How to Get Paint Out of Carpet

Painting is a labor-intensive and messy job, and no matter how hard we try to keep our workspace clean, sometimes catastrophe strikes. Whether you’re an amateur or a regular Picasso, we all have mishaps sometimes, and there’s no use crying over spilled milk… or should I say paint, in this case.

In this article, we will try our best to help you avoid a costly carpet repair or replacement and help you get your spilled paint out. Removing spilled paint from a carpet depends on several factors. What type of paint has been spilled, and is it wet or dry. We will go over these scenarios, and hopefully, by the end, you will be well on your way to removing the spilled paint.

blob of pink paint on white carpet close up with another in background
Photo from: travellinglight via Canva

Different Types of Paint

There are three different types of paints and it’s important to know which type of paint you are cleaning up before you begin trying to rectify your spill.

Acrylic paint – This type of paint is water-soluble but dries the fastest of the three. Once it dries, acrylic becomes more water-resistant. Spray paint is a common type of acrylic paint. Acrylic paint has coloring and pigment added to an acrylic polymer.

Latex paint – This paint comes from an acrylic resin comparable to acrylic paints, but it is more water-based. This paint type is what most people use to paint their homes and is the most typical type of paint stain to find on your carpet.

Oil paint –  This type of paint is normally made from a natural oil like linseed oil or a synthetic oil like alkyd oil. These paints are typically more durable but tend to take considerably longer to dry.

Removing Water-Based Paint Stains

Removing water-based paint stains is typically easier than oil paint stains. Water based-based paints are latex and most acrylic paints.


  • Dull knife or putty knife
  • Paper towels or clean rags
  • Clear liquid dish soap
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Clothes steamer
  • Vacuum

Instructions for Fresh Paint Stains

  1.  You will begin by removing as much excess paint as you can from the carpet. Use the dull edge of a knife or a putty knife to lift away the paint. Never rub the stain with a cloth or paper towel because that will just push the paint deeper into the carpet fibers.
  2. Wet the paper towel or clean rag and then use it to blot away the paint that remains on the surface of the carpet. Switch out your cloth or paper towel for a clean area on the towel with every blot so as to not transfer the paint back to the carpet. Continue doing this till all the paint is gone.
  3. Follow up with a clean rag that has been wet in a solution of warm water and clear liquid dish soap. Mix a cup of lukewarm water with one teaspoon of clear dishwashing detergent and blot into where the paint spilled. 

Instructions for Dried Paint Stains

  1. Mix together hot water and a few drops of clear dishwashing liquid. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the mixture and saturate the dried paint stain. Let this sit for about 5-10 minutes to soften the paint.
  2. Use a dull knife or putty knife to gently scrape away the paint from the fibers, once the paint has begun to soften. Blot with a warm wet paper towel as the paint releases. Apply more of the hot soapy mixture with the brush as required. Keep working until the paint is gone. (As you’re doing this, the paint is softening and may smear so be careful not to rub)
  3. If you find that the hot water solution isn’t softening the paint, use a blast of steam on the stain from a handheld clothes steamer. DO NOT USE A HOUSEHOLD IRON – it will melt the fibers of your carpet.
  4. Continue slowly scraping and blotting until the paint is gone.
  5. Allow the carpet to air-dry and then vacuum sufficiently to lift the carpet fibers and capture any loose paint particles that remain.

Removing Oil-Based Paint Stains

Removing oil-based stains is much harder to do than water-based paints and you will follow the same order of steps regardless if the paint is wet or dry.


  • Dull knife or putty knife
  • Paper towels
  • Clean cotton rag
  • Clothes steamer
  • Paint solvent
  • Clear dish soap
  • Soft-bristled brush
  • Vacuum
  1. If the paint drip is wet, use a clean putty knife to lift it up and away from the carpet. Use a blast of steam from a clothes steamer to keep the paint wet as you lift away paint and blot the area with a wet paper towel.
  2.  If the paint is dry, use a clean putty knife to gently scrape away as much of the paint as you can from the fibers. Use a  vacuum to suck up any dry paint that flakes off.
  3. Using a paint solvent, be sure and test the solvent on a hidden area of the carpet to make sure it doesn’t cause a color change. Place a dab of the solvent on a clean cotton rag and blot the stained area. Work gradually and move to a clean area of the rag as color is transferred. Blot but never rub.
  4. Mix together hot water and a few drops of clear dish soap. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the mixture and gently scrub the area where the paint solvent was used. Using a clean wet cloth blot the area again to “rinse” away any excess water.
  5. Once the carpet is dry, vacuum to restore the pile.
pink blob of paint on white carpet painting brush close up
Photo from: tavellinglight via Canva

Tips To Prevent Spilling Paint

    • Cover the floor and work area with drop cloths. Tape the drop cloths down with painters tape to avoid them moving around
    • Do not put too much paint on your brush or roller. Over dipping your brush and roller always leads to flying or spilling paint
    • Work with small amounts of paint at a time. Avoid carrying around large buckets of paint — it’s better to pour paint into a smaller container than work from a large paint bucket
    • Mix your paint well in a well-covered area – poorly mixed paint does not apply nicely and can cause splatters or drippage.
    • Do not juggle tools as you are working. Make sure you have sufficient space to place your items and keep your hands free of multiple tools.

Tips for Before You Remove Paint Stains

  • Gather all your supplies before beginning – it’s important to have everything you need ready before you start. Once you start, it’s important to work through getting the stain removed and you will not be able to step away to go and get additional materials or you will have to start from the first step all over again.
  • Make sure you’re aware of which kind of paint you have spilled – there are different clean-up methods for different kinds of paint so make sure you use the right one.
  • Don’t wait to clean up paint spills – the faster you tackle the paint spill, the better. Wet paint requires less effort to remove than dried paint.
  • NEVER EVER SCRUB – this is a big no-no. You will just push the paint further into the fibers. Blotting is always the method used to remove any kind of stain from a carpet.
  • Don’t forget safety – when working with harsh cleaners or paint solvents always wear gloves and be sure to open any windows.
lime green paint on red handled paint brush sitting on grey carpet
Photo from: severija via Canva

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you get paint out of a carpet after it dries?

It is not impossible to get dried paint out of carpet. Many people have had success with paint that had dried into a carpet years before so don’t despair — refer to our specific method above for removing dried paint for oil-based paints and acrylic paints.

How does rubbing alcohol remove paint from carpet?

Rubbing alcohol is a degreasing agent that can remove different kinds of paint stains from carpets. To use rubbing alcohol, you should first remove as much paint from the carpet as you can with a dull knife and needle-nose pliers. You should soak a clean cloth in rubbing alcohol and blot the stain.

Will nail polish remover remove paint from carpet?

You can use nail polish remover to remove paint from a carpet but the best time to use it is when the paint is still wet.

Will baking soda get paint out of carpet?

Many people reach for baking soda when they spill paint on a carpet, but it’s essential to know that it only works when used with an acid solution. If you use it without the acid, it does little. An acidic liquid like white vinegar works well when mixed with baking soda.

How do you clean up spilled paint?

The best way to clean up spilled paint is to do it immediately. Do not let the spilled paint sit on the carpet. Use a plastic putty knife to scoop up as much paint as you can. Then, mix a solution of warm water and dish soap — 1 cup: ½ tsp and dump it into a spray bottle. Spray the stain with the solution, then run a wet/dry vac over the area without waiting. You can repeat this process as often as needed until the stain disappears.

Does paint thinner damage carpet?

It’s best to conduct a spot test before applying any paint thinner onto your carpet since paint removers like alcohol, acetone, turpentine, and paint thinner can discolor carpets.

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