How to Get Oil-based Paint out of Carpet [Wet & Dried Paint Stains]

Painting is a very messy job! Whether you’re giving the walls a new coat or trying out an art project with the kids, any activity with paint will be a messy activity. You’ll get it on your skin, in your hair, on your clothes, and sometimes even on your carpet. When this happens, what is the best thing to do? Getting oil paint out of carpet can be quite a high-effort job. But it’s not impossible, and you should be able to get the job done with the right tools and right methods.

The most important thing you’ll need for cleaning up oil-based paint from your carpet is a cleaning solution that can thin the paint out and allow it to be washed away. Turpentine, rubbing alcohol, vinegar, and citrus solvent are all examples of cleaning agents that can achieve this. You’ll also need to wash the affected area thoroughly with soapy water after using these cleaning agents on your carpet. 

We have five easy methods to introduce today that will fix your oil paint problems in no time, but first, let’s have a look at what exactly makes oil paint troublesome to remove.

how to get oil based paint stains out of carpet

What Makes Oil-based Paint Hard to Remove off Carpet?

The biggest factor that makes oil-based paint difficult to remove off carpet (or any surface, really), is the fact that it’s made out of oil. Oil and water don’t mix, as we all know, and when you try to use water to clean away oil, it resists. 

Oil paint is particularly difficult to remove from carpet because the paint will cling and sink into all the individual fibers of the carpet as soon as it makes contact with them. You can’t just wipe it up neatly like you can on a linoleum floor or kitchen surface. 

Not only is it more difficult to remove from carpet fabric, but you also have to be more careful when removing it, too. If you’re too rough or use chemicals that are too harsh, you’ll end up doing damage to your carpet. 

Another difficult and counter-intuitive element of cleaning oil paint from carpet is the fact that you can’t scrub the stain. If you do, you’ll only spread the paint around and push it deeper into the fabric. As a result, you’ve got yourself a tricky stain that requires gentle and precise treatment—but don’t worry, we’ll get rid of it!

Can You Get Dried Oil-based Paint out of Carpet?

A dried oil paint stain is more difficult to remove than a fresh wet spill, but it can be done. We’ll include some tips for removing dried oil-based paint in our methods listed below, but here are the basics.

You’ll need to start by removing the top layer of paint that is sitting on top of the carpet. You should be able to do this with a scraper tool and tweezers, and you’ll even be able to pull up large chunks with your hands. 

The important thing to remember is to take your time and be as gentle as you can. You don’t want to rip out or damage the carpet fibers. When you’re dealing with a wet spill, time is of the essence because you want to deal with it before it starts to dry. But if you’re removing a stain that’s already dried, there’s no need to rush!

Once you have removed all the paint you can, the next step will be to soften the remaining oil-based paint. You can do this by using steam cleaners or pouring hot water onto a towel placed over the affected area. You can also pour hot water directly onto the carpet, but keep in mind that a sopping wet carpet is a problem all on its own, so don’t go overboard with the water. Once the oil-based paint is softened, you’ll be able to remove it with the same methods as you would use for wet oil-based paint—which we will describe in great detail down below.

5 Easy Ways to Remove Oil-based Paint out of Carpet

Whether you’re dealing with a fresh stain or you’ve just unearthed a stain that must have been there since the 1970s, you can get rid of either, provided you use the correct method. Browse our list below and pick the perfect method for you!

Method 1 – With Turpentine (wet paint stain)

Weber Odorless Turpenoid, Artist Paint Thinner and Cleaner, 946ml (32 Fl Oz) Bottle, 1 Each

Turpentine is a type of paint thinner that you will likely have come across in art classrooms at your high school as it is often used to clean paintbrushes. It has a strong chemical/alcohol smell. 

Things you need

  • Turpentine
  • Clean towels
  • Warm tap water
  • Dish soap
  • Scraper

Step 1

Cleaning up oil paint will involve dirtying a lot of towels, rags, or paper towels, so before you do anything, it’s a good idea to grab a trash bag so you have somewhere to safely dispose of the oil-based paint-covered rags and avoid making more mess. 

Ready a bowl of warm water and dish soap. Once you’re done with the turpentine, you should rinse it from your carpet as quickly as possible, so it’s a good idea to have the detergent solution ready in advance. You don’t want to use too much soap when rinsing a carpet because it can be hard to get out again. A few drops should be sufficient. 

