, it is often best not to use these substances directly on your carpet.

If you do need to use one of these products, use as little of the product as you can and be sure to spot test somewhere inconspicuous to ensure that it isn’t going to damage your carpet.

1. Remove Excess Paint

No matter what type of paint you have, you’ll need to carefully remove any excess paint on top before you begin. You don’t want to smear more paint into the carpet, which will happen if you just leave excess paint sitting on top. Plus, by removing as much paint as possible, you lower the amount of paint the cleaners have to work on.

Be sure to remove any excess pain gently. We recommend using a spoon or knife. You don’t want to scrub or press so hard that you push the paint deeper into the carpet, where it will be harder to find.

As you might imagine, this step is much easier on wet paint. Be careful not to pull up dried paint and damage the carpet underneath. You can use a steamer to rehydrate dried paint, which may help you remove it. You can also use hot water if a steamer is unavailable. The water will help the paint soften.

Removing Water-Based Paint

Now that you’ve removed the excess paint from the top, here are the other steps you should follow for water-based paints.

2. Add Soap and Water

person wearing blue hand gloves cleaning the carpet
Image Credit: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

Firstly, you’ll want to add a solution of half water and half dish soap to the spot. Gently blot with a clean cloth to help remove any paint that the soapy water has broken free. Do not scrub, as this will only push the paint into your carpet’s fibers and make it more difficult to remove.

Rotate out your cloth for a new one as necessary. We recommend starting in the center and working out towards the outside, as this will prevent the inside from accumulating more and more water as you press around it.

Be careful not to leave excess moisture on your carpet.

3. Use alcohol

If any paint remains, you’ll need to take an alcohol-based cleaner to the spot. Nail polish remover and rubbing alcohol works best. Put the solution on a clean cloth and then blot it on the spots where there’s still paint. The alcohol should help loosen any remaining paint.

4. Rinse

female hands with rag on carpet
Image By: Pixel-Shot, Shutterstock

After cleaning, rinse the area by blotting it with a wet cloth. Then, use a dry cloth to remove as much of the moisture from the area as possible. You do not want to leave your carpet wet.

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Removing Oil-Based Paint

If you have oil-based paint on your carpet, then the process to remove it is a bit more complicated. Here are the steps you should take after removing all the excess paint:

2. Use turpentine

The only way to easily remove oil-based paint from a carpet is to use turpentine or another paint thinner. You’ll want to add the paint thinner to a cloth and then gently blot the paint—do not scrub.

3. Clean with Soap and Water

person wearing blue gloves cleaning the carpet
Image By: Andrey_Popov, Shutterstock

Next, you’ll want to clean the area with a 1:1 mixture of dish soap and water. You don’t want to leave any paint thinner on your carpet, and this step will also help you remove any excess paint from the area as well, especially if the thinner has already helped wear the paint down.

4. Rinse

spraying carpet cleaner on the carpet
Image By: Syda Productions, Shutterstock

Now that the area is clean, you’ll need to rinse to remove any chemicals and paint that have stayed behind. Take a wet towel and slowly blot the area to gently soak it. Then, use a dry towel to remove as much moisture as possible.

Your goal is to remove as much of the soap and paint thinner as you can, as well as dry the carpet without agitating it.

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Removing paint from the carpet is no joke. You’d be surprised by the amount of trouble you can get into by trying to clean such a simple stain. Often, you may be able to get most of it out if you act quickly. Dried paint is far more difficult to clean completely and often requires professional help.

We recommend having everything you need for cleaning nearby, as this helps you clean the stain up as soon as it happens. If you have to stop and then come back to clean the stain, the stain may dry by the time you gather all your supplies.

We hope that our steps above helped you clean the paint from your carpet. If the color is particularly bright, you may have to call a professional despite your best efforts.

Featured Image Credit: travellight, Shutterstock


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