Cleaning Experts Share Tips on Removing Paint From Carpet


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If you plan to paint your walls, cabinetry or anything else, you’ll want to know the best way to remove potential paint stains that may arise. While paint stains may not be a daily household issue, it’s important you know how to get paint out of carpet before it dries and makes the removal process more difficult.

If an at-home paint project has gone awry, rest assured there are steps you can follow to remove these stains. Here at the Good Housekeeping Institute, experts in the Cleaning Lab test stain removers to find the products that will remove any and all spills from coffee stains to red wine stains, blood stains and more.

Depending on whether you are working with a wet or dry water- or oil-based paint stain, you may be able to lift the paint with household items you already have under your kitchen sink. We’ll cover acrylic, latex and oil-based stains below.

You can reference our guide to removing paint from clothes if your favorite tee also got stained, as well as our guide to cleaning a carpet the right way. For now, here is everything you need to know to successfully get water- or oil-based paint out of carpet.

Before you start

Before you jump into cleaning your carpet, our cleaning expert Carolyn Forté, Home Care & Cleaning Lab Executive Director, shares some pointers to keep in mind:

  • Use a white cloth. If using a cloth to remove paint (rather than a sponge or paper towels), opt for a white cloth so the color from the cloth doesn’t bleed into the carpet.
  • Blot rather than rub cleaning product into the carpet. “Rubbing is bad, especially for carpets,” says Forté. Focus on pulling the paint “up and out” of the carpet.
  • Don’t use more water than absolutely necessary. You don’t want to over-wet or over-saturate the carpet and therefore the padding underneath. We recommend using a spray bottle to avoid this. If you don’t have a spray bottle on hand, you can also use a wet sponge or cloth.
  • Don’t apply straight dish soap to a carpet stain. Liquid dishwashing detergent is too thick and sudsy, so you’ll never be able to completely rinse it out of your carpet. Instead, we recommend mixing dish soap with warm water.
  • Apply paint thinner to a hidden spot on your carpet for safety and colorfastness. If you don’t notice any damage, then it’s safe to proceed!
  • Wear gloves while cleaning and open a window to make sure you have proper ventilation when using paint thinner.
top down image of a toddler creating a huge mess with primary coloured paints

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How to get wet water-based paint out of carpet

Acrylic and latex paint are popular water-based paints and are easier to remove than oil-based paint. Acrylic paint is known for its fast drying times and ability to be applied to a variety of surfaces, from canvas to paper. Meanwhile, water-based latex has become a popular paint for cabinetry in recent years.

What You’ll Need

  • Latex gloves
  • Putty knife
  • Spray bottle
  • Warm water
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Clean white cloth or paper towels
  1. Scrape away excess paint. While wearing gloves, use a putty knife or utensil with a hard, dull surface to scrape off excess paint from the carpet. Try to remove as much of the paint as you can.
  2. Spray with water. Add warm water to a spray bottle and spray it onto the stained area.
  3. Mix together equal parts warm water and liquid dishwashing detergent. Prepare the solution in a container or bowl that’s wide enough to dip a cloth into.
  4. Apply the solution to the stain. Use a clean white cloth you don’t mind ruining or paper towels. Dip a cloth into the solution and blot the stain to remove the paint. It’s important you avoid rubbing the stain as it may work the paint deeper into the carpet.
  5. Wet with warm water. Use a spray bottle with warm water to flush out dish soap and continue to blot with a clean cloth of paper towels.
  6. Repeat steps four and five until all paint has been removed.

How to get wet oil-based paint out of carpet

Oil-based paint is a heavy-duty option for painting interior walls. While many choose oil-based paint for the glossy finish, it can be a lot harder to remove from carpet. You’ll need to use paint thinner or turpentine for this process.

What You’ll Need

  • Latex gloves
  • Putty knife
  • Sponge or clean white cloth
  • Paint thinner or turpentine
  • Liquid dishwashing detergent
  • Warm water
  • Spray bottle
  1. Scrape away the excess paint. Wearing gloves, use a putty knife or utensil with a hard, dull surface to remove excess paint from the carpet. Blot with a clean white cloth to lift up as much paint as you can.
  2. Spray with water. Use a spray bottle with warm water to wet the stained area. Blot again with a white cloth.
  3. Apply paint thinner. Starting at the edges of the paint stain, apply paint thinner or turpentine with a wet sponge or white cloth. Be careful to keep the paint thinner from spreading the stain. To avoid spreading, work on individual carpet tufts, carefully applying the remover and blotting the stain. If your sponge or cloth becomes covered in paint, rinse it or use a new one. Continue the blotting process until no more paint is removed.
  4. Apply dish soap solution. Mix 1/4 teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent with one cup of warm water in a bowl or container. Use a clean sponge or fresh white cloth to apply solution to carpet. Gently blot the area.
  5. Rinse and repeat if needed. Use a spray bottle with warm water to rinse out the dish soap and blot dry with a clean towel. Repeat steps four and five as many times as needed until all paint is removed from the carpet.

How to remove dry paint from carpet

It’s best to remove paint as soon as you notice the stain. Dried paint is a lot harder to remove than wet paint. But if you catch a stain later not all hope is lost. Follow these steps for both dried water- and oil-based paint stains.

What You’ll Need

  • Latex gloves
  • Putty knife
  • Paint thinner or turpentine
  • Sponge or clean white cloth
  1. Break up excess paint. While wearing gloves, use your fingers to break up the dried paint and separate the carpet fibers.
  2. Scrape off the paint. Go in with a putty knife or utensil with a hard, dull surface to scrape away any dried-up excess paint that may break free from the tuffs. Removing as much dried paint as possible will make it easier for the paint thinner or turpentine to get into the fibers. Be gentle so you don’t pull out any carpet fibers.
  3. Apply paint thinner or turpentine. Use a sponge or clean white cloth to apply paint thinner to the stained area. Blot the stain to remove it, and avoid rubbing the paint further into the carpet. For dried water-based paint, you can spray warm water onto the stain first and blot with a sponge or clean white cloth. If the paint doesn’t come out, apply paint thinner.
  4. Rinse. Spray with warm water and blot with a clean white cloth until all paint is removed.
Headshot of Elizabeth Berry

Updates Editor

Elizabeth Berry (she/her) is the Updates Editor at the Good Housekeeping Institute where she optimizes lifestyle content across verticals. Prior to this role, she was an Editorial Assistant for Woman’s Day where she covered everything from gift guides to recipes. She also has experience fact checking commerce articles and holds a B.A. in English and Italian Studies from Connecticut College.



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