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How to Remove Paint From Carpet

How to Remove Paint From Carpet

Paint on carpets is a nightmare. As Carpets are made up of fibers, you cannot drench them in water as moisture creates moldings and mildew.

So how to remove paint from carpet? The removal process will depend heavily on the type of paint spilled, but the general go-to method is blotting the stained area with a solution of warm water and mild detergent soap

Tougher stains may require various carpet cleaning solutionssteaming the area to soften up the paint spill, or even calling professional carpet cleaners. 

Please note it may require multiple applications. Do not expect paint spills to go away in one cleaning session.

Does the Type of Paint Affect the Removal Process?

There are various divisions of paint types with many subdivisions, but here is what you should know. The paint spilled is either water-based, chemical-based, or oil-based paint.

Paint colors are made with a binder, solvent, pigment, and additives. The solvent used is the focus of cleaning paint stains on the carpet.

Water-based paint & spray paints like latex, chalkboard paint, emulsion, and watercolor are the easiest to remove.

You will find that removing oil-based paint can be a daunting task as they are thicker, stickier, and more resilient to water.

The first step is checking your paint tin and finding information on the type. Call the store where the paint was bought and check the solvent base if possible.

If both options are not possible, use some denatured alcohol on a swab or cloth and rub it on the paint. Pigments of the paint will transfer easily on the swab if the spilled paint is water-based.

If the spill is oil-based, it will not transfer easily. If these steps aren’t possible, follow the normal cleaning steps below. The paint spill not getting off will signal you to get a harder carpet cleaning solution.

Paints on the wall are generally water-based. Paint used for windows, doors, etc., are usually oil-based.

How to Remove Paint From Carpet

Get the items specified and follow the highlighted steps below to remove paint from your carpet.

Items Required

  •  Water
  •  Mild Dish Washing Liquid /Detergent/Soap ( Avoid products with bleach)
  •  Clean Cloths, Rags, or towel (try getting white ones as pigment may transfer with some low-quality materials)
  •  Putty Knife
  •  Paper Towels
  •  Needle
  •  Vacuum Cleaner
  •  Gloves
  •  Masks (Some solutions are dangerous to inhale)

 Possible Cleaning Solutions Requirements

  •  WD 40
  •  Acetone or Acetone based Solutions / Nail Polish Remover
  •  Commercial Carpet Cleaning Solutions
  •  Mineral Spirits
  •  Isopropyl Alcohol or Rubbing/Denatured Alcohol
  •  White Distilled Vinegar
  •  Paint Thinners
  • Turpentine Solution

General Steps to Getting Paint Off Carpet

The first step is always assessing the situation and asking yourself if the paint spill is fresh or dried. If the paint is fresh and wet, you need to act quickly. Follow the preliminary steps stated below and continue with the rest of the steps.

 What to do if the paint spill is fresh

Firstly, scoop the excess paint as much as you can. Use a putty knife spoon to do it. The paint you can get off at this stage will determine the extent of cleaning that you can do later.

Once the excess has been scooped, blot the spill using many paper towels. You can also use cloths or rags for this step. Change paper towels constantly. Blot and remove as much paint as possible.

If you have a wet vacuum cleaner, pour some water on the area, saturate the spill more, and use the vacuum to suck the sticky paint layer.

Please do not use a dry vacuum for this; it will damage the machine. This process should work irrespective of the type of paint.

Vacuuming wet paint off carpet
Mathew’s Painting Company / YouTube

Do not Scrub carpets; this will only make it worse. Scrubbing will push the paint the stain inside the carpet and embed itself in it, especially for shag carpets.

This action will only make the cleaning process harder. For thin carpets without any shag or volume, if you must scrub, use very soft-bristled brushes like a toothbrush to do it.

 What to do if the paint spill has dried off

Take a putty knife or needle and gently prick the patches of the spills; flakes should start coming off. Remove as much paint as possible. Make sure to be gentle with it. Fibers of carpets are easy to damage. Vacuum up all the flakes or chipped-off pieces of paint.

Clean with Soap & Water

Mix a solution of warm water with detergent, soap, or dish liquid. Spray it gently on the spilled area and let it soak up the cleaning solution. Use one teaspoon of detergent with 32 ounces of water.

Use plenty of paper towels, rags, or cloths and start blotting from the outside perimeter to the inside. Multiple applications will be required for this process to work, so we recommend patience. Scrape any excess with your plastic putty knife and restart the process.

