How To Get Dried Paint Out Of Carpet

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I learned how to get dried paint out of carpet, along with other stains, the day before an appraiser visited as part of our refinancing process. When you see the results below, you’ll know why I just had to share it with you!

You CAN Get Rid of Old Carpet Stains

My carpets were over twenty years old. The previous homeowners had waited until their kids were grown and off to college before replacing their stained, beige carpets with ivory ones.

That was great for an older couple, of course, and the floors looked amazing when they decided to sell the house. We knew when buying it that those carpets wouldn’t stay pristine for long, but I had no idea how hard my kids would be on them.

Replacing Carpeting is Expensive!

After five or six years here, the floors were looking awful, so we got a few estimates on the cost to replace close to 3,000 square feet of carpeting.

When the numbers came back, we decided to follow the example of the homeowners before us and live with the carpets until the kids moved out on their own.

Using putty knife, white rags, and iron to get dried paint and other stains out of carpet

These Steps Got ALL of the Stains Out

The good news? I got all of the mystery stains and dried paint stains out of the carpeting. All of them.Every. Single. One. And it only took a day!

Here’s how I did it.

How to get dried paint out of carpet from HousewifeHowTos
5 from 1 vote

How to Get Dried Paint and Old Stains Out of Carpeting

Follow these steps to safely remove old stains from your carpets and get them looking like new.
Active Time4 hrs
Drying Time1 d
Total Time1 d 4 hrs
Course: homemade cleaner
Yield: 1 Clean Carpet
Author: Katie Berry


  • Vacuum Cleaner (with attachments)
  • Carpet Shampooer
  • Clothes Iron or Steam Mop
  • Spray bottle
  • Many white cloth rags
  • Scrub Brush


To Remove Dried Paint

  • Goo-Gone
  • Putty knife
  • White cloth rags
  • Liquid dish soap (I used Dawn Original)
  • Hot Water
  • Spray bottle

To Remove Pet Stains

  • Household Ammonia
  • Hot Water
  • Spray Bottle
  • Scrub Brush
  • Many white cloth rags

To Remove Mystery Carpet Stains

  • Clothes Iron (Or steam mop)
  • Water
  • Many white cloth rags

To Shampoo Carpet After Stain Removal

  • Carpet Shampooer
  • Hot Water
  • Distilled White Vinegar (do not substitute other kinds of vinegar)
  • Carpet Shampoo



  • Spray the paint stain with Goo Gone. Wait 5 minutes then gently scrape up loosened paint using the putty knife. Do this gently, so you are not tearing the carpet fibers or pulling it out. Wipe the edge of your putty knife with a clean rag often as you lift away old paint.
  • If the paint does not come up easily, wait another 5 minutes and try again. You may need repeated applications to get up all of the paint.
  • Fill the spray bottle with hot water and add a couple drops of liquid dish soap. Gently swirl to combine, then spray the area with this mixture. Do not spray excessively, though. Drenching the carpet pad can cause mold and mildew.
  • Dab the area with a clean white cloth to lift away paint residue. (White cloths work best because they don't transfer dyes back onto your carpet.) Do not rub — you're looking to transfer paint from the carpet to the cloth. Be sure you rotate the rag as you work, so you're constantly working with a clean area and not smearing paint back on the rug's surface.
  • Proceed with the methods below to remove other carpet stains if needed, or skip to the instructions for shampooing your carpet if you've removed all of the stains.


  • Open the windows! You'll be working with household ammonia, which has a very strong smell. Adequate ventilation is essential.
  • To a clean spray bottle, add 1 cup hot water and 2 tablespoons household ammonia. Swirl to combine. Spray this mixture lightly onto the pet stain. Do not drench the area — you don't want to soak the carpet pad.
  • After lightly spraying the area, gently work the mixture into the carpet fibers using a scrub brush. Take care not to rub too vigorously — you don't want to damage the carpet — just ensure that the spray is coating the strands on all sides, from top to bottom.
  • Wait 1 hour then use clean white rags to blot the area. Do not rub — you're looking to transfer the stain from the carpet to your rag, so rotate your cloth to ensure you're consistently working with a clean area. You may need to respray and blot to lift away all of the stain.
  • Once you've lifted the stain, place a dry, clean white cloth over the area and press down firmly with both hands — or stand on it — to remove as much moisture as possible.
  • If you have no further dried carpet stains to get rid of, proceed to the section on shampooing your carpet. If you have cats, do not skip the shampooing step or the lingering ammonia may encourage them to use that spot to do their business.


