How to Remove Paint From Vinyl Flooring [Water & Oil-Based Paints]

There’s nothing worse than that sinking feeling the moment you spot paint on your vinyl flooring. Luckily, the situation is not actually as dire as it seems. The majority of paint spills can be safely cleaned and removed from vinyl floors, and in a lot of cases, it’s not even that difficult. 

The basics of cleaning paint from vinyl flooring are to first determine the kind of paint that has been spilled. The two main types are ‘water-based’ paints and ‘oil-based’ paints. The cleaning method will vary slightly depending on which one you are dealing with.

First, soak up and wipe up all the excess paint you can with paper towels or shredded paper. The next steps involve a wash with mild soap and water for water-based paints and a soak of rubbing alcohol for oil-based paints. Extra steps for stubborn sections of paint can include rubbing alcohol for water-based paints, and liquid wax and steel wool for oil paints.

When you’re dealing with a dried paint stain, you’ll need a scraper, putty knife, or a razor to help you scrape the paint off the floor, and chemicals to try and loosen the remaining specks of paint. 

It might sound a little bit complicated, but we promise you it’s not! We will walk you through the process of removing wet and dry water-based paint, and wet and dry oil-based paint from vinyl flooring step by step. We’ll also try to answer any extra questions you might have. 

How to Remove Paint From Vinyl Flooring

How Hard is it to Clean Paint Stains off Vinyl Flooring?

The initial answer to this question is ‘it depends’. It depends on the type of paint you are dealing with, and whether the paint in question is wet or fully dry. Let’s have a closer look at each option before we move on to the step-by-step cleaning process.

Is it Easy to Remove Wet Water-based Paint?

Water-based paint (also known as latex paint) is often used for painting walls and other surfaces in your house. It is a very fast drying paint, and although it’s made with water, this paint becomes water-resistant when dry. When dealing with a fresh spill of paint, you will be able to double-check whether it is water-based or not by looking at the paint tub. 

Wet paint of this type is fairly easy to clean off vinyl flooring, but you need to make sure you move quickly and begin cleaning straight away, because it really will start to dry fast. Whether you’re dealing with a few paint splatters, a dropped paintbrush, or even a spilled bucket of paint, you should be able to remove it all before it dries if you work in a timely manner. 

Is it Easy to Remove Dry Water-based Paint?

The key difference between dry and wet paint when it comes to cleaning is the water-resistance the dry paint has developed. It means that you can no longer use just water and mild soap to clean it up.

Instead, you will need to scrape the dried paint from the surface, be it flooring or vinyl siding, manually. You’ll also use chemicals to lift the remaining smudges from the floor. This isn’t too difficult, but it is definitely more time-consuming, and you may have to repeat the process a few times to fully remove the stain.

The important thing to remember is that there’s no rush in this situation—the paint has already dried. You can take your time with the scraper to avoid damaging your vinyl flooring, and you can take a break between attempts and try another round of cleaning later on. Even if it doesn’t happen all at once, the dry paint will come off bit by bit, and eventually, your floor will be stain-free again!

Is it Easy to Remove Wet Oil-based Paint?

Oil-based paint, or simply ‘oil paint’, is a very old kind of paint that has been used since around the 7th century AD. It typically takes a long time to dry, and if the layers are thick, it can even take multiple days.

While this might have been a total pain to wait for back in high school art class, this time the long dry time is actually a benefit. It means your spill will stay easier to clean for much longer than water-based paint. Of the four types of paint spill/stain, this is the easiest to deal with.

Is it Easy to Remove Dry Oil-based Paint?

When dried, removing oil-based paint is a very similar process to that of dry water-based paint. The best thing to do, to begin with, is to use a scraper to force the paint from the floor. Paint might be quite hardy, but it is still a pliable and fairly soft substance even when dried, so scraping it up can be quite effective.

As mentioned above, removing dried paint from vinyl flooring is not really that hard. As long as you’re careful and patient, your success should be a guarantee, even if it does take a while to get there. 

