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!
Now, before we get too far into this, I want to make something clear: the photos below of the dried paint and other stains on my carpet are from 2012 when my kids were still young.
Phone cameras were even more awful than the wall color back then, but I’m not updating the pics because as soon as my youngest started college I replaced all of our carpets with hard flooring. The carpets were 20 years old, so it was time for them to move out, too.
Cleaning Fresh Paint off Carpet
If it’s a fresh paint spill, scoop up as much as you can from your carpet using a paper plate or dust pan, then lay some paper towels over the spot to absorb more. If you have a wet/dry vac, this is a great time to use it.
Don’t rub or try blotting at this point — you don’t want to drive the paint into the carpet pad. Instead, sprinkle the mess with baking soda and let that absorb the wet paint for an hour or so then scoop up the clumps. Now, you’re ready to continue.
Getting Dried Paint out of Carpets
1. Spray the area. To remove dried paint from carpet, you need to first to loosen the paint. I sprayed it with a product called Goo Gone, but warm vinegar or a 50-50 mixture of fabric softener and warm water can work, too.
Use a light touch when removing carpet stains: if you get the area too wet, the stain will travel to your carpet pad then wick its way back up as your carpet dries.
2. Wait and lift. Wait about 5 minutes to start loosening the dried paint, then gently lift away what you can with a putty knife, rubber spatula, or something similar. Don’t fight it, though: if it doesn’t come up easily, wait a little longer and try again.
3. Wipe. Once you’ve got all the dried paint spots out, either shampoo your carpet or wipe the area with a warm, soapy rag then a clean damp one to get rid of any remaining residue.
Get Old Pet Stains out of Carpet
At this point, it was time to tackle the cat yack, coffee spills and wine splatters that soapy water hadn’t touched.
1. For this, I used household ammonia. This is my least favorite cleaning product but, since ammonia is alkaline and a solvent, it does a brilliant job removing acidic stains like those from food, coffee and pet messes. But first, I threw open the windows because household ammonia reeks.
2. Spray it on and work it in. I used a mixture of 2 tablespoons ammonia to 1 cup of hot water which immediately started lightening the stain. Then I got to work with my scrub brush so the ammonia coated all the carpet fibers, top to bottom. After that, I let it sit for an hour while I went outside for some fresh air.
3. Blot and wipe. Next, I grabbed another white cloth to blot the area and pressed it in with both hands to lift away the mess. Several changes of cloths later — plus a few times when I stood on the rags just to get up as much moisture as possible — and the stains were basically gone. A soapy cloth followed by a clean damp one got up the ammonia residue, and it was onto the next step.
Removing Old Mystery Stains from Carpet
Last but not least, it was time to remove the lingering mystery stains. I’d already tried cleaning these with soapy water, and that’s a key thing to remember: that step starts the stain loosening process. Without it, you run the risk of setting the stain as soon as you apply heat.
- Get the iron out. While the area is still damp with soapy water, turn your iron on and set the steam on low.
- Put a wet cloth on it. Spread a damp white washrag over the spot and start ironing it, keeping the iron constantly moving. Every 20 seconds or so, turn the cloth to a fresh spot. This basically works like a steam cleaning your carpet, transferring the stain to the cloth.
- Repeat as needed. Reapply soapy water as needed to keep the stain loose and work your iron until the discoloration is gone.
Next, time to wrap it up and remove any cleaning residue, so your carpet looks fresh as new.
Stick with plain water in your carpet cleaner’s tank for the first pass. 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 it dry overnight, or speed it up with fans if you’re in a hurry.
Then shampoo your carpet again with a 50-50 solution of hot water and white vinegar. Go over your carpet at a right angle to your first pass, and work slowly during extraction to get as much moisture out of the carpet as possible.
The next day, vacuum your carpet to fluff the fibers and enjoy how great it looks!
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.
But in a sign of how well these steps worked, the guys who laid the hard floors in 2018 suggested I sell the old stuff to the used carpet store. It took finding a date tag on the bottom for them to realize the carpets were older than them, and in better shape, too.