Cleaning the paint out of your carpet is kind of like working to get a really big knot of your hair. You know, the ones from when you were a kid that you had to break out the kids detangler for? It’s no fun, but it’s doable, and if you’ve got the right tools around, it can be relatively painless.
Painting a is one of the quickest ways to totally change the vibe of a room, next to feng-shuing it. The easiest way to protect your flooring and make for a quick clean up is using painters tape and covering the floors with plastic, but sometimes we get stoked to start a new project, and these things just happen.
The good news is there is still hope! Don’t start ripping up the carpet just yet. We’ve outlined some simple ways to get your carpet back in tip-top with items you likely have around the house already. Depending on how much paint is on there, the time may look different, but let’s just say, you won’t be losing your entire Saturday from it.
These are the basic tools you can use to clean paint out of the carpet. The cleaning agent you use will be based on what kind of paint is on the carpet and if it is wet or dry paint, so make sure to read on below for more details.
The first step is to confirm if your paint is oil-based or water-based. Paint needs a solvent (either oil or water) to evaporate in order for the paint to dry. Each of these paint types have different chemical makeups, so each one will require a slightly different approach to breaking down the compounds, and returning your carpet back to all of its glory.
Oil-based paint typically uses linseed oil as the base polymer, and this type of paint takes much longer to dry than it’s water-based sister. This paint is not used as often in homes due to the VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds) that they emit upon drying. This type of paint takes much longer to dry, and requires a paint thinner to effectively remove it.
Water-based paint is the most common for household paints. This is your acrylic and latex paint, and as the name suggests, these paints rely on the base polymer of water. Water-based paints dry much quicker, and release much fewer VOCs, so they are considered to be healthier for the environment.
If you’re not sure whether the paint is oil or water based, there’s a simple way to test it! Take a rag and put a little bit of Denatured Ethanol on it, and wipe it across the dry paint. If the cloth is stained with the wall paint, it is water based.
Taking a wet rag, blot the paint spot to moisten the area. Do not scrub! That will cause the paint to spread to a larger area.
Add a small amount of the laundry detergent to the wet rag and again blot the affected area. Here you will notice the paint loosening a bit. (Again, do not scrub!)
Add some acetone (or vinegar/water solution) to your rag, and blog the paint stain. Repeat this step until the paint begins to disappear. If this doesn’t work, use the water part of the rag to blot away the acetone, and apply carpet cleaner, allowing it to sit on the spot for about 10 minutes, then rinse.
After everything has been rinsed away and the coloring is gone, go ahead and wet vac the area. (If you do not have a wet vac, you can rent one from home depot, and sometimes your local grocery store as well for a reasonable price) Repeat steps 3 & 4 as much as needed.
It’s like it never happened.
Using your putty knife, scrape up the excess oil and put it into some kind of container. (old coffee cans work well here) Do your best to avoid spreading it around during this process.
If the oil-based paint begins to dry, using your wet vac to moisten the affected area. You’ll want to make sure that you haven’t missed any excess paint during the scraping process here.
We’re pulling out the big guns here: turpentine. Make sure to put on proper safety equipment when working with this strong chemical (safety glasses and gloves). Place the turpentine on your rag, and blot the affected area (no scrubbing!)
Mix together some cold water and dish detergent. Place a new rag in the solution and blot the paint spot. This should help to get the turpentine out of the carpet. If there is still paint on there, go back to step 3 and repeat.
It’s like it never happened.
The steps above are for wet paint stains, so if the paint is good and dry on there, check out these tips below.
For dry water-based paint stains, you will want to use a slightly different approach. If the paint is fully dry, you’ll want to keep the paint dry and spend more time on removing the paint blobs from the carpet as best as you can, without damaging it. The putty knife will work well here, and you may even want to use some small pliers, basically brushing the paint knots out of your carpets’ hair. After you get the dry paint removed, go ahead and refer back to the steps above, skipping step #4, and swapping out the rag for an old toothbrush and this time, getting your scrub on.
If you have oil-based paint that managed to dry on your carpet, first get the blobs off that you can (being careful not to rub the paint into the fibers). Then, dampen the area with the steam vac. Make a solution of 3% hydrogen peroxide and let stand for an hour. Blot and repeat until the carpet is stain free.
Act as fast as possible! If you are able to catch this stain right away, you can use rubbing alcohol and a toothbrush, scrubbing the paint stain until it comes out, then washing the item as normal. If the paint has already dried on the clothes, then you’ll want to scrape off what you can, using a putty knife, or even a metal spoon could work here. After you get the excess dry paint removed, soak the stain in rubbing alcohol, then go to town with your trusty old toothbrush until the stain is gone. Wash clothes as normal, and voilà!