How to Remove Paint From Vinyl Flooring?

So what do you do to remove paint from your floors? Just water? Lots of scraping? Don’t worry, we’re not leaving you to guess. Let’s go over all the paint types and the different cleaning methods for you to try out.

step by step guide to removing water based and oil based paint from vinyl floor

1. Water-based (latex) Paint

We will begin with latex paint, so if your paint is oil-based, jump right down to the next section.

1.1. Fresh Stain

So, you’re painting your walls and you just spilled your water-based paint all over your vinyl flooring. What is the first thing you should do to remove paint off vinyl? The answer is: find as many dry paper towels, old rags, or unwanted cloths as you can.

You’ll need to soak up and wipe up as much paint as possible, and since this is quick-drying paint, it’s best to work swiftly. If you have it, shredded paper will also absorb excess paint very well. 

Mop up the paint

Use the paper towels to start mopping up the wet paint. You may want to put on a pair of gloves because it can get quite messy, and paint can be a pain to clean off your skin, as well. 

When you’ve cleaned up as much excess paint as possible, make sure to dispose of the soiled paper and cloth somewhere where it can’t make any more mess.

Use damp paper towels

The next step is to use damp paper towels to pick up the paint the dry paper towel couldn’t deal with. Depending on the size of the spill, you may need to use quite a lot of damp paper towels, so if this is the case, grab everything you have plus a bucket of water to dampen the towels easily.

It would also be useful to have a trash bag ready nearby to dispose of each soiled paper towel. This should go without saying, but you should not be putting the paint-soaked towels down on the floor or any other surface!

Use a washing detergent

Once the damp paper towels have reached their limit and stop effectively picking up the paint, you can move on to the third step. Grab your bucket and refill it with water and a decent amount of either mild liquid soap (dish soap, for instance), or a small amount of mild washing detergent. 

Use a clean cloth to clean the area of the floor where the paint was spilled. Aim to remove the remainder of the paint that is left on the floor, but if there are some stubborn paint patches that won’t come off, you can leave those and deal with them in the next step.

Try rubbing alcohol
Dealmed Isopropyl Rubbing Alcohol 70% USP, First Aid Antiseptic, 16 fl. oz, (1 Pack)

For any paint that you could not remove with soapy water, you can try to get it with some rubbing alcohol. Wet a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol, place it over the stubborn paint and leave it to sit for around ten to fifteen minutes. 

After the time has elapsed, remove the damp cloth and rinse the area with warm water and dish soap. This should remove the very last of the paint. Before you can say ‘job done’, make sure to dry any parts of the floor that are still damp.

It’s also a good idea to be thorough when checking for any remaining paint. Look at the floor from different angles, and shine a flashlight or phone light on it to make sure you can see everything. (Note: this method would work for water-based spray paint too).

1.2. Dried stain

If you’ve found a dried paint stain somewhere in your house, there’s a chance that you won’t instantly know where it came from. To know what kind of paint it is, you can check the paint against the color of your wall (you’ll have probably kept note of the paint you used on it).

If you don’t have any luck identifying the paint that way, you can also use a little trick with some rubbing alcohol and a white cloth. Dampen the cloth with some rubbing alcohol and gently rub the surface of the dried paint. If the paint reacts and some color quickly comes off onto the cloth, the paint is water-based. If nothing happens, then the paint is oil-based. 

Scrape the stain
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To remove dried water-based paint from vinyl floor tiles, the first thing you will need is a plastic scraper, a putty knife, a razor, or all three. Dried paint stains will need to be forced from the vinyl floor with these tools. The plastic scraper is the weakest of the three, and (if you have prepared all three) should be the first one you try. 

Use controlled and careful amounts of strength to scrape the paint from the floor. Using your body weight or trying to use speed to increase the power behind your scraping will only end in slips and scuffs on your vinyl flooring. If you have trouble with the plastic spatula, try the metal putty knife. If you have trouble with the putty knife, you can try a razor, but you need to be genuinely careful with it. You could hurt yourself or cut right into your vinyl flooring if your movements are too reckless.