The keyword in this step is spraying, not pouring. Do not drench the area with the solution. Moisture is still bad for carpets. Excessive drenching will cause molding problems later. Be extra careful with carpets made from natural fibers like jute or sisal, as water can ruin these fibers severely.

 If the stain is from water-based paint, you will most likely start seeing instant results.

For oil-based paints, try first with this solution and move on to other steps if this process isn’t yielding satisfactory results.

You want to minimize the use of hard chemicals to the best of our abilities as they will damage the carpet if left on too long.

Try Steaming the Paint Spill

Our goal is to keep the spill as soft as possible to make the removal process easy. Use a handheld steamer if available in the household, or get your clothing iron. Everyone has one of those.

Most clothing irons have a tube to put some water in and create steam. Use that to provide steam to the paint spill. Do not apply the iron directly on the spill; steam indirectly from above.

In the worst-case scenario, use a wet cloth, place it on the spill and gently iron it. Be extra careful with this step as you get this wrong, and it is burnt carpet all day long. Do not use the full heat settings.

Continue steaming the spill and blotting with paper towels or cloth along with the soapy water solution. clothing iron

Use Carpet Cleaning Solutions / Carpet Cleaning Machines

These commercial carpet cleaning solutions are made to remove stains and odors. If the soapy water and steam solution haven’t worked for you yet, then it’s time to opt for these cleaning solutions.

Some brands to look out for are Carpet Miracle, Zepp, Goof off, Krud Kutter, Folex, etc. You can also use all-purpose carpet cleaners.

If you have identified the type of paint on the carpet, opt for specific cleaners made for that paint. You can also get all-purpose rug cleaners or specific oil remover cleaners for rugs.

All these products will work effectively for water-based paints. For oil-based paints, give it a go but be prepared to use harder solutions,
commercial cleaning solutions

 Rent A Carpet Cleaning Machine 

You can also rent a carpet cleaner machine from our local hardware store. You can try getting the device with its specific cleaner solution and clean the stain with good old steam and cleaning solution generated from the machine.

Please use manufacturing instructions on using the machine, not the hardware store version. Using the proper solutions and cleaning techniques will give you a good chance of paint stain removal.

Professionals generally use a pre-spray cleaning solution on the stain and later steam clean it with the lather generated, wash the lather with water, and have a special machine to vacuum up all the moisture from the carpet.

 Move on to harder Solutions

The first thing to do is test out the solutions in a small area to see how the solution reacts to the carpet. Carpets are made from different materials, and their reaction to various solutions will also be different.

If the soapy water and steaming solution don’t work for water-based paints or acrylics, it is best to try rubbing alcohol on the paint spill. Another concoction is one teaspoon of vinegar with one teaspoon of baking soda diluted in 250 ml of water.

Acrylics especially have resin bonds which sometimes need to be dissolved for the paint to come out. Other alternatives to try out are solutions like nail polish removers, WD 40, or citrus-based dissolving agents. Leave this solution on for about 15 minutes max.
wd 40

Acetone can also be effective against latex paints. Be extra careful while using Acetone as overuse will penetrate the carpet’s backing. You can also use some white distilled vinegar on the stain. A capful at max and dilute it with some hot water.

Never use apple cider vinegar as it contains pectin and will attract pests and bugs later. Another concoction to try is washing up liquid with one cup of hot water on the stain for 15 minutes or so.

Oil Base paints will require the use of paint thinners, denatured alcohol mineral spirits, WD 40, rubbing alcohol, or turpentine oil to get rid of the paint stain.

Be extra careful with these solutions as they are highly flammable and release toxic fumes that will harm our respiratory systems. Masks are necessary while applying these products.

When applying these solutions, always do it in sessions alternating between soapy water cleaning.

Call a Professional Carpet Cleaning Service

Calling professionals for the job should always be in priority as they do this for a living. They have accumulated practical techniques and proper equipment like industrial vacuums, cleaners, steamers over their work period.  

We recommend this because the machines they use not only will clean the carpet better but the exaction of water and moisture far above what you would get from a rented carpet cleaning machine at your local hardware.

It will include costs, but it is bound to be cheaper than replacing the carpets themselves. We recommend scooping up the excess if the spills are huge and calling professionals immediately.Carpet chemical cleaning