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How to Get Paint Out of Carpet

There are few things more annoying during a decorating project than spilling paint on your carpet. As with most things in life, prevention is better than the cure here, but we realise that if you find yourself on this page, it’s probably too late for all that. Hindsight is a wonderful (and at times, frustrating) thing.

So, you’ve finished painting, the results are great. You’re tidying everything away and find paint spilt on your carpet. Before you panic, or worse, start scrubbing frantically at the stain, we have compiled our top methods for removing paint from carpet.

Whether you’re painting your walls a new colour with emulsion, adding a lick of acrylic paint to your metalwork, or refreshing woodwork with gloss, we know that spillages happen. But this is a no panic zone, so follow our guide below to remove different types of paint from your carpet easily and effectively.

How to Remove Gloss From Your Carpet

Whilst water-based gloss will be easier to remove than an oil-based gloss, it is possible to get a good result when removing an oil-based gloss paint. Here’s how:

What you’ll need:

  • a scraper (or any flat, blunt tool)
  • paper towels or clean cloth
  • white spirit
  • dish soap
  • baking soda (optional)

Step by step process:

  1. Using a scraper (or any thin, flat, blunt tool) remove as much of the paint as possible. Scoop any wet paint onto the scraper, taking care not to spread the paint further. Be sure to wipe the scraper clean between scoops.
  2. With a clean cloth or paper towel, blot the paint until the cloth or paper towel comes away clean.
  3. If your gloss paint is oil-based, apply white spirit to a clean cloth and carefully dab the area. If your paint is water-based gloss, mix a few drops of liquid dish soap with cold water and carefully dab the area. Repeat this process until all the paint has been removed.
  4. Wash the area with dish soap, diluting a few drops into cold water, and apply with a clean cloth or sponge.
  5. Once dry, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto the area. This helps minimise the smell of the white spirit. Leave for 20-30 minutes before vacuuming up the powder.

How to Remove Dried Emulsion From Your Carpet

Hot, soapy water is a staple in any cleaning arsenal and is a great ‘simple but effective’ method for removing emulsion from your carpet.

What you’ll need:

  • Soap
  • Hot water
  • Clean cloth or kitchen towel
  • Butter knife (or any blunt knife)

Step by step process:

  1. Start by diluting your soap (liquid soap is easiest) in hot water. Apply a small amount of soapy water onto the dried paint. Soak a clean cloth in the water and apply to the stain. Do not pour the soap and water solution onto the stain as this could spread the paint, resulting in a bigger stain.
  2. Leave for 10-20 minutes or until the paint has softened.
  3. Soak the kitchen towel in the hot, soapy water and blot the stain.
  4. If the paint is not coming off, add more soapy water and use a butter knife to gently break up the paint. Be careful not to pull any pile in the carpet as you do this. Repeat the last two steps, adding more soapy water as you go, until the kitchen towel comes away clean.
  5. Leave the carpet to dry completely.

How to Remove Wet Emulsion From Your Carpet

As with dry emulsion, a soap and water solution is an effective way to remove wet emulsion from your carpet.

What you’ll need:

  • Scraper (or any flat, blunt tool)
  • Soap
  • Water
  • Clean cloth or kitchen towel

Step by step process:

  1. Using a scraper (or any thin, flat, blunt tool) remove as much of the paint as possible. Scoop any wet paint onto the scraper, taking care not to spread the paint further. Be sure to wipe the scraper clean between scoops.
  2. Dilute your soap in warm water. Soak a clean cloth or kitchen towel in the solution and apply onto the stain. Do not pour the soap and water solution onto the stain as this could spread the paint, leaving you with a bigger stain.
  3. Leave for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Blot the stain with a clean kitchen towel, soaking it in the solution each time, until it no longer picks up any paint.
  5. Leave the carpet to dry completely.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Your Carpet

Acrylic paint can be difficult to remove from carpet, but it’s not impossible. The key is to repeat the process as many times as necessary for a great result.

