Cleaning carpets stained with acrylic, gloss, or emulsion paint

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DIY disaster I need to know how to remove paint from carpet. Given how much time we all spend at home, doing some DIY or getting creative with your acrylics and chalk paint is a great idea, until you start painting without laying down anything to protect the floor. You now have paint on your carpet, have spent the last 45 minutes to an hour verbally berating yourself, and need to know - quickly - how to get the paint out of the carpet before anyone else notices or, worse, before it dries.

Friends, don't worry. We're here to help you correct this mistake, whether you've been using gloss paint (oil-based) or emulsion paint (water-based) on your walls. or if you've been dabbling in art with acrylic paints (which contain plastic particles) or chalk paint (which contains calcium carbonate powder).

  • Once you've gotten out of the woods, learn how to clean carpet like a pro.

How to Remove Dried Paint from Carpet

This is very simple, especially with acrylic and latex paints, which dry quickly. So, if you let your paint dry into the carpet while panicking (and furiously googling) how to remove it, or if you only just noticed it (aka someone or the kids spilt paint on the carpet and conveniently forgot to tell you), don't worry, there is still hope.

  1. To begin, use a knife to gently scrape away as much as possible without damaging the fibers of your carpet.  
  2. Then grab your best vacuum cleaner and vacuum up all the debris you can.
  3. Following that, we recommend using a steam cleaner to remove as much of the stain from the carpet as possible. If you don't have one, saturate the paint stain with water and use a wet/dry vacuum (or your cloth and elbow grease) to remove any remaining debris.
  4. Blot the stain with white spirit after that. For a more natural alternative, mix white vinegar and water (1/4 teaspoon vinegar to 3-4 C). water) or substitute dish soap for the vinegar
  5. This will help loosen the paint from the carpet, allowing you to scrub the area with a stiff brush.
  6. Continue scrubbing and applying your solution until the stain begins to lift.  
  • Observing other discolored areas in the vicinity See our stain removal guide.

pink paint on carpet

(Photo courtesy of Getty Images)

How to Remove Gloss Paint from Carpet

The first step should be to manually remove as much of the paint as possible with a scraper or a similar tool. Remember to completely wipe your tool after each scoop before repeating the process. Keep in mind that you want to lift the paint out of the carpet rather than spread it.

Next, take a paper towel and gently blot away as much of the paint as you can, taking care not to spread it further.

After that, you'll need to use white spirit to attempt to remove the stain. Because gloss is typically oil-based, you'll need to use a solvent such as paint thinner (white spirit), acetone, or hydrogen peroxide to effectively remove it, though dishwashing soap can also be used.  

Removing gloss paint with a solvent

Dampen a clean cloth or kitchen roll with white spirit solution, acetone, or hydrogen peroxide and gently blot the affected area. This will loosen the paint and make it easier to remove. You'll probably need a lot of cloth or kitchen roll for this because you'll want to avoid spreading the paint further once it's saturated.

After removing the paint with white spirit, clean the carpet with soap and water. Baking soda can also be used to mask the odor of white spirit.

Dishwashing soap is used to remove gloss/oil paint.

This is fine for light patches, but the above method is better for embedded paint. Soak a clean cloth in cold water with a few drops of dish soap such as Dawn or Fairy Liquid (UK equivalent). Repeat as needed by pressing this onto the paint traces and blotting off excess water.

  • How to clean paint brushes that are also filthy

How to Remove Emulsion Paint from Carpet

Because emulsion is water-based, it should be easy to remove from carpet with a simple soap detergent and plenty of water.

  1. The first step is to manually remove as much paint as possible with a scraper or a similar tool (a spoon or kitchen spatula will suffice). If you don't have this type of tool, you can blot away as much paint as possible with kitchen roll.
  2. Next, prepare your water and detergent solution, and then apply it with a clean cloth or kitchen roll. Allow a few minutes for the stain to soften further before blotting. Remember that you want the cloth to soak up the paint, so it will need to be replaced on a regular basis.
  3. You can also keep pulling up the paint stain with your knife or pin, adding more solution as you go.
  4. If you're still not getting anywhere and have a steam cleaner on hand, try using it to lift the paint out of the carpet.
  • Best steam cleaners for deep cleaning carpet fibers

How to Remove Chalk Paint from Carpet

Chalk paint, a recent DIY favorite, is no longer limited to the classroom, but it also does not belong on your carpet. Try to get to it while it is still wet, and there are two methods for lifting it: one with vinegar and one with dish detergent.

How to Remove Chalk Paint from Carpet Using Vinegar:

  1. With a scraper and a paper towel, clean up what you can.
  2. Working from the outside in, blot the stain with white vinegar.  
  3. Continue blotting with a clean cloth until the stain is completely removed.
  4. Rinse with warm water and thoroughly dry.

How to Remove Chalk Paint from Carpet Using Dish Soap

  1. As previously stated, remove as much paint from the carpet's surface as possible.
  2. Then, using an electric whisk (if you have one) or a lot of elbow grease, combine 1/4 cup liquid dish soap with one cup warm water to make a lot of foam.
  3. Apply the foam to the carpet and leave it for about five minutes.
  4. If you have a wet/dry vacuum, vacuum the area or wipe up the loose paint debris with a clean cotton cloth.
  5. Allow to dry completely after rinsing with cold water and repeating if necessary.  

Lynsey Crombie, also known as the Queen of Clean (Opens in a new window) 'If the paint stain is dry, use hot water and a little washing up liquid,' says After the paint has softened, use a knife to scrape it out. 'This should also work on black or another colored paint.'

More advice for cleaning up paint on your carpet

  • Snip the stain: You could also take a pair of scissors to your carpet and attempt to trim the paint on the tips of the carpet fibres, snipping just below the paint.
  • Dry completely: After stain treatment, apply a paper towel to the area and lay a book or something heavy down to absorb any excess moisture.  
  • Consider rearranging your space so that a piece of furniture sits on top of the paint stain. A coffee table or foot stool in the middle of the room could be your new best friend.
  • It's as simple as that: don't leave your kids alone during arts and crafts hour and cover your carpet when you start your next DIY project.

That won't be the last time you forget to put down the newspaper, right?

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