How to Get Paint Out of Carpet

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  • 2 hours
  • Beginner
  • 100
What You'll Need
Shop-vac
Water
Dish soap
Rags
Spray bottle

Spilling paint on the carpet is a big whoops. And if you've been where we've been—completely frozen in gripping fear as you watch a gallon of green paint glug out onto the carpet in your new rental—you know that acting fast is a must when it comes to saving your carpet from paint stains.

Knowing how to get paint out of your carpet should be a preemptive skill that you learn. Everyone who paints anything in the home should know the basics before they pop the lid on the can of paint for any DIY—whether it's painting walls or refinishing a dresser in the living room.

We learned this tip from a professional painter a few years back (see the incident involving a gallon of green paint in a rental): the best way to get paint out of carpet involves boiling water, a spray bottle, a Shop-vac, and rags.

Method One: The Shop-Vac Method

shop vac cleaning carpet

If you've got paint on your carpet you need to act fast. The first step is to get very hot water, if not boiling water, and put it in a spray bottle. The most effective spray bottles are ones with nozzles that have a very strong, sharp spray setting. The stronger, and more direct the spray is, the better. Spray the water directly into the fibers of the carpet so that the paint lifts up. As the paint lifts, grab the Shop-Vac and suck the paint water up.

This process can be long, but it will remove the paint from the carpet as long as it hasn't dried. You can use an old rag to help soak up the paint water too if you're working to clean up a large amount of paint.

If you don't own a Shop-Vac, there are places where you can rent one. But whether the vacuum is your own or rented, it's important to clean the paint out after you're done. Hot, soapy water works well and leaves the vacuum ready for another use.

Method Two: Blot It

If you've spilled only a small amount of paint, get to blotting. You can use a hot water spray bottle with this method too. The trick here is to not scrub or rub — blot only. Blotting will help you soak up the paint without rubbing it down into the carpet fibers.

hands spraying and blotting to clean a carpet

Use old t-shirts and towels to soak up the mess. Microfiber rags and other specialty rags won't work well. Make sure to rinse the paint out of the rags you are using to blot, and switch to a new rag when the one you're using is too damp to soak up any more paint.

Removing Dry Paint

Removing dried paint is a beast of its own. To start, soak the stain in hot, hot water with a little bit of dish detergent or powdered Tide. Work the mixture into the stain and let it sit.

As the paint softens, use a butter knife to begin pulling clumps of paint out. You can also use the Shop-Vac (or another brand of wet-dry vacuums) to suck the paint and water mixture up as you soak and scrape.

This process takes a long time and you're likely to lose a carpet strand or two. If you don't seem to be having luck with your water and soap mixture, mix vinegar and a small amount of dish detergent together and try tackling the same method. You can also add lemon essential oil to this mixture for a little more stain-removing power.

As a last resort, you can attack the stain with WD-40. And while we have seen this paint removal DIY work wonders, it can damage the carpet underneath the paint.

wd-40 lubricant cans in a row

Once the paint is out of the carpet, the strands can still be stained. Use your favorite stain remover and see if the paint coloring disappears. We also recommend using lemon essential oil to remove stains and, when in doubt, a highly-rated pet carpet treatment.

If you find that your painting adventures leave you in need of new carpet, we've got you covered there. If your painting adventures leave you in need of a good carpet cleaning, we've got you covered there too.