Step 2

Once all of your tools (the water, the turpentine, the scraper, the towels, and the garbage bag) are in position, you’re ready to begin!

If your oil-based paint is still wet, you’ll need to use the scraper to gently scoop up excess paint and dispose of it. Slide the scraper underneath the paint without pushing down—applying pressure here will only force the paint deeper into the carpet. All you need to do is remove the top layer of excess paint, you don’t need to force yourself to get as much as you possibly can.

Step 3

Once you’ve removed the excess paint, you can start to soak up what’s left with a towel. At first, you’ll be able to do this with a plain clean towel. Just use it to dab and blot the oil-based paint from the carpet. 

If you’re unsure, the process of dabbing and blotting is basically making sure you don’t move the towel while it’s in contact with the carpet. If you rub and scrub the stain, you’ll do more damage than good. Just lower the towel onto the carpet and lift it off, repeatedly. Make sure to switch to a clean section of the towel when it becomes too saturated with oil-based paint to absorb any more. 

Step 4 

When the towel stops picking up paint, it’s time to get the turpentine out. The process is the same, just apply a small amount of turpentine to the towel before you start blotting. Turpentine can be harmful to your carpet and will need to be washed off once the stain is taken care of, so to make that job as easy as possible, limit the amount you use and try to only let the turpentine make contact with the paint-stained area. 

Make sure you keep swapping out the towel (and applying more turpentine) so you’re always dabbing with something clean! Do this until the stain is completely gone. Patience is key!

Step 5

Once the oil-based paint has been removed, you need to wash away the turpentine. Leaving it on the carpet would likely cause discoloration and weaken the carpet fibers. Grab your warm water and dish soap mixture and use a new towel or sponge to blot the area again. To be extra careful, after you’ve rinsed with soapy water, you can soak up excess water with a towel and then rinse the area again with plain water. 

Time to dry things up! To dry your carpet, use a clean dry towel (or paper towels) to soak up as much excess liquid as possible. You can lay a towel over the wet area and stand on it to quickly transfer the water. 

When you’ve absorbed everything you can, it’s best to let the carpet air dry naturally overnight. To help speed up the process, you can turn on your air conditioner, fans, and dehumidifiers.

Method 2 – With Turpentine (dry paint stain)

Dealing with dry paint makes things a little trickier, but you’ll get there. Gather up everything you need and let’s get right to it.

Things you need
  • Turpentine
  • Clean towels
  • Warm tap water
  • Dish soap or dishwashing detergent
  • Scraper
  • Carpet steamer or hot water
  • Vacuum cleaner

Step 1

Prepare waste bags to safely and easily dispose of paint-sodden towels during the cleaning process. 

Make a solution of warm but not hot water and dish soap to rinse the carpet once the stain has been removed.

Step 2

If you’re working with dry oil paint, you’ll need to use a scraper to dislodge the bigger lumps of dried paint from the surface of the carpet. Make sure to take your time and be careful as possible—you want to separate the paint stain from the carpet fibers, not just rip the fibers out of the carpet!

You can also use tweezers or your (gloved) hands when appropriate. You can clean up any flakes of oil-based paint with a vacuum cleaner while the carpet is still dry.

Step 3

Once you’ve removed as much of the paint spill as you can, you’ll need to soften the remainder. The best way to do this is with steam cleaners.

BISSELL SteamShot Deluxe Hard Surface Steam Cleaner with Natural Sanitization, Multi-Surface Tools Included to Remove Dirt, Grime, Grease, and More, 39N7A

Use a precision attachment to apply steam on the lowest to the oil-based paint-stained area. If you don’t have a steam cleaner, you can buy one or simply try laying a towel over the paint stain and pouring hot (but not quite boiling) water over the towel. 

When the paint is softened, you may be able to remove a bit more with the scraper, so it’s worth giving that a try. 

Step 4

Any remaining paint will need to be removed with the turpentine. Apply a small amount of turpentine to a clean towel and blot away at the softened paint. Turpentine is a strong chemical cleaner, so make sure to only let it touch the carpet where absolutely necessary. The paint needs to be as soft as possible, so you may need to re-soften it during the blotting process if you find the oil paint stain is starting to resist being picked up by the towel. 

