How to get paint out of a carpet – expert tips for fast results

How to get paint out of a carpet – expert tips for fast results

Every now and then you have to learn how to salvage a decorating accident. The worst? Learning how to get paint out of a carpet. 

We'll warn you now: it's not an easy job, particularly if yours is anything but a water-based paint. Even then, it's tricky. But following the right approach can make or break the clean up. 

So if you have been painting a room or the kids have been painting at home and there's been a spillage on your living room carpet, this is how to get paint out.

Speed is of the essence when getting paint out of a carpet, and while it's always better to call in the professionals to deep clean a carpet, sometimes it's just not possible. These instructions will be useful if you need to clean an area rug, too.

Whatever the type of paint, and while you're on hold with the professional cleaning company, blot water-based paint or scrape up oil-based carefully and thoroughly with paper kitchen towel or a blunt knife, putty knife, or whatever you have to hand. Do not press or rub, as you do not want to push paint down into the carpet fibers. The aim is to lift as much of the paint out of the carpet before you start cleaning.

Water-based paints, such as matte paints, are much easier to clean than oil-based, such as gloss paint, for example. So work out which type of paint yours is and following clean up instructions from there. Know that oil-based paints will be just about impossible to get out of carpet yourself, so blot until the professional cleaners answer your call.

Similarly, some carpet materials, such as those with a high nylon makeup, are easier to clean than others, so be sure to check the best method for your carpet type, too.

From testing out cleaning agents on a small patch of carpet that's otherwise unseen (perhaps beneath the couch) to ensuring your hands and eyes are protected from splashes of cleaning products and paint, take time to prep. 

Getting water-based paint out of carpet should, in theory, be the easiest of all the paint types. 

You will need:

Use a mix of around 1 part dish detergent to 15 parts water. If the paint spill is fresh, move on to step 5. Otherwise, if the paint has dried, allow the water to sit on the paint spill to sit for five minutes.

The warm soapy water should have loosened the dried paint enough that you can lift it. Spritz on more water as you go if needed.

If the paint is stubbornly adhered, a carpet steamer will help to loosen it further. If you don't have one, continue with the spritzing, lifting and blotting.

You will need to use a wet vacuum cleaner to do this safely. If you don't, keep blotting until the stain is dry enough to use your usual vacuum cleaner. Repeat the steps as necessary.

It's significantly more difficult to get paint out of carpet if it is oil-based. In the absence of professional help, this is what to try. 

You will need: 

The key with getting oil-based paint out of carpet is to try to lift as much of it as possible without pushing it into the carpet fiber. The best way to do this is with a think implement: a blunt knife, putting knife, spatula, whatever you have to hand. 

The best way to do this is with heat; a steam cleaner will be useful for this. Once the paint has softened, you can use your knife or spatula to pick paint up. Pliers or tweezers will be useful, too.

You probably have some paint thinner around for cleaning paint brushes. If it's the right type of thinner for your paint type (check the label), let some kitchen towel soak some up then carefully dab at the spill. Then blot with clean kitchen towel, then apply paint thinner again, then blot. Continue until you have lifted as much paint as possible.

Once you have lifted as much paint as you can, make a very mild solution of warm water and dish detergent (around 30 parts water to 1 part dish detergent). Dip a sponge into the warm water mix, squeeze gently and sponge the carpet.

Finally, once you have sponged the carpet as clean as it will go (you may need to swap out the warm water for a clean batch), blot it gently with kitchen towel until it's dry. Vacuum. 

Repeat the whole process as necessary. 

Getting acrylic paint out of carpet follows many of the same steps for removing oil-based paint from carpet. 

You will need: 

You will want to lift up as much of the paint as possible, whether blotting lightly with kitchen paper or scraping it up with a blunt knife. If the paint has dried, giving it a light brushing should help lift it. Use your tweezers or pliers, and a vacuum cleaner, to lift stray chunks.

Assuming you have lifted as much dried paint as possible, or blotted up as much wet paint as you can without rubbing, dip a damp cloth into laundry detergent then dab this on to the stain. Continue to blot.

Do this by applying the acetone to a cloth, then sponging it carefully on to the stain. Open the windows first to ventilate the room.

Keep repeating the laundry detergent, blotting, acetone, blotting routine until the paint begins to lift.

This should lift the rest of the acrylic from the carpet. 

This should act effectively, but do bear in mind that a cleaned patch may well show up lighter against the rest of your carpet.

To get dried paint out of carpet you must first soften it. This can be done with anything from warm, soapy water applied with a cloth to hot steam applied with a steam cleaner, depending on the paint finishes you are using. Water-based paints can then be sponged, while oil-based or acrylic paints will need to be lifted with pliers or tweezers, then vacuumed up before a final sponging. 

We are very familiar with cleaning with vinegar, but we would not recommend using it to remove paint from carpet. Instead, use a combination of careful blotting and scraping, and a mix of warm water and liquid detergent. 

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