  • This step works like a professional carpet steamer to reactivate then lift away old stains like spilled coffee, food, or other stains you can't identify.
  • Open the windows! The household ammonia used in this step can be overpowering without adequate ventilation, so be sure your windows are open to let in some fresh air.
  • In a clean spray bottle, combine 1 cup hot water and 2 tablespoons household ammonia. Swirl and then lightly spray the stain with this mixture.
  • Fill your clothes iron (or steam mop) with water and turn it to the steam setting.
  • Place a clean white rag over the stain and iron it, keeping the iron in constant motion, for 20 seconds or so. Lift, rotate the fabric to a clean spot and repeat. (If you’re using a steam mop, keep the mop moving as you run it over the stain. Letting it stay in one place too long can damage the glue on the carpet’s backing as well as the flooring beneath.)
  • Once you've removed the stain, proceed immediately to shampooing the carpet. If you have cats, it's especially important that you do not delay or skip this step, or the scent of ammonia may lead them to do their business on your carpet.


  • On the first pass, fill your carpet cleaner's tank with plain water only. This step helps rinse away any Goo Gone, soap, or water left in the carpet. Repeat suction passes and do them slowly to extract as much moisture out of the carpet as possible.
  • Let the carpet dry overnight (keeping any cats out of the area) or speed up the process using fans.
  • The second pass neutralizes ammonia and dissolves any remaining residues on your carpet, leaving it clean and soft. To perform this step, combine equal parts VERY hot water and white distilled vinegar in your carpet shampooer's tank. (Do not use apple cider vinegar, which contains pectins that may attract household pests.)
  • Go over your carpet at a right angle to the direction you used on the first pass. Work very slowly during extraction, so you get as much moisture out of the carpet as possible.
  • Let the carpet dry overnight and then vacuum it thoroughly to fluff the fibers. Enjoy your fresh, clean carpet!
Photos showing before and after removing dried paint from carpet and other old stains

Admittedly, it was a lot of work getting all the old stains, including the dried paint out of my carpet. It took most of a day to do one room, but a lot of that involved waiting for products to do their job or waiting for the carpet to dry.

Still, it would take several months, if not a year, to save up the money to buy new carpeting. So I think the result was worth it. We now have good-looking carpets again and can wait for the kids to move out before we replace our flooring. That’s a relief.

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    1. Thank you, Donna, but I’ve got to admit: I awed myself on that one. If I’d had even the tiniest notion the stains would come out that well, I’d have done this a long time ago!

  1. We have a stain in our living room carpet that the previous owners giant dog left. When you clean it the stain goes away but returns after a couple of weeks. Has me puzzled why it takes so long to reappear and how to get rid of it for good!!!

    1. Hi Michele! Stains come back on carpets for one of two reasons. Either there’s soap residue still in the carpet (attracting dirt) or the stain got all the way down to the pad and is wicking back to the carpet surface again.

      To deal with the first cause, vacuum the carpet thoroughly then use a steam cleaning machine. Skip the soap, and add 1/4 c. white vinegar gallon of hot water instead. Go over the spot repeatedly, making sure to suction the liquid up well. (Even better, follow the steamer with a wet vac to really get the cleaning solution out.) Repeat as needed until the stain stops returning.

      Dealing with wicking requires getting all of the stain out of the carpet, all the way down to the pad below. Use the vinegar cleaning method described above, then dab at it with a white cloth like I show in the picture in this entry. Keep the spot moist while you’re working, and change cloths repeatedly. (Alternatively, fold up a fluffy white towel and put it on the spot, cover the towel with plastic, and put something heavy on top of it. Let sit for an hour before changing the towel for a clean one.)