The key to successfully removing the entire stain is patience. Dabbing away softened dried paint with turpentine will take even longer than wet paint, but you need to resist the urge to speed things up by using larger amounts of turpentine or scrubbing at the paint stain. 

Step 5

Once all the paint is removed, you’ll need to rinse the turpentine from your carpet to avoid discoloration. Use the warm water and soap mixture and blot away at the affected area with a new clean towel. 

To dry your carpet, use dry towels to soak up all the excess liquid, and then leave the carpet to dry overnight. You can use things like air conditioning, fans, and dehumidifiers to speed things up.

Method 3 – With Citrus Solvent

Real Milk Paint, Citrus Solvent, Natural Alternative to Odorless Mineral Spirits, Paint Thinner, Degreaser, Brush Cleaner, 32 oz

If you are uncomfortable using a strong chemical like turpentine, citrus solvent can be used as a natural replacement for paint thinner to remove oil-based paint stains from carpets. Citrus solvent is made out of the oil from citrus peels (mostly oranges) and works in the same way as turpentine. 

The benefits of using citrus oil are the lack of toxic fumes and danger to your carpet. But as it isn’t as strong as turpentine, you will likely need to let it soak for a while to give it time to break up the paint. You can also use white vinegar mixed with baking soda for this method.

Things you need

  • Citrus solvent 
  • Clean towels
  • Warm clean water
  • Dish soap or dishwashing detergent
  • Scraper or putty knife
  • A steam cleaner or hot water (for dry paint)
  • Vacuum (for dry paint)

Steps 1 – 4

These steps are the same as using turpentine:

  • Ready a trash bag to dispose of dirtied towels. 
  • Gather your equipment and make a detergent solution with dish soap or dishwashing detergent.
  • Scoop up wet paint (or dislodge dry paint with a scraper and vacuum it away).
  • Use a dry towel to blot the wet paint or hot water to soften the dry paint. 

Step 5

Once you hit the point where no more paint can be removed with a dry towel or scraping tool, it’s time to turn to the paint thinner.

As mentioned, a citrus solvent is not as strong as turpentine. This means you don’t need to worry about it hurting your carpet as much, but also that it will take longer to work. To apply the solvent, dampen a clean towel with a good amount of it and dab it onto the paint stain. You don’t want to soak the carpet, but you can definitely use more citrus solvent than you would turpentine. 

When the paint-stained area is fully covered with citrus solvent, you need to let it soak for 15-20 minutes. After that, you can use another clean towel dampened with solvent to start blotting away at the paint stains. It will take a while to get rid of all of the oil paint stains, so be patient. If it seems like the paint has stopped coming off at any point, you can do another solvent soak.

Step 6

These steps are the same as using turpentine:

  • Rinse the solvent from your carpet using warm soapy water and a clean towel.
  • Absorb the excess liquid from the carpet with a dry towel and let it air dry overnight.

Method 4 – With Acetone

Pronto 100% Pure Acetone - Quick, Professional Nail Polish Remover - For Natural, Gel, Acrylic, Sculptured Nails (8 FL. OZ.)

Acetone is another solvent you can use to remove oil-based paint spill from carpets. The easiest and safest way to get a hold of acetone is to buy acetone nail polish remover. 

Things you need
  • Acetone nail polish remover
  • Clean towels or clean cloth
  • Cold water
  • Spray bottle
  • Lukewarm water
  • Dish soap or dishwashing detergent
  • Scraper or putty knife
  • Vacuum (for dried paint)

Step 1

Prepare a solution of three parts cold water to one part nail polish remover and put it into a spray bottle. Gather the other items required plus a garbage bag to dispose of soiled towels. 

Once your solution is ready, use a scraper to remove the excess paint (whether it’s wet or dry).

Step 2

Use a towel to blot away remaining wet excess paint that can’t be dealt with using the scraper. Continue doing this until the paint stops lifting up. (For dried paint, you will need to soften the paint with boiling water instead). 

Step 3

Use the spray bottle to completely cover the paint spill with the cold water and nail polish remover solution. 

