4 Foolproof Ways to Remove Paint From Carpet

Stay calm - there are a few things you can do if you've spilled paint on your carpet.

Published December 5, 2022
Spilt pink paint on carpet

You followed all the guidelines you found on Google, but that aqua wall color still managed to figure out how to splatter onto your eggshell carpet. It's not the end of the world. You can still get it off if you act fast, because removing wet paint is easier than dry paint. Once you know what type of paint you're dealing with, get a list of supplies and how-to steps for removing paint from carpets.

Identify the Paint in Your Carpet

Did your weekend painting project turn into a tipped-over can? Now, your beige carpet is bearing the brunt of your whimsical blue woes. First things first, you need to look at your can or tube. Why? Because the cleanup for latex and acrylic is different from oil-based paints.

If it's a mystery paint stain, you might not know, so you'll want to test an area. Now, if you painted your wall or trim with said paint, you can try this little hack.

  1. Wash the area.
  2. Wipe with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol.
  3. See if it comes off.
  4. If so, it's acrylic or latex.
  5. If not, it's oil paint.

If you don't have it on your walls, it's a process of elimination. Start with the water-based methods on a small area. If they don't work, switch to the oil-based methods.

Steps to Remove Wet Water-Based Paint From Carpet

Is your acrylic or latex paint stain still wet? You're in luck. Wet stains are easier to remove. The key is to act fast, so the paint doesn't dry. To start, you need:

  • White vinegar
  • Blue Dawn dish soap
  • Paper towels
  • Spray bottle
  • Steam cleaner
  • Sponge
  • Towel

White Vinegar & Dish Soap Method

When it comes to paint, you don't want to spread it any further. So, you'll need to blot and not scrub. This is important.

  1. Use the paper towels to blot up as much wet paint as you can.
  2. Add ¼ cup of white vinegar and one tablespoon of dish soap to the spray bottle.
  3. Fill with water and give it a good shake.
  4. Saturate the paper towel.
  5. Press directly on the stain with a good amount of pressure.
  6. Repeat until the stain is gone.
  7. Sponge the area with water.
  8. Towel dry the area.

Steam Cleaner Method

White vinegar and Dawn are a pretty powerful combo. They can attack most paint spills alone. However, some paint stains are going to give you a little extra headache. For these, you'll want to bust out the steam cleaner.

Steam cleaning the carpet
  1. Follow the instructions on the cleaner.
  2. Go over the area until the stain has vanished.

If you don't have a steam cleaner, you can try hovering an iron with a steam setting over the stain and blotting it with a dry towel. Repeat steaming and drying until you're satisfied.

How to Remove Dry Water-Based Paint From Carpets

In a perfect world, all paint stains would be wet, but sometimes paint drips dry before you realize they're there. Even though you covered your carpet completely with a tarp, it still somehow finds its way into a crease. You still stand a chance of removing the paint with a little patience.

  • Scraper (old credit card, razor, spatula, etc.)
  • Cotton ball
  • Microfiber cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Acetone
  • Dish soap
  • Rock or brick

Rubbing Alcohol

Dry paint is going to give you a bit more trouble. It's already dried into your carpet fibers, but it's not impossible to remove. Just remember to test your cleaners on your carpet fibers first. Rubbing alcohol and acetone can fade and possibly damage some fibers. So, you might have to call in a professional if your test goes awry.

Removing paint stain from carpet
  1. Use a scraper to remove as much of the dried paint as you can.
  2. Add a bit of rubbing alcohol to the cotton ball.
  3. Start blotting from the outside of the stain inward.
  4. Continue until all the stain is gone, using clean cotton balls as needed.
  5. For stubborn stains, try a bit of acetone. (Acetone can damage some carpets, so test first.)
  6. Mix the dish soap and water to wash the area thoroughly.
  7. Rinse the area with a damp cloth.
  8. Place a dry cloth over the area to absorb any remaining water.
  9. Add a stone to hold it in place.

How to Remove Oil-Based Paint From Carpets

Is your stain oil-based? Then cleaning both wet and dry paint spills is pretty much the same.

Oil-based stains are more difficult to remove, just like how butter stains are harder to get out of clothes. But that doesn't mean it's impossible if you pull out the chemicals to thin the oil paint.

  • Scraper (old credit card, razor, spatula, etc.)
  • Paper towels
  • Paint thinner or mineral spirits
  • Cotton balls
  • Dish soap
  • Old cloths
  • Rock or brick
  • Carpet cleaner

Instructions to Remove Oil-Based Paint

One good thing about oil paint is it takes forever to dry. But getting it out of your carpet is going to be a slow and steady process. So, be ready to play the long game here.

Spilled Paint on Carpet

Additionally, paint thinner and mineral spirits are harsh chemicals. Test your carpet first in a small, inconspicuous area. You also want to try to only apply the product to the paint to avoid hurting your fibers.

  1. Use a paper towel (wet) or scraper (dry) to remove as much paint as possible.
  2. Carpet clean the area to get it good and saturated.
  3. Apply a small amount of your cleaner to a cotton ball.
  4. Dab the outer edges of the stain, working your way in.
  5. Repeat until most of the stain is gone.
  6. Mix equal parts dish soap and hot water.
  7. Apply it to the stain.
  8. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Carpet clean the area again.
  10. Place a clean, dry towel over the area.
  11. Put a rock or brick on it to soak up the moisture and any remaining paint.
  12. Vacuum once dry.

Safety Tips When Removing Paint From Carpet

Safety is important, especially if you are using paint thinner and mineral spirits in your home. Therefore, you want to make sure to take safety precautions when cleaning up spilled paint.

  • Wear old clothes.
  • Use protection like rubber gloves.
  • Open windows to ventilate the area.
  • Add a fan to blow fumes out the window.

Tips and Tricks for How to Avoid Paint Spills on Carpet

Paint likes to fly. There is no way around it when you're painting. If it can get somewhere, it will. So, you should be prepared for the worst before it happens.

  • Use tarps and plastic sheets to cover any areas that could possibly get paint on them.
  • Take care to set up your station to avoid knocked-over cans.
  • Don't load up your brush (paint splatters more on a loaded brush).
  • Keep pets and children out of the painting area (tails and feet are good for creating mishaps).
  • Add Scotchgard to the carpet.
  • Have cleaners on hand for accidents (wet paint is easier to clean up).

How to Clean Paint From Carpets

Despite your best efforts, paint has a way of sneaking where it doesn't belong. Being prepared helps you in the long run. So, once you know what type of paint you are dealing with, all you have to do is grab the supplies.

4 Foolproof Ways to Remove Paint From Carpet