      You may have to clean the area repeatedly, and you’ll probably go through a lot of cloths, but eventually you’ll get the pet stain completely out.

      Good luck!

  2. I have some pet stains in our carpet, this is very timely for me. How in the world do you know how to do what you do? Genius!

  3. Thanks, Danyelle! Dried paint seemed like one of those stains I’d never get out. I’m so happy that my carpet looks good again!

  4. You’re quite welcome. I’m glad someone can learn from my miserable day of cleaning carpet stains!

  5. I know what you mean, Virginia. If we hadn’t had the appraiser coming, I wouldn’t have bothered. At some point, a carpet is simply so old that it makes more sense to replace it than try to fix it.

  6. Fantastic tips! I am now going to attempt the spill of purple paint I found on our carpet on Easter. My niece was over the day before and went downstairs to look for something of hers and either ‘forgot’ to tell me she accidentally knocked over a cup full of house paint or didn’t know she did it, then didn’t pick it up, or wipe it up. Now, I have an inch thick pile of paint dried on my 1 year old carpet (in a room we just had redone and haven’t gotten the opportunity to even use yet)! I was so upset that I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and decided to not even talk about it until today because it was already dry and I didn’t want to ruin our family time. But now, it must be dealt with, so I am praying that some of your solutions work, because the other ones I’ve come across I know wouldn’t cut it! Any other suggestions would be appreciated!

  7. Amazing!! Great tip!! I was desperate since we are going to put the house up for sale and we recently painted the house and of course paint got on the carpet (a lot of paint) and was going to resort to getting new carpet put in because I had no idea what else to do! Thanks again you have saved me from spending pointlessly!!

  8. I`m going to try this and i so hope it works.The only thing is i dont know is what kind of red paint it is. I got the rugs from a friend that,got them from a older house she was remodeling. I want to clean them and use them because they match and that would work great for what i have in mind. Thank you for the ideal ! Ginger

  9. You are amazing. We are military and the housing charges for every little thing. I just got paint and gummy fruit snacks out of the carpet right before I move!

    1. That’s my current dilemma. We’re in military housing and I recently painted our bedroom a dark gray color, but the roller brush jammed and left drops of paint all around the perimeter of the room. I knew trying to wipe it up would make it worse so I just let it dry. We have about a year before we move out so I’m going to try to get it out asap. I’ve heard horror stories about how much housing cost to cover a small carpet stain I could only imagine how much they would charge for the entire room.

    2. Ugh, military housing charges a small fortune for carpet stains. I remember that all too well from my past. In the future, try to get as much fresh paint up as you can with a putty knife (or even a Tupperware lid or some other flat thing). That’ll leave you FAR less to deal with once it dries. But, yep, this method will get old stains out. Best of luck to you, and thank you for your service!

  10. I admire your tenacity but for me……I’m gonna replace the carpet….Not that I have money…I just don’t have that kind of energy…Thanks for the suggestions though

  11. primer spilled on our colored carpet. I am excited to try your method but curious if the googone will discolor the carpet?

    1. It didn’t discolor mine, but it’s important that you follow the other steps and get the Googone out. 🙂

    2. I use Goo Gone all the time on our clothing when we get mysterious set in stains. It’s not discolored anything yet.

    3. Goo Gone is fantastic at removing stains. I haven’t tried it on clothing yet, but now I’ll have to!

  12. Thank you so much for this, I know its an old post but you came up as the second site on Google and I bless you for this! I just got done painting our hallway and lifted the sheets to find many spots of paint as they had seeped thru my sheets I layed down! Also we had Stanley steamers come in a few weeks ago, ladies save your money, no stains were removed just top level soil n dirt, stains that took me sixty seconds to scrub out myself with a tooth brush and some soapy water were not even removed by them. I have four boys so I have a feeling ill be banking this knowledge in my head for future use, thank you so much for sharing this, your a life saver!!

    1. You’re quite welcome, Melissa! Be sure to check the other carpet stain-removal entries I linked within this one for additional tips. With my pets and family, I have to rely on these all the time!

