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How to get paint out of a carpet

Ciaran McGuire by Ciaran McGuire

If you’ve spilt paint on your carpet while decorating or getting creative with the kids, then it can seem like the end of the world. But try these simple methods using things you might already have around the house and you’ll hopefully be able to remove the stain entirely.


Before attempting any kind of cleaning, you should consult your carpet care guide. Different materials and carpet types react in different ways so it’s important to check the following methods are appropriate and won’t damage your flooring.

Water-based paint
The method you need to use to remove your paint will vary depending on whether it is oil or water-based paint you have spilt.  If the paint tin recommends washing brushes in warm water, then you know your paint is water-based.

In either case, acting fast is key as wet paint is much easier to remove. Firstly, if it is a large amount you’ve spilt, scoop up any excess with an old spoon. Then use paper towels to soak up the bulk of the remaining paint. Never rub as you not only risk spreading the paint, but damaging your carpet. Gentle dabbing is the best technique.

Next, soak a cloth in white distilled vinegar and dab the stained area. Continue to soak clean sections of the cloth and repeat the process until all of the paint has been removed.

Finish by cleaning with warm, soapy water. Once dry, vacuum to get your carpet looking in tip-top condition.


Oil-based paint
The marker of an oil-based paint is that you wash your brushes with a solvent such as white spirits.

If the paint is still wet, as with the water-based instructions, scoop up any excess with an old spoon. Then soak up the remaining paint with layers of paper towers. As oil-based paint needs a solvent to remove it, a cloth soaked with white spirits will be your best form of defence here.

One important thing to note – only dab this cloth on the paint itself, not the carpet, or you may remove the colour, and always refer to your carpet care guidelines.

If the paint is dry, try using a steamer. Let the appliance heat up to high and then steam the area. This method is a laborious process that involves using either tweezers or a DIY knife to scrape off the softened paint fibre by fibre.

Dried-on oil paint is incredibly difficult to remove and if the above methods haven’t worked, you may need to call in a professional carpet cleaning company. Always read the label of any products you use, and be careful when using harsh cleaning products on wool carpets in particular.