Try out chemicals
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Once you’ve hit your limit with scraping, you can use chemicals to loosen and remove the remainder of the paint. Two good options to remove paint off vinyl are mineral spirits and turpentine.

Mineral spirits and turpentine are both solvents that are often used to clean paint brushes—if you haven’t used any in a long time, the smell may remind you of your high school art classroom! Mineral spirits are made from petroleum, and turpentine is made from pine trees. Either will work to remove dried paint, so just choose whichever is easiest to obtain.

Rub the paint stain 

Dampen clean cloths with your chosen solvent and rub the paint stains until they come off, or until they are softened up enough to be tackled by the scraper. Take your time with this, as it can take a while for the dried paint to succumb to the effects of the solvent. 

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If you’re really struggling with a section of particularly stubborn paint, you can also try an acetone-based paint remover. The most accessible source of this will be nail polish remover.

Acetone has a higher chance of harming your vinyl floor, so you should make sure to test it on a small out-of-the-way area before committing to it. To apply the nail polish remover to the paint stains, just wet a clean cloth with it and rub until the stain has gone.

When your hard work is finally over and all the paint has gone, you can finish the job by giving the general area a clean with some warm water and dish soap. If you’re not having any luck, try some more nail polish remover until everything is clean.

2. Oil-based paint

Dealing with oil-based paints is both a blessing and a curse in this situation. Let’s talk about removing paint from vinyl floor, and more specifically, oil-based paint.

2.1. Fresh stain

If you’re dealing with a fresh spill of oil-based paint, the first thing you can do is sigh in relief. This stuff dries so slowly that you could casually go out to dinner and have a great old time before even beginning to think about cleaning it!

Prepare your tools

To remove excess paint from your vinyl floor, the best tool is a damp cloth, paper towels, or shredded paper. If there’s a lot of paint, you may need multiple clean cloths to get the job done. Make sure to dispose of the paint-soaked cloths in a garbage bag where they can’t dirty anything else. 

Soak the paint

The next step for oil paint, unlike latex paint, does not involve water. We all know that oil and water don’t mix, and once the majority of the paint has been removed, using water will just make things more difficult. Instead, you will need to soak the remaining paint in some rubbing alcohol.

Wet as many microfiber cloths as you need with rubbing alcohol and place them over the paint. Leave the rubbing alcohol to sit for around ten to fifteen minutes. When the time is up, remove the cloths and wipe up the paint with a damp cloth or paper towel. 

Try steel wool
Homax 33873161004 Steel Wool, Super Fine Grade #0000, 16 Pads

If there’s still leftover paint, you can use some liquid wax and superfine steel wool (fine grade #0000 is what you’ll be looking for) to remove it. Apply a small amount of liquid wax to the superfine steel wool and gently rub the paint to remove it.

Finish the job by giving the area a clean with some water and dish soap. You want to make sure there are no harsh chemicals left on your vinyl floor. 

As an extra finishing step, you can add a new layer of wax to the floor to restore its shine. (Note: this method would work for oil-based spray paint too.)

2.2. Dried stain

To remove dried paint that is oil-based, the process is actually the same as with water-kind paint. However, there are a few extra things you can try that we didn’t mention earlier.

First of all, get out your scrapers and begin removing the dried paint from your vinyl floor. Remember to start with the plastic scraper, and move on to the putty knife and razor blade if and when necessary. 

Use mineral spirits

Once you’ve removed as much paint as possible, you’ll need mineral spirits or turpentine to start loosening the remaining paint. Remember, both mineral spirits and turpentine will work equally well.

Wet a clean cloth with a few drops of mineral spirits or turpentine and apply it to the paint. Rub gently back and forth over the paint stain to slowly lift it from the vinyl floor. It may take a while, but keep going until you see at least some results. 

Use acetone nail polish remover

If you really can’t get it all to come off, you can try some acetone nail polish remover.

