How to remove paint from carpet – the ultimate guide

Spilt some paint on the carpet and fear the worst? Don’t panic. We share our top tips that’ll save your carpet and restore that pile like new.

Updated 2 October 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time7 minutes

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The great thing about paint is it can transform a room, add colour and creativity to crafts, and is generally easy to use. That’s why adults and children alike love to use it, whether for a re-decorating project or simply having fun. But when paint stains are left on carpets, the fun stops and the panic sets in. Luckily, there’s no need to browse that new carpet catalogue just yet – our guide gives you all the best tips and tricks for how to remove paint from carpet, and get them looking good as new.

How to remove paint from carpet

No one likes the look of a stained carpet. So if you’re wondering how to remove paint from carpet, the good news is that it doesn’t usually take much time. But this will depend on how long the stain has been there and how soon after noticing it you treat it. Knowing how to remove old carpet stains can be tricky, and prevention is always key, so the best thing to avoid the headache of spilt paint is to cover carpets with a sturdy material when you’re decorating. But for those times when it’s easier said than done, we’ve outlined several paint removing methods that’ll work wonders on your carpet. Whatever method you choose, remember to thoroughly rinse away all traces of cleaning products. If you need further help getting other stains out, read our guide on how to clean carpets stains.

How to remove emulsion paint from carpet

Water-based paint, like emulsion, dissolves in water, so it reacts well to this relatively simple process of cleaning water-based paint stains. If you’re not sure what type of paint yours is, refer to the paint tin for more information.

Alternatively, dip a cotton wool ball in some acetone or methylated spirits and gently wipe on a hidden area where you’ve used the paint. If it starts to come off, it’s water-based.

You will need:

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  • Method

    1. 1

      Blot the area with a paper towel

      Soak up as much of the paint as you can blotting, not rubbing the area, as this will only make things worse by pushing the paint further into the carpet pile.

    2. 2

      Create cleaning solution

      For dry paint stains, use a white cloth to apply a solution of hot water and a few drops of washing-up liquid. (A coloured cloth may transfer pigment to the carpet.) Then, leave the solution to work in for a few minutes to help soften the dry paint, before using a pin or blunt knife to scrape off some of the paint residues.

    3. 3

      Apply distilled white vinegar

      Pour a small amount of neat vinegar onto a clean white cloth and dab but do not rub the stain (rubbing it may damage the carpet pile and cause fluffy-looking patches). Work from the outer edges to the centre of the affected area. The stain will start to transfer onto the cloth.

    4. 4

      Repeat dabbing

      Do this until all the paint has disappeared. Depending on the size of the stain and the amount of paint, this process shouldn’t take too long.

    5. 5

      Wash the area

      Wet the area where the stain was with warm soapy water and a sponge, cleaning off any remaining residue and leaving it to dry.

    6. 6

      Hoover the area

      This will help to lift out any small paint flakes that have been left on your carpet.

How to remove acrylic paint from carpet

Acrylic paint, though water-based, can require a little more effort when removing it from carpet – particularly if it has dried in.

If you do use acetone to remove acrylic paint from carpet, always test on a small, inconspicuous area first to check for its suitability.

It’s also essential to make sure the room is well ventilated to avoid breathing in the fumes.

  1. 1

    If the paint is still wet, dry blot the stain using a paper towel to soak up any paint on the carpet.

  2. 2

    For a dry paint stain, use a toothbrush to help loosen the paint from the carpet pile. You can then use a needle or blunt knife to scrape away any loose chunks of paint.

  3. 3

    Fill a spray bottle with a solution of one teaspoon of mild washing-up liquid to one cup of warm water and spray the solution directly onto the stain.

  4. 4

    Blot the stain again using a paper towel sprayed with the soap solution, working from the outside in.

  5. 5

    Use a dry paper towel to blot the spot until the stain is removed.

  6. 6

    If there is still some paint remaining, repeat the steps from 1-5 until you have entirely removed the paint from the carpet.

  7. 7

    If the paint stain is particularly stubborn, use some acetone on a cloth and dab the spot, leaving to sit for 15 minutes before soaking it up with a dry cloth.

  8. 8

    Leave the carpet to dry and give it a hoover to restore the fibres.

How to remove gloss paint from carpet

Many gloss paints are oil-based and contain a resin to give them a hard-wearing quality, which means they’re more tricky to remove than water-based paints. A fresh stain from gloss paint will be easier to remove than a dried-in one, so always treat a gloss paint stain as soon as you notice it, where possible.

