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Paint stains can be difficult to remove from carpet, but cleaning experts say it’s possible. You can easily remove acrylic, latex, and oil-based paint from carpets using these tricks and tips.
It just dawned on you that, in addition to painting all over your clothes, your formerly pristine carpet looks like a failed art project. Now you have to figure out how to remove paint from the carpet fast.
In most cases, people believe there’s no turning back once a speck of paint touches a carpet, but that isn’t the case, says Melissa Rodriguez, founder of Bright Home Cleaning SVCS. You don’t have to panic if you want to get paint out of the carpet. If you want to remove carpet stains, you just need to take action.
Choosing the right approach for getting paint out of the carpet depends on the type of paint spilled. Jennifer Ahoni, the senior scientist at Tide, explains that different types of paint contain different ingredients that are designed to adhere to surfaces differently.
Depending on how water-soluble they are (water-based, acrylic paints are more water-soluble wet than oil-based), the products you may need to remove them may also vary. Let’s dive into how to remove such stains.
Table of Contents
Before you clean up the paint spill
The following questions might cross your mind as well as how to get paint out of the carpet:
- What is the permanence of paint stains?
- What is the best way to remove dried paint from the carpet?
- What is the best way to remove oil-based paint from the carpet?
- Can homemade carpet cleaners remove paint from carpets?
- Is it possible to remove paint from the carpet with nail polish remover?
We asked cleaning pros Rodriguez and Ahoni to walk us through how to remove stubborn stains from carpets. Here’s what you need to do before you start cleaning.
Consider these two things before you begin cleaning up the paint spill:
- What type of paint got on your carpet, and how did it get there?
- If your carpet is still wet with paint.
First, check the paint’s label to see if it’s oil-based or water-based. According to Rodriguez, stain levels and treatment depend largely on the paint’s main ingredients.
Check to see if the paint is still wet or if it has dried onto the carpet. When stains are still wet, you have a better chance of removing them, Ahoni says. You should try to remove paint wet since it is designed in most cases to be a semi-permanent/permanent color treatment once it has dried.
If you want to learn how to get paint out of carpet, there’s one thing you can do right away: “Grab a spoon or dull knife, and scrape off as much paint as possible without spreading the stain,” Ahoni advises.
As long as you act swiftly, water-based paint spills are typically easier to clean than oil-based paints, so if you spilled water-based paint on your carpet, you’re in luck. When wet, many paints are water-soluble, so you can use water-based cleaning solutions, but when dry, they become water-resistant, so you need a specific cleaner or thinner to remove them.
How to get acrylic paint out of carpet
- The secret to getting acrylic paint out of carpet is to act fast when it is fresh or wet! With a damp microfiber cloth or sponge, wipe away as much of the wet acrylic paint as possible. Using heavy pressure or rubbing back and forth can cause the stain to spread and further damage the carpet, Rodriguez warns.
When removing dried acrylic paint stains from carpet, Rodriguez recommends scraping it off with a razor if it is already dry. Ahoni suggests using rubbing alcohol and a microfiber cloth to loosen the remaining dried paint. It is best to test the color-fastness of the carpet on a less visible area first. Are you still having trouble? In a last resort, Rodriguez suggests blotting with acetone, but beware — it can severely damage fibers containing acetate, triacetate, and modacrylic. Stick to rubbing alcohol if you see any of those materials listed or are unsure.
- Clean the area with a homemade cleaning solution if rubbing alcohol didn’t remove both wet paint spills and any leftover dried paint. With a microfiber cloth or sponge, dab an equal amount of dish soap or detergent onto the stain while trying to blot away any remaining paint. How to remove acrylic paint from carpet: Work from the outside edges, moving toward the center, to avoid spreading the paint. “You can pour detergent directly onto stubborn paint stains before blotting them up with a wet sponge or towel,” Ahoni advises.
- Place a dry towel over the wet area once the stain has been removed. “Weigh it down so it can absorb the remaining moisture,” Ahoni advises.
How to get latex paint out of carpet
- For fresh or wet latex paint stains on carpet: “Latex paint can be easily removed when still wet,” Rodriguez says. Acting quickly is the key to removing latex paint from carpet. Using a slightly damp microfiber cloth or sponge, gently blot away as much of the wet latex paint as possible. You can also use paper towels in a pinch. Blotting should be done with caution-you don’t want to accidentally push the paint deeper into the carpet.
- You can remove dried latex paint stains from carpet with a razor or dull knife if the paint is already dry by the time you spot it. After rubbing alcohol or acetone has been used to loosen dried paint, proceed with caution: “Always determine your carpet’s content before you attempt to remove any stains with acetone; acetone will break down and destroy fabric containing acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic,” Ahoni warns. Stick with rubbing alcohol if you’re unsure.
- For both wet and dried paint spills, use a homemade cleaning mixture to thoroughly clean the area. Mix dish soap or detergent with hot water and dab the mixture onto the paint with a microfiber cloth or sponge. Work your way inward from the stain’s outer edges.
- Cover the area with a towel and weigh it down so it soaks up any excess moisture once the stain has been removed.
Because oil-based paints don’t dissolve easily in water, Ahoni says, oil-based paints are more difficult to remove than water-based ones. In contrast to water-based paint, which dries quickly and stains more easily, oil-based paint has a thicker consistency and therefore takes longer to dry, so you have a longer window of time to clean the spill while it’s still wet. If you want to get oil-based paint out of carpet, you will need paint thinner once it has dried.
How to get oil-based paint out of carpet
- Using a cloth or paper towel, blot up fresh or wet oil-based paint stains on carpet. Rinse the area to prevent it from drying. To remove oil-based paint, you’ll need paint thinner once it’s dried.
Ahoni advises treating dried oil-based paint stains on carpet with a cloth treated with paint thinner recommended by the paint manufacturer to help remove as much stain as possible.
- If the stain persists, dab a microfiber cloth or sponge with a 1:1 ratio of dish soap or detergent and hot water. The outer edges of the stain should be cleaned first, then the center. Pour a small amount of liquid detergent directly onto a particularly stubborn stain and let it sit for a few minutes before blotting it up.
- After removing the stain, lay a clean towel over the area and weigh it down with books or something heavy to draw out any remaining moisture.
To prevent paint stains on your carpet in the future, Rodriguez recommends applying Scotchgard Water Shield. “It prevents carpets, rugs, and fabrics from absorbing wet stains,” she explains. This is a lifesaver!
Additionally, both experts recommend that you make tarps or drop cloths your best friends the moment you pull out any painting tools. It’s best to tarp the entire room rather than a small area when painting, Ahoni says, adding that you should secure the drop cloth to the carpet using tape or weights to prevent it from slipping.
Leaving potentially messy situations-like your kids’ art projects-to non-carpeted areas is a great idea too. Paint specks can travel far, so it’s better to tarp the entire room rather than one small area. Parents will also want to know how to remove ink stains from clothes for their children.