Use a clean cloth to blot away the paint. Remember to avoid scrubbing the stains because it will make things worse. Keep at this process until all of the fresh paint has been removed from the carpet fibers.

Step 4

Make another cleaning solution of lukewarm water and a small quantity of dish soap. Blot this onto the carpet to wash away the nail polish and avoid it hurting your carpet later on. It’s best to act quickly to wash away the acetone from your carpet as it could cause discoloration stains fairly quickly depending on the type of carpet you have. 

Step 5

To dry your carpet, lay down a clean dry towel and use it to absorb all the excess water. Afterward, you can leave the carpet to air-dry overnight, and turn on any fans, air conditioners, or dehumidifiers you might have to speed things up. 

Method 5 – With Rubbing Alcohol (dry paint stain)

Amazon Brand - Solimo 70% Ethyl Rubbing Alcohol First Aid Antiseptic, 16 Fluid Ounces

Rubbing alcohol is yet another solvent that is easily accessible and great for removing paint stains. Rubbing alcohol is especially good for getting dry oil-based paints out of carpet. 

You can also use a dry cleaning solvent for this method, which is essentially the same chemical as rubbing alcohol but with no water added—it’s used to dry clean clothes. 

Things you need

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Paper towel
  • Warm soapy clean water
  • Cold water
  • Scraper/tweezers or putty knife
  • Vacuum

Step 1

Just as with the rest of the methods, make sure you have a garbage bag on hand to dispose of anything you use to remove the paint. 

Get all of the equipment you need ready and take it to where you’ll be using it. Make the mixture of soap and water, as well.

Step 2

Use the scraper and tweezers to remove dry chunks of paint from the carpet. You should remove as much as you can, but work carefully to avoid pulling out carpet fibers and otherwise damaging the carpet. 

Step 3

Wet a paper towel with rubbing alcohol and place it onto the paint-stained patch of carpet. Apply some pressure to make sure the alcohol makes contact with the surface of the paint. Leave it to settle for 5-10 minutes.

Step 5

Use a clean towel dampened with cold water to blot the paint from the carpet. You can also apply some more rubbing alcohol to the towel for good measure. The blotting method will take time to remove the stain from the carpet but it will work.

Step 6

Once all the paint is removed, blot the surface with a clean towel and clean cold water, then wash the carpet with the soap and water solution. You should also use a clean towel and the blotting technique here. 

Dry the carpet by absorbing excess water with dry towels and then leaving the carpet to air dry.

Things to Know to Not Damage Your Carpet When Cleaning Paint Stains

things to know to not damage your carpet when cleaning paint stains

Oil-based paints (otherwise known as enamel paints) are very different from acrylic paint. If you’re used to cleaning up acrylic paint, which is more likely to be used in craft projects or with children, you may think you can use the same methods. However, since latex paint is water-based, and therefore made with oil instead of water, the two types of paint work very differently. What helps to get rid of water-based latex paint/acrylic paint out of carpet may not help at all with oil paints. 

Getting paint out of a carpet when it’s a fresh paint spill is a race against time—you ideally want to finish the entire job before the paint has time to dry. With paint that has already dried, you don’t need to worry as much.

Other things to be aware of are the effects of solvents and cleaners on your carpet. Even when a solvent is effective as a carpet cleaner, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to use on your rug or carpet. To remove oil paints from your rug, you will need a cleaning agent that can break down the paint so you can then remove it with a cotton cloth without scrubbing.

Some solvents are stronger and more dangerous than others, for instance, hydrogen peroxide is very likely to have a bleaching effect on your carpet. While you can use this if you feel comfortable with the risks, we decided not to include hydrogen peroxide in our recommendations. 

Verdict

Removing oil paint stains from carpets can be a long and boring job, there’s no getting around that fact. However, as long as you have patience, any paint spill can be remedied, from water-based to oil-based, small spills to large. 

If you don’t want to call in a professional carpet cleaner, all you need to do is follow the guidelines mentioned above, and you should be able to get the job done for a fraction of the price. One extra tip before we finish: a clean white cloth is the best tool for blotting up paint because it allows you to clearly see how much paint is coming off your carpet. If you have them to hand, we strongly recommend using them over darker colored clean cloth. 

We hope this article is useful in helping you remove the paint stains from your carpets! Happy cleaning!

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