What you’ll need:

  • Scraper (or any flat, blunt tool)
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Clean cloth and kitchen towel
  • Surgical spirit (rubbing alcohol)
  • Acetone

Step by step process:

  1. Start by gently chipping as much of the paint off as you can with your scraping tool.
  2. Vacuum the area.
  3. Making sure you’re in a well-ventilated area, soak a clean cloth in the surgical spirit and blot the paint.
  4. Leave the cloth on the stain for 15-20 minutes or until the paint has softened.
  5. Using dry kitchen towel, blot the stain.
  6. Repeat the process as many times as necessary.
  7. If your stain remains, apply acetone to another clean cloth and blot.
  8. Leave the cloth on the stain for 2-3 minutes and blot with a dry kitchen towel. Repeat until the kitchen towel no longer picks up any paint and the stain has gone.
  9. Leave the carpet to dry completely.

What Home Remedies Can You Use to Get Paint Out of Your Carpet?

Whilst some paint stains may require specialised tools, chemicals, or even professional cleaning, most spillages can be effectively removed from carpet with things you’ve probably already got around the house.

Soap and water are about as simple as it gets when it comes to cleaning spills of any kind, so it may be surprising that it’s an effective way of removing paint from carpet. Water-based paints like emulsion don’t need harsh chemicals in order to break down, and a simple solution of soap and water works best.

Acrylic paint can be notoriously difficult to remove from carpet, especially once dry, but did you know that nail varnish remover (acetone) helps to dissolve the paint? Apply a small amount to a clean cloth and leave on the paint stain for 2-3 minutes, then dab with a clean, dry cloth or kitchen towel.

Vinegar has long been hailed as a natural way to clean glass, remove grease from worktops, and eliminate odours from laundry, and some swear by it to remove paint stains from carpet too. Dilute a small amount of white vinegar with water, pour into a spray bottle and spray directly onto the paint stain before blotting with a dry cloth.

Removing paint from your carpet requires you to forget all you know about cleaning. Where most tasks encourage elbow grease and lots of scrubbing, this calls for a far more gentle approach. Always dab and blot rather than scrubbing the stain and start with the gentlest method.

How to Prevent Getting Paint On Your Carpets

Unless you can take your painting project outside – fine for furniture, but not so good for walls and ceilings – your only option to prevent getting paint on your carpet is to cover the carpet completely before you start. There are several ways to do this depending on the size and nature of the task.

Dust sheets are the most common way to protect your carpet when carrying out domestic decorating tasks and can be used to cover furniture, as well as carpet.

Cotton twill dust sheets are a popular choice as they are the best quality, washable, come in different sizes and widths (great for covering carpet on stairs), and are available in different weights to suit your project. Some sheets have a waterproof backing, protecting your carpet from even the wettest paint spillages!

Another option are polythene dust sheets. Cheaper than cotton twill, polythene dust sheets are also used to cover carpet and furniture when painting.

You can use a polythene dust sheet under your cotton twill dust sheet for the best protection for your carpet. Be aware, when standing and moving around on polythene dust sheets, that they have a tendency to move around too, and may inadvertently expose some carpet in the process.

Similar to dust sheets, drop cloths are a good option to consider when preparing your area for painting. They are hard wearing, durable, and reusable, and with some made from recycled cotton, make a good eco-friendly choice when protecting your carpet. Waterproof versions are also available.

It is possible that all of the sheeting we’ve talked about so far may move when stood on, leaving parts of the carpet exposed and unprotected.

If this is something you are worried about, you might consider adhesive plastic sheeting to cover your carpet. The plastic sheeting comes on a roll, so it’s easy and convenient to lay.

Adhesive plastic sheeting is a good option if there are lots of people working in one room, as the sheeting won’t move and covers the carpet completely.

If there is a lot of footfall in the area you are painting, or you are painting in a commercial environment, hardboard, blockboard, and chipboard can be laid to cover carpeted areas. The boards are all durable and hardwearing and don’t have a tendency to move like sheeting.