How to Remove Paint From Carpet

If you're getting ready to sell, giving your walls a fresh coat of paint is an easy way to improve the saleability of your home. If you've just moved into a new home, repainting can help transform your house into your dream home.

When it comes to protecting your floors, the simplest way to keep them free of paint splatters is to repaint at the same time as you replace the floor. If you don't plan to replace your flooring, you'll need to take some extra precautions to safeguard your floors from drips and spills—especially if you're dealing with carpet.

How to get paint out of carpet

No matter how well you plan, accidents can happen. If you're dealing with a paint spill on carpet, try these solutions:

Wet paint

If you've just spilled and the paint is still wet, the best method for lifting the spill depends on the type of paint:

  • For water-based paints, blot the spot with a wet paper towel. Do not scrub—just blot.
  • For latex paints, blot the spot to remove as much wet paint as possible. Don't scrub—this will push the paint further into the carpet pile. Mix a cup of lukewarm water with 2 teaspon of mild dish soap. Gently blot the spill, working from the outside of the stain to the inside. Let the area dry completely, and vacuum.

Dry paint

If you didn't notice the drip or spill or didn't have the right supplies on hand at the time, don't worry—it's not too late. Like wet paint, the best approach depends on the type of paint:

  • For water-based paints, create a solution of hot water and dish soap. Wet the stain and let it sit for a few minutes to soften the paint. Be careful not to over-wet the stain so you don't soak the pad underneath. Then, use a butter knife to remove as much of the paint as you can, adding more solution as necessary. If the paint doesn't soften, you can try using a handheld steamer.
  • Latex paints are water soluble. Use the same method as above.
  • For oil-based paints, use a steamer to soften the stain. Apply the steam directly to the stain, and simultaneously pick at the stain with a pin or needle to break it up. Continue until stain lifts as much as possible. Then, dab a cloth with nail polish remover, hydrogen peroxide, or paint thinner, and blot. Let the carpet dry. If the stain remains, you can trim the tips to remove any leftover paint as a last resort.
NOTE: Nail polish remover, hydrogen peroxide, and paint thinner can cause discoloration. If you are using this method, test it first in a hidden place. 

You can also try using Goo Gone and a putty knife to lift as much of the dried paint as possible. If nothing works, you can also try commercial carpet stain remover. 

Two rules for removing paint

No matter what type of paint stain you're working with, follow these two golden rules:

  1. Always blot—never scrub. Scrubbing will push the stain deeper into the carpet fibers.
  2. Only use white cloths. Colored rags or cloths can transfer their dyes back into your carpet. Paper towels work well if you don't have a supply of white rags. 

How to protect your carpet from paint spills

Of course, the best way to manage paint spills is to avoid them in the first place. Here's how to protect your carpet from spills:

  1. Measure the room. This will help you purchase the correct amount of supplies. 
  2. Accumulate your supplies. You'll need: 2-inch wide masking or painter's tape, enough plastic drop cloths to cover the floor, a marker, a small flathead screwdriver, and a putty knife. 
  3. Starting at the doorway, mask around the edge of the carpet. Lay tape in 1 foot strips. Using the putty knife, tuck the tape over the edge of the carpet under the baseboard trim as you work.
  4. Lay down plastic sheets, taking care to overlap the edges. 
  5. Secure the plastic sheets by taping them to the first layer of tape you applied. Tape each plastic sheet together.


There's no use crying over spilled paint. Whether you're dealing with wet or dry paint, it is possible to lift the stain. The best method depends on the type of paint you are lifting, but in general, you will need to:

  • Scrape away any dried paint with a butter knife or plastic spoon.
  • Blot the stain with water, a solution of water and dish soap, or stronger cleaners for oil-based paint stains. Never scrub a paint stain.

Getting ready to move, or in the process of settling into your new home?