7 Effective Tips to Blot Out Paint Stains From Your Carpet

Lawrence Bonk
Written by Lawrence Bonk
Updated April 26, 2022
woman painting on living room floor
Photo: South_agency/ Getty Images

Paint is for walls, not carpet fibers

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Painting can be a time-consuming process, and accidents happen. Before contacting your local top-rated carpet cleaning service, consider a DIY fix. Removing paint from carpeting is relatively simple with these simple steps and requires materials you likely already have in the home. 

3 Steps to Removing Water-Based Paint Stains

bucket of green paint on the carpet
Photo: czarny/ Adobe Stock

There are essentially two techniques for cleaning paint from the carpet, one for oil-based paint and another for water-based paint (latex and acrylic.) Check your paint label before deciding which materials and techniques to use.

1. Prepare the Stain

It’s ideal to start the process before the paint dries. But if you’re dealing with dried paint, prep the stain by mixing hot water and a little bit of dish detergent. Don’t overdo the dish soap—use just a drop or so. If you worry about using dish soap on carpets, try making a vinegar-based homemade carpet cleaner

Pour the mixture on the stain and let it sit for a few minutes to soften the paint. Once the stain is wet, blot the stain with a damp paper towel. Work gently here and just blot—don’t scrub.

2. Scrape the Stain

Grab a dull, wide knife, like a dedicated scraping knife (though a butter knife or scrub brush can work for small stains). Use the knife to slowly and gently scrape the paint stain, adding more of the cleaning mixture as you scrape. Work carefully to ensure the carpet fibers remain undamaged. 

3. Steam and Repeat 

Soaking, blotting, and scraping will do the job in many cases. But for more stubborn stains, it’s time to steam and repeat. Grab a handheld steamer and operate it according to instructions, directing it to the stain as you continue scraping. If you lack access to a steamer, an iron on a low setting can work in a pinch. Start the process from the beginning to remove any lingering water-based paint particles.

4 Steps to Removing Oil-Based Paint Stains

Oil-based paints can be more difficult to clean when compared to their water-based counterparts. The stains also differ in severity, so start this process with the simplest step first. This technique should have your carpet squeaky clean in no time. 

1. Steam, Pick, and Blot

woman cleaning carpet with handheld cleaner
Photo: perfectlab/ Adobe Stock

If the paint has dried, use a handheld steamer or an iron on its lowest setting to soften and moisten the stain. For fresh spills, skip this part of the step. 

Grab a needle or pin and gently pick at the stain to break up the paint particles. This can be time-consuming and exacting, so put on your patience hat. Once the paint particles separate, blot the area with a damp paper towel to pick up the loose paint particles. Repeat as needed.

2. Use Turpentine or Paint Thinner

Not all oil-based paint stains react to the above step, so it’s time to break out the heavy artillery: turpentine or paint thinner. Check the paint label to see which options work better. Then, do a spot-test on a small section of the carpet to ensure the solution will react positively to your carpet fibers. Dip the corner of a clean cloth into the mixture and blot the stain slowly and carefully. Continue blotting—not scrubbing—until you remove the paint stain. 

3. Blot With Water and Dish Soap

Are you still noticing some discoloration from the paint? Instead of overusing turpentine or paint thinner, move on to a simple mixture of hot water with a drop of dish soap. Gently blot the area with a clean cloth until satisfied with the results. For extremely stubborn oil-based stains, try another round of turpentine or paint thinner, but use a tiny amount to ensure the integrity of your carpet fiber. 

4. Finish and Dry

When satisfied with your work, rinse the newly cleaned area by blotting with a damp cloth. Then, grab a dry cloth and continue blotting to remove any lingering moisture from the carpet. Once it’s thoroughly dried, step back and admire your handiwork. 

DIY Cleaning Paint From Carpeting vs. Hiring a Pro

Starting with the DIY route can save you a good chunk of change. But if the above methods prove unfruitful, contact a pro for a consultation. A professional carpet cleaning costs between $120 to $230, depending on the size and severity of the stain. Local carpet cleaners have dealt with removing hundreds of paint stains, so they’ll know what to do if you want your carpet looking brand-new again.

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