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.
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!
But it was, admittedly, a lot of work. Here’s how I did it.
How to Get Old Stains out of Carpet
Getting Dried Paint Stains out of Carpet
First, I used some awesome stuff called Goo Gone (a/k/a “Goof Off” for U.K. readers). Having used it in the past on crusty paintbrushes, I knew it worked on dried paint and figured I’d give it a try on the carpet.
Remove the Dried Paint from the Carpet’s Surface
After spraying it on, I got out a putty knife to lift up as much of the dried-on paint as I could. This is a tricky step because you don’t want to tear the carpet fibers as you work.
So, be patient and let the Goo Gone loosen the dried paint on the carpet’s surface before you begin scraping it away. Wipe your putty knife frequently, too, so you’re working with a clean edge.
Get the Paint Stains out of Carpet Fibers
After the dried stuff on the carpet surface came away, it was time to start working on the stained carpet fibers themselves. This step also begins removing the Goo Gone, too.
I sprayed a mixture of hot water and Dawn Original (Fairy for U.K. readers) on the carpet. Do not spray excessively — soaking the pad can cause mildew.
Once sprayed, I dabbed at it with many, many, many white cloths, transferring the stains from the carpet to the fabric.
Using a white cloth is essential — colorful cleaning rags might transfer their dyes back to your carpet, making matters worse. An hour later, the dried paint stains were pretty much gone.
Getting Pet Stains Out Of Carpet
Hot water and Dawn didn’t help much with pet stains, so I used one of my least favorite (and yet one of the most useful) cleaning chemicals: household ammonia.
1. Open the Windows
Let me warn you: open your windows before opening a bottle of ammonia because that stuff smells awful!
Fortunately, the odor won’t stick around after you’ve finished these steps, but it’s sure unpleasant while you’re working with it.
2. Apply Household Ammonia
- Mix two tablespoons of ammonia in one cup of very hot water and spray it on the unidentified spots.
- Again, it’s crucial not to drench the area, so you don’t soak the pad, but you do want to make sure the ammonia is worked into the carpet fibers. For that, you need a stiff-bristled scrub brush.
- Rub the ammonia in and let it sit for an hour.
3. Blot with White Cleaning Rags
- Blot the ammonia away with clean white rags and go over it with a lightly dampened cloth to neutralize what’s left.
- Place a final clean dry rag over the spot and press down with your hands (or stand on it) to blot up the remaining moisture.
If you have no further dried carpet stains to get rid of, proceed to the section on shampooing your carpet. If you have cats, skipping the shampooing step may encourage them to use that spot to do their business, so don’t skip it!
Getting Other Dried Stains Out Of Carpet
While the Goo Gone will remove dried paint stains, and ammonia eliminates pet stains on carpeting, we still had other “mystery” stains to deal with.
For this step, I decided to emulate a steam cleaner by using my iron. If you have a steam mop, use it. I didn’t, so I reached for my iron and some rags.
1. Grab a Clothing Iron (or Steam Mop)
To get rid of the remaining stains, I used my very favorite trick: ironing them. That’s right, I said iron those stains!
Make sure your iron (or steam mop) is filled with water and set it to steam. I have wool carpets, so I used the highest setting. If yours are nylon or a synthetic blend, use the LOW setting.
- Place a clean white cloth 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.
2. Change the cloths or mop pads frequently
Be sure to change your cloth or mop pad frequently. As the heat and steam work, they will lift the stain out of your carpet and transfer it to your rag.
Continuing to use a dirty rag or mop pad may redeposit the mess back onto your carpet.
Finish by Shampooing Your Carpet
1. Use Plain Water the First Time
Once the stains are gone, it’s time to shampoo the carpet. For this, I used my trusty carpet cleaner.
- On the first pass, fill the tank with plain, hot water. This allows you to remove any Goo Gone, soap, and ammonia. The next step involves using vinegar — and ammonia and vinegar cancel each other out — so it’s important to get that residue out of your carpet before proceeding.
- Be sure to repeat suction passes and do them slowly to extract as much moisture out of the carpet as possible.
2. Let the Carpeting Dry Then Shampoo It
Once you’ve gone over the carpets with plain, hot water and extracted as much moisture as possible with your machine, it may look as if the carpet stains are gone.
It may, however, just be that the stains are hiding and will wick back to the surface as the carpeting dries. So, give them at least a couple of hours — if not overnight — to dry.
Then proceed with shampooing your carpet wall-to-wall. At this point, you can choose to use the product recommended by your carpet cleaner manufacturer, or use these non-toxic carpet shampoo steps to get your rug looking brand new.
Yes, it was a lot of work getting dried paint out of my carpet, along with other old stains. It took most of a day to do one room, though a lot of that was spent waiting for products to do their job.
But it would take several months, if not a year, to save up the money to buy new carpeting. Now, we have good-looking carpets again and can wait for the kids to move out before we replace our flooring. That’s a relief.