  1. 1

    For wet paint, blot the stain with a dry paper towel, taking care not to scrub it.

  2. 2

    Dip a cloth in a thinning solvent such as acetone and dab the stain from the outside in.

  3. 3

    Alternatively, you can also use a small amount of turpentine. Make sure you air the room and test on a hidden area first for suitability.

  4. 4

    For dry paint stains, follow the procedure above or use a handheld steamer to soften the paint. Use a needle or blunt knife to break up any dried paint, removing any residue from the carpet.

  5. 5

    Once most of the paint has been lifted out of the carpet, use a cloth to apply a solution containing a teaspoon of washing-up liquid and one cup of warm water. Gently work it in from the outer edges to the centre.

  6. 6

    Leave the carpet to dry, then hoover to lift the fibres.

How to remove dried paint from carpet

It’s a fact of life that sometimes you won’t notice a paint stain on your carpet until it has already dried in. But don’t worry – this simple method will teach you how to remove dried paint from carpet fibres in an instant.

  1. 1

    Using a blunt knife, gently scrape up as much of the dried paint as you can. You can also use a needle to pick at any clumps. Tip: Using a handheld steamer can help to soften paint further while you scrape dried paint residue away.

  2. 2

    Hoover up all the dried paint flakes.

  3. 3

    Add one cup of hot water to one teaspoon of washing-up liquid to create a cleaning solution.

  4. 4

    Using a stiff brush, scrub the cleaning solution into the area of dried paint until the stain has gone.

  5. 5

    Rinse the area using a sponge and clean, plain water.

  6. 6

    Allow the carpet to dry before hoovering to restore the pile.

Sometimes the above steps may not be enough to remove all of the dried in paint, in which it might be time to call in a professional carpet cleaner.

How to remove furniture paint from carpet

Removing furniture paint from a carpet requires care and attention. Start by gently scraping off any dried paint using a plastic scraper. Test a small, inconspicuous area of the carpet with a commercial paint remover, following the product's instructions. Alternatively, try a mixture of warm water and dish soap, applying it to the paint stain with a cloth and blotting. For stubborn paint, use rubbing alcohol on a cloth, but first test it on an inconspicuous area to avoid damaging the carpet fibers. Always work gently, blotting and avoiding vigorous scrubbing, to prevent spreading the paint or damaging the carpet.

Answers to your top questions on how to remove paint from carpet

What home remedy will remove paint from carpet?

Aside from distilled white vinegar, which is excellent at removing paint from surfaces, a solution of washing up liquid and water will usually do the trick in removing paint spills.

Of course, how dried in your paint stains will affect how well your carpet reacts to these home remedies.

Steam cleaning can be an effective method for shifting dried in paint stains, but generally, the use of a solvent is required, or the services of a professional carpet cleaner.

Does WD-40 remove paint from carpet?

WD-40 is a lubricant that can penetrate oil and can be effective at removing dried-in paint from carpet.

Once you’ve scraped off as much dry paint as possible using a needle or blunt knife, remove any flaked paint residue and apply the WD-40 over the area.

Dab it in with a clean cloth and leave to work for about 30 minutes. Then, rub the stain with a clean cloth and the stain should completely lift out.

You can rinse any remaining WD-40 off the carpet using a cloth dipped in some warm water with a small amount of washing-up liquid.

How do you remove dried paint?

Dried paint can be removed from several surfaces, such as glass, tiles, wood and plastic, using many different methods. Some of the techniques will require using a solvent, and some just water or olive oil. If you’re wondering how to get paint out of clothes, our handy guide is full of useful tips.

As each surface will react differently to solvents and various cleaning methods, the best advice is to do your research before deciding on a suitable process for removing dried paint.

Does white spirit get paint out of carpet?

White spirit can work well to remove oil-based paint stains from carpets, although you should always test it on an inconspicuous area first.

  1. 1

    If it’s still wet, use a cloth to dab up any paint, taking care not to rub and spread the stain.

  2. 2

    For dry paint, use a spoon or blunt knife to scrape away any paint residue.

  3. 3

    Take two sponges, dip one into a mixture of water and a few drops of washing-up liquid and soak the other sponge with some neat white spirit.

  4. 4

    Apply the sponge with white spirit directly onto the stain, dabbing the stain for 5-10 seconds.

  5. 5

    Rinse the stain using the sponge dipped in warm soapy water. Repeat this two-part process until all the paint is removed.

  6. 6

    Dry the area with a clean towel and, once dry, hoover to restore the carpet pile.

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