This kind of chemical is slightly more prone to damaging vinyl floors, though, so make sure to take care and do a test patch first. If you want to use some acetone nail polish remover, you should wipe up the mineral spirits or turpentine first, and dry the floor before applying it. If you mix chemicals, you could hurt yourself and your floor!

Use another clean cloth to apply the nail polish remover to the paint stain and keep rubbing until all signs of the stain have gone. When all the paint has been removed, you can wash the floor with some water and dish soap.

Extra Methods of Removing Paint

If you need some extra stain-removing power, or are interested in alternatives to the cleaning methods used so far, here are some others you can try.

Latex Paint Remover

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Paint stripper or latex paint remover – if you follow the steps above and repeat where necessary but still can’t get rid of all the paint from your vinyl floor, you may need to try some paint stripper.

You can use it in the same way as you would rubbing alcohol (by applying it to a clean cloth or paper towels and rubbing the paint stain), but it is a much stronger solution, so you should only use a few drops at a time. Try to avoid getting all over your vinyl floor. If you notice any damage to your vinyl floor, you should stop using the paint stripper immediately. 

Commercial Solvent

Commercial solvent (e.g PEC-12) – another cleaning solution you can try to remove oil-based paint spills from your vinyl flooring is PEC-12. This is a commercial solvent that is often used for cleaning cameras. Use it in the same way as rubbing alcohol and take the same precautions as the paint stripper. 

Magic Eraser

A magic eraser is a special cleaning product that you can use on most kinds of stains. Simply use the magic eraser like you would a pencil eraser: rub it over the thing you’re trying to make disappear. You can buy a magic eraser quite cheaply and they actually work really well with spilled paint stains, so give it a try!

Will Paint Thinner Damage Vinyl Flooring?

Paint thinner definitely has the potential to damage vinyl flooring. You should always try out using a less heavy-duty chemical first to see if it can do that job.

If you do need to use paint thinner to remove paint off vinyl, just remember to do a test patch first to see how your flooring reacts. And when you’re applying the paint thinner to stain, try to touch the floor around it as little as possible to minimize the chances of damage.

Can I use Acetone on Vinyl Flooring?

You can use acetone on vinyl flooring, but it could do some damage. Make sure to do a test patch in a hidden-away corner first, and if you do use it to remove paint off vinyl, then only apply small amounts at a time and watch out for any negative reactions from your flooring. 

Will Turpentine Damage Vinyl Flooring?

Turpentine is less likely to damage your vinyl flooring than paint thinner or acetone. You should be able to use it to remove paint off vinyl without carrying out a test on a hidden area first and can use a larger amount without worrying about it causing damage to your floor.

Just to be safe, you should always wash the floor with water and dish soap after using it.

A Few Tips to Cleaning Paint Stains off Luxury (LVT) Vinyl Flooring

LVT (Luxury Vinyl Tiles) are more expensive and better quality than normal vinyl flooring, but this doesn’t mean they’re ultra-durable!

If you’re going to any of the strong chemicals mentioned above on LVT, be extra careful not to let them damage your flooring.

Spilled paint on LVT could potentially seep into the cracks between the tiles. If this happens, you may want to seek professional advice on how to deal with it.


The main message to take away from this article is this: spilled paint is not as terrible a thing as you think!

There are a lot of things you can do to remove paint from vinyl floors, from soaking the excess paint from vinyl floor tiles with damp paper towels to using chemicals like rubbing alcohol, nail polish removers, and paint thinners. After that, all that you need to do is rub the stains until no paint remains.

You can also remove paint from vinyl flooring by scraping it off with a putty knife, then pour rubbing alcohol onto a clean cloth and rub to get rid of the more stubborn stains. These techniques should work whether you just spilled paint five minutes ago, or just discovered some old paint from who knows when.

We hope this article has given you enough information on how to remove oil-based paint, water paints, wet paint, and dried paint from your vinyl floor, and we wish you all the best luck in trying to get the results you want!

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