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How To Remove Paint Stains

Paint Stain Removal

It's a wonderful and inexpensive way to brighten up a room and bring into the modern era. However, falling paint drops are less than charming. And we don’t have to tell you that having to replace a carpet or rug due to the new green or blue dots takes that quick and inexpensive home improvement project and turns it into an expensive nightmare in the blink of an eye. But don’t despair! It’s possible to remove paint stains from flooring without spending a fortune on either cleaning products or a new floor.

Is The Paint Stain Water-Based or Oil-Based?

The first step to knowing how to treat the paint is knowing if it’s water-based or oil-based paint. The easiest way to find out about this is to read the label on the paint can. Look for the clean-up instructions. If it’s water-based, the directions for clean-up will include instructions for using soap and warm water. If it’s oil-based, the directions will tell you to turn to paint thinner or mineral spirits. This information is key to knowing how to remove those drops (or maybe even a big slosh) of paint.

Oil-Based Paint Stains– Paint Thinner & Mineral Spirits Warning

Oil-based paints are the most difficult to clean since they require paint thinner to clean once dried. These materials should NEVER be used on a hardwood or vinyl floor, as they will completely destroy the finish in the affected area. And using such solvents on carpets or rugs is quite questionable – check any care labels and/or manufacturer’s brochures ahead of time, and test in a very inconspicuous area.

Caution, Wet Paint!

It goes without saying that the best time to remove paint from your flooring is when it’s wet. This will require lots of either white paper towels or the disposable paper rags available at your local paint store and water. The larger the spill, the more of each you will need.

If the spill is on hard flooring, start with a damp towel and wipe up as much of the paint as you can. You should be able to get just about everything up from hard flooring with damp paper towels. If some paint has seeped into joints in the flooring, use a toothpick to scrape it out of the joint.

For carpets and rugs, form a barrier around the paint spill with dry towels. Then douse the stain with clean water. Immediately soak up the water and paint with towels and then discard. You’ll likely have to use new towels for your barrier as well. Continue to douse and sop until the paint is gone. You may need to use a carpet cleaning product at the end to remove the final color remnants, but don’t use one until your wet towels are staying white after blotting the carpet.

Dry Paint on Hard Flooring – Elbow Grease Needed

If the paint has already dried on your hard flooring, it shouldn’t be too difficult to remove. Use a dull knife, the edge of a credit card, a spatula, something with a dull scraping edge to scrape up the paint. In all likelihood, the splatters will lift off fairly easily. We do not recommend using a straight-edge razor because of the possibility of damaging the finish of the flooring.

If you’re left with some paint stain remnants, visit your local home improvement store and ask a flooring specialist for the best heavy-duty cleaning solvent for your type of flooring. Use either one of your white paper towels or disposable paint rags from the previous step and rub this solvent into the flooring. You may have to really put some muscle into it to get that paint ring up, but it should come up eventually.

Dry Paint Carpet Stain Removal Option #1 – Scrub, Scrub, Scrub!

Once the paint is dry on carpet, things become pretty difficult. Your first step should be to attempt to manually remove as much of the dried-on paint as possible using water, an old toothbrush, and maybe even needle nose pliers. Wet the area, and try to see if any of the color will blot up. It’s not likely, but it’s worth a try! Then, use your toothbrush to really scrub the carpet and remove as much of the paint as possible from the carpet fibers. If you have a large goop of dry paint, needle nose pliers are great to squeeze the goop and get it to flex and/or break enough for you to pull it off the carpet fiber. Let the area dry, and then vacuum to see what remains.

Dry Paint Carpet Stain Removal Option #2 – Goof Off

Goof Off is a commercially-available cleanser that you can find at most home improvement stores. It’s great at removing dried-on paint. Unfortunately, it sometimes removes color and finishes as well. We highly recommend that you test your carpet ahead of time to see if the color difference is noticeable. In our experience, Goof Off isn’t a viable option for dark-colored carpets and/or large areas of carpet due to its tendency to change the carpet color, but it’s an option for small areas (i.e., less than the size of a nickel).

Dry Paint Carpet Stain Removal Option #3 – Carpet Beauty Shop

When worst comes to worst, it’s often time to become a carpet stylist and pretend that you own a carpet beauty shop. You’ll need a small pair of sharp scissors, a steady hand, and patience for this task. Get down on the floor and really examine the affected carpet fibers. Often, you’ll find that just the tips of the fibers are paint-coated and not the whole fiber. Select the fiber with the most paint collected on its stem, and clip it out. Clip it as close to the top as possible while still removing the paint-covered portion. After you clip the fiber, step back and look at the carpet to see how much the stain is still visible. Repeat cautiously, removing as few fibers as possible while making the stain appear to have never happened. If you get much beyond 5 fibers, stop and come back later. Unlike a bad haircut, carpet doesn’t grow back in, and you want to ensure that you don’t leave a bald spot that you’ll regret.


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Born and raised in Seattle, Washington, Mrs Clean (Corina Wilson) is not only the owner of the company, but a very busy mother of 3 children.

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Mrs Clean realized long ago, that a clean home is a necessity, not a luxury when we are struggling to find the time in our day to cover the very basic levels of work and/or family obligations. The battle seems to never end... (but that's why we're here to help!)

When Mrs Clean is not busy managing her house cleaning company or running her kids back and forth to their events, she enjoys experimenting with natural and non-toxic cleaners and learning new techniques to remove stains.

She thoroughly enjoys sharing her valuable information with the readers of her blogs and various social media sites.

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