How to Remove Paint from a Carpet

Painting can be a messy endeavor, and spilling paint – especially on your carpets can feel like a permanent stain that can easily ruin the look of your floor covering. Many people believe that there is no relevant way to remove paint from the carpet! Not so. Your best bet to paint removal is to work with the paint while it is still fresh and wet. However, if you have a dried paint stain on your carpet, look for hints at the bottom of this article on that as well.

First step in learning how to remove paint from a carpet is to know what kind of paint stain you are dealing with. Read the label, and see if the paint is water or oil based. It should specifically on the label. Typically water based paint, will require clean-up using soap products and water. With oil-based paints, you will likely have to resort to paint thinners, and/or mineral spirits.

Removing Wet Paint Stains from Carpet

  1. First step is to set up a barrier around the wet paint stain so it will not run. Use paper towels or households rags (that you don’t want to keep) to try and soak up as much of the stain as possible. Dab at the paint stain until you are unable to soak up any more. You may want to use a spatula or putty knife to scrape any excess of the carpet onto the towels.
  2. Once you have soaked up as much as possible, use a spray bottle filled with soapy water and spray the same area to moisten it. Repeat the above procedure until the towels come out clean. Your best choice is to start with dish soap like Dawn – and be sure to blot the stain, rather than rub it deeper into the carpet fibers.
  3. Once you have lifted as much of the stain as possible using soapy water and paper towels, you should use a lacquer paint thinner. You can find these at any home improvement stores or wherever paint is sold. This will help to dissolve the paint color stain in the carpet.
  4. After you apply the paint thinner, you should spray with diluted soapy water once again, and repeat the blotting procedure.
  5. When you can no longer see the paint discoloration from the carpet, mix 10 parts water to one part vinegar. Dip a clean sponge into the mixture and blot the area. This will not only help to remove any remaining paint, but will also pull the soap from the carpet fibers.
  6. The last step before allowing the area to dry, and vacuum is to use cold water on the carpet area to rinse off the vinegar. If you don’t remove the vinegar mixture, you can be left with a yellowish discoloration over time as well as an offensive odor. Once the area dries completely, vacuum thoroughly with the hose on your vacuum system.

If the paint stain doesn’t come clean, or seems to reappear – or is already dry by the time you notice it, you will need to purchase products from the store. These same products will work for oil based paint stains.

Removing Dry or Oil Based Paint Stains from Carpet

The first step to removing oil based or wet paint stains from carpet, is to remove as much of it as possible by hand before using any products. You can scrape the paint from the carpet, or moisten the area slightly and try blotting the paint stain to get the excess up. However, you don’t want to spread the stain – and should take care not to spread it around or deeply embed it into the carpet fibers. Using a toothbrush, a scrape blade, scrubbing tool or even something like pliers to strip the paint off first is optimal.

Also, before using any products, including mineral spirits or Goof-Off, make sure that you test the product on a piece of carpet that won’t be seen. Your carpet may react differently to the product than label specifications – and it can completely bleach out or ruin the carpet fiber if you aren’t careful.

  1. If you have a light colored carpet, use Goof-off to remove the paint. You can easily follow the directions on the packaging. However, this product will not work well on dark colored carpet because it tends to discolor it.
  2. Purchase a solvent for oil based paint removal and gently dab it on the affected area. Make sure NOT to mix the product with excess water, which will damage the backing of your carpet. The solvent should used on a clean dry cloth, blotted on and blotted off with a clean cloth.
  3. Another idea is to use a cheap brand of hairspray on the paint stain. Simply spray the area with the hairspray and rub it with a clean, dry, porous cloth or towel. Make sure to test the hairspray on a conspicuous area first. You can do this many times until the paint stain is completely lifted.
  4. Mineral spirits is another great way to remove dry or oil based stains from carpet. You can find mineral spirits anywhere paint is sold, and should follow the packaging directions. Some brands require it to be mixed with water before use, while others are ready mixed.

If you are working with solvents, mineral spirits, or paint thinners, be sure to wear gloves in order to ensure your own safety.

If worst comes to worst and you cannot remove the stain, the last option is to carefully cut out the area of carpet and replace with a new piece of the same carpet. You can simply glue it down, or even use double-sided duct tape to keep it in place. This works especially well on shag carpets or those with longer threads that will hide the seams more easily.



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