How to Remove Paint from Carpeting
Whether you're repainting the house or working on an art project, spilt paint can quickly cause major panic. Some paint stains, like watercolor, are easy to lift, while others are a little more stubborn. The type of paint you're working with and how long ago it spilled will determine the best way to remove carpet stains. Here are some tips on removing paint from carpeting.
Timing is Everything
The best time for removing paint stains is when it's still wet. If it spilled seconds ago, blot it up with a damp cloth, sponge or paper towel. Wiping will spread the paint around, so it's important to simply apply pressure with the towel while remembering not to scrub using a back-and-forth motion. You will be able to lift the majority of the excess paint with this method, making the stain lighter in just seconds.
Know What You're Working With
The type of paint you spill on the carpet will make a difference in how quickly it dries and how easily it can be removed. Fast-drying paints like acrylic will set quickly, while greasier oil-based paints will take longer to completely sink in. However, oil-based paints are less responsive to water-based cleaners, which will affect what you should use to clean it up. If the paint has already dried, this will change how you treat the stain. For example, wet paints can usually be cleaned up quickly with a simple sponge, while dry paints should be scraped with a putty knife before a cleaner is applied.
Acrylic paints are water based and therefore one of the easier paints to remove from carpeting, as long as you notice the spill in time. But, they dry quickly so you'll want to move fast. Use nail polish remover or acetone and lift the paint stain by gently blotting with a clean cloth or towel. Finish the job by using warm water and a thick soap, like dishwashing detergent or shampoo, to ensure all the color is lifted and to rinse unpleasant smells from the polish remover.
Latex paint is also water based, but it uses vinyl resin instead of acrylic. Hydrogen peroxide is a solid option for removing latex paint. Using a standard 3% hydrogen peroxide solution, pour some on a clean rag or towel (but keep in mind it may discolor the cloth). Blot, don't scrub, the affected area and let it sit for an hour, and repeat if needed. If you'd prefer, vinegar also works well with vinyl paints, so you can remove a paint stain using the same method as with acrylic paint but substituting white vinegar.
Be careful when working with oil paint. If the stain has already dried, arrange for professional stain removal using a carpet cleaning service. Oil paints require a dry-cleaning solvent to remove a paint stain from carpeting. Dry-cleaning solvents, odorless mineral spirits, acetone and lacquer thinner can discolor your carpeting, so be sure to use only a small amount. Keep the solvent directly on top of the stain and not on any of the surrounding non-stained carpeting to prevent discoloration. Blot gently with a cloth or sponge to lift the paint, and use a thick detergent solution when you're finished to make sure that you aren't leaving any excess solvent in your carpeting.
If you notice a paint spill after it has already dried, you'll need to follow different steps. Start by using a sharp razor blade, putty knife or paint scraper to cut off larger pieces of dried paint. Then, spray WD-40 or a citrus-based dissolving agent on to the rest of the dried paint and let it sit for 20 minutes. Use the blade or scraper again to lift off the softened paint. As always, use a detergent and water solution and blot the area to preserve the color and smell of your carpet once you've removed the stain.