      P.S. I wholly agree about Stanley Steamer. Plus, once you have them visit they call you every month to try and convince you they need to come clean your carpets again — and your air ducts. Grrr.

  13. Would this work on green food coloring? I made “slime” with my son and ended up finding a dried up glob of it in his floor. Thanks!

    1. It should. The ammonia and iron trick gets out many dyes. Be sure to scrape up and vacuum away as much slime as possible first.

  14. I used to be the Interior Designer for a hotel chain that serves a Continental Breakfast. Our cleaning people were having a difficult time removing coffee stains from the carpeting. Our Operations Dept. asked me to contact the manufacturer to find out how to best clean these stains. When I called, the woman there asked me if it was regular or decaf. Lol. Apparently, when the coffee bean goes through the decaffination process it bleaches the bean. Dye is then added to make it look like coffee. Of course brown dye would be very difficult to get out of carpeting!

    1. I had no idea they added dye to decaf coffee! That’s yet another reason to dislike it as far as I’m concerned.

  15. Katie you are my hero! I am selling my house with area rugs strategically placed to cover a multitude of stains that no matter what I did in the past never went away. I wish I had taken a before picture of the paint stain that is no longer in my upstairs hallway so you could show people that your tip really does work. If I can get Urban Putty (Sherwin Williams color that is a dark greyish brown) out of my off white 18 year old carpet it will work on anything. Yes it takes time but I was sick thinking that I was going to have to buy carpet for the new owners to enjoy.

    Next step… tackling the pet stains from my ex husband’s dog that had a dainty disposition….

    You are a lifesaver. Thank you so much!

    1. It should, but I don’t have first-hand experience with using it on spray paint. I can’t see why there would be any difference, though.

    1. No. Ammonia has no bleaching properties. Bleach or hydrogen peroxide would bleach the carpet, by ammonia does not, as you can see in the many photos above.

  16. Hi Katie. I’m from Australia. Is Goo Gone known by any other name?? Or what would be a similar product? Just can’t find it. Thanks in advance. Cindy

    1. Hi Cindy! Goof Off is similar and available at Bunning’s. Dylon also makes a line of products that might work. Best of luck!

    1. You should always spot test cleaning solutions in an inconspicuous area, Amanda. That said, I’ve done this in my car on dark gray carpet and on my multi-colored entry rug and didn’t have fading problems in either area.

  17. Katie,

    Thanks so much for this! I’m moving out of my apartment and have spray paint stains in one corner of the whole room. I was told that since I’ve been living here for 10+ years the landlord shouldn’t freak out, and just get new carpet.

    But he freaked out.

    Will the ammonia help with these paint stains? I tried the Goo Gone and the Dawn/Water mixture, but even after 15 minutes of scrubbing nothing was coming out.


  18. Hi Katie,
    Great stuff here. I have tried the ammonia mixed with dishwashing liquid and white vinegar. Got most paint out but the deep embedded paint just will not lift. This must have been where paint spilt onto the carpet in blobs and was not blotted but left to set in and dry. I am at my wits end as this needs to be done before someone moves in and furniture delivered. I live in the UK and cannot get Goo Gone, Borax or Dawn. Any idea what I can use which is readily available in the UK and cost effective. I even hired a carpet cleaning machine to give the carpets a new lease on life. Please help with what I can do with these dried blobs of set in white paint. Not sure if t was oil based paint. What is your book called? Ever in your debt. Patience

    1. Hello ElishaJoy1,
      Either “Sunlight” or “Fairy” dishwashing liquid will work; they’re the UK equivalent of Dawn. (Same company, I believe.) Borax is a bit more difficult but baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) is an acceptable substitute in many DIY cleaning recipes. Also, “Goof Off” is the UK version of “Goo Gone” and should be readily available in hardware stores. Based on your description of the paint stains, I suspect you’ll have the most luck with the ammonia and ironing trick. Best of luck!
      P.S. I have several books out, but the one you’re probably referring to is “30 Days to a Clean and Organized House” which is available on Amazon in the UK here. Thank you for asking!

