When you're painting the inside of your home, it's not uncommon to end up with a few paint stains on the carpet. It's easiest to remove these stains by blotting them up before they have a chance to fully dry, as the paint is still liquid and can be easily picked up by a white washcloth. If you don't notice a stain for a while, however, then the paint will dry on the carpet fibers. Thankfully, it's still fairly easy to remove dried paint from a carpet. It's a two-step process that involves removing as much of the dried paint as possible and then liquefying the remaining dried paint. To learn how to remove dried paint from a carpet, read on.
Break Apart the Dried Paint and Vacuum It Up
It's important to remove as much paint from the carpet as possible before you liquefy it with a solvent since the liquefied paint will be able to spread. If there's too much paint left on the carpet, you may make the stain worse.
Take a pair of tweezers and use them to break up the dried paint into small chunks, and pull apart any carpet fibers that have become stuck together with dried paint. Once you've broken up most of the paint with the tweezers, thoroughly vacuum the carpet in order to get rid of the dried paint chunks.
Dissolve the Paint and Mop It Up With a Scrub Brush
Check the can of paint you were using to determine if it's water-based paint or oil-based paint. This refers to the type of solvent used to turn the paint into a liquid, which affects what you'll need to use in order to liquefy the dried paint.
If the dried paint on your carpet is water-based, you can use hot water in order to liquefy it. Soak a washcloth in hot water, wring it out over the dried paint, and let it sit for a few minutes. This will liquefy water-based paint unless the stain is very old. If the paint has been dry for a long time, you may need to use rubbing alcohol on the stain instead of water to liquefy it.
Once the paint has been liquefied, you can mop it up using a bristled scrub brush. Start at the outside of the stain and move the scrub brush towards the center of the stain, which will prevent it from spreading.
For oil-based paint stains, you'll need to use mineral spirits. This is a refined form of turpentine, which is a solvent that easily liquefies oil-based paint. Before you use mineral spirits on your carpet, however, it's important to make sure that the mineral spirits won't discolor or damage it — it can cause some carpet dyes to leach out of the fibers.
Soak a cotton ball in the mineral spirits and dab it onto a spot into the corner of the room. Wait ten minutes, then press a white washcloth onto the area where you applied the mineral spirits. If none of the dye from the carpet transfers to the white washcloth, then mineral spirits are safe to use on your carpet.
If mineral spirits dissolve the dye in your carpet, then you may have to use a weaker solvent like rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover. These can also liquefy oil-based paint, but they're not as effective as mineral spirits — you'll likely have to apply them to the dried paint and scrub the stain multiple times before you're able to get it out of the carpet.
Once you've found a safe solvent to use on the dried paint, you can mop it up using the same technique used for water-based paint. Sweep a scrub brush over the area, working from the outside towards the center to avoid spreading the stain.
If you can't manage to get the dried paint out of your carpet or don't want to risk damaging it using the wrong solvent, call a professional carpet cleaning service and have them remove the stain. Professional carpet cleaners have access to a wider variety of solvents, including citrus-based solvents that are gentle on carpeting. Professional steam cleaning machines are also excellent at removing water-based paint since the steam can dissolve and remove the dried paint at the same time.