  19. Hi Katie,
    Sorry about second posting. I have a stove and the wall around the stove looks disgusting from as you can imagine from old cooking stains. I have tried everything to clean this area. There are what appear to be permanent brown marks whish won’t shift. There is actually wall paper which was painted over. I recently discovered this. How and what do I use to get this area clean again please. maybe I will be able to start cooking again soon.
    Many thanks


    1. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to remove grease stains from wallpaper. My best advice is to replace the wallpaper with a different one, or with tile.

  20. My husband and I bought a house with white carpet. We replaced most of the carpet with hardwood floors before moving in but couldn’t afford to do the entire house (as it is 4058 sq ft). I’ve tried everything to get the small stains here and there up and nothing has worked. I’d seen this cleaner recipe before and always thought it was too simple to be true. I finally tried it today and am amazed at how well it works. Not only did it clean up coffee stains in my office and cat puke from the den it also removed the sticky residue left behind on my pedistals (from the tape the movers used to keep the doors closed during transport) with a quick spray and very little elbow grease. I’m using this clener for everything! Thanks for posting!

  21. Thank you for this post! I used Goof Off followed by Dawn mixed with hot water. I am wondering if I should try Ammonia too in order to get the last flecks of paint out of the carpet. I really wish I had pictures. This method worked wonders on the basement carpet of the house we bought. I haven’t cleaned the carpet yet due to still being in the process of removing paint stains. Thanks again!

    1. Glad to have helped, Kristy. Getting those last bits of paint flecks out is tedious but it sure beats having to pay for new carpet!

  22. Very impressive! When I bought my home, there were some small bleached spots near the laundry room. Do you know of any solutions? Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi,
      Shannon! Unfortunately, once carpeting is bleached there’s no easy solution. If the carpeting is in otherwise good shape, and it’s nylon or wool, you might try looking for a carpet dye that matches the rest of it. Regular clothing dye doesn’t work, though! Best of luck.

      P.S. I should also point out that there are companies who will dye your entire carpet for you. So if it’s in good shape, and you’re interested in a color change, it might be worth the expense!

  23. Hi Katie,
    I was just wondering if Goof Off would ruin coloured carpets. My boyfriend dropped white eggshell paint on our brand new grey wool carpet and I’m looking for a way to get rip of it without damaging the colour of the carpet. Thank you x

    1. There’s nothing in Goof Off which would lighten carpet, but you’ll want to be sure and shampoo the carpet afterward to remove any residue.

  24. I once spilled an entire quart of teal green paint on the taupe carpet of my first rental apartment. In a panic, I called my mother, an artist, to ask if she knew how to get paint out. She told me to dab up as much of the paint as I could using dry paper towels (dab not rub) then to go to the store and buy a ton of rubbing alcohol. Then pour the rubbing alcohol on the paint spill until the whole area was saturated with rubbing alcohol. Then put a rag or a stack of paper towels down over the whole spill. On top of the paper towels put a plastic bag, and on top of the plastic bag put a heavy object (I used a couple of my college text books). I had to reapply the alcohol a couple of times, but it worked like a charm and got even the completely dried on paint out.

  25. Hi, thanks for the enlightenments… But I was wondering if one could substitute ammonia for white vinegar in the procedure

  26. This is an awesome guide to removing carpet stains. Thanks for sharing this free advice! Now, I don’t have to cringe at stains on my carpet or rug. Just wonderful!

  27. I wish I could add a picture to my comment. But your trick for paint worked wonderfully! It took me 6 hours. I had a huge paint mess. But it did all come out! Thank you so much!!

  28. 5 stars
    I hope this works, I’ve been living in my townhouse for 8 months. And I was allowed to paint my oldest daughter’s room. my 2nd oldest happened to get into the room, and painted the carpet, I haven’t got to the point of getting it off yet.

  29. Thank you for these tips and tricks! Accidentally dropped paint and thought there was no hope…will be trying this goo gone method tomorrow! I have hope 🙂

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