How can I Remove Dried Paint from Carpet?

Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

If you've spilled paint on your carpet, the best time to remove it is while it's still wet. However, there are some reliable ways to remove dried paint and avoid the hefty cost of carpet replacement. Products like WD-40, Goo Gone, acetone-containing nail polish remover and ordinary paint thinner can remove dried paint. Before you start with any of these products, however, it's best to try a small amount of the chemical on an inconspicuous part of your carpet. If it doesn't remove the coloring or otherwise damage your carpet, you know it's okay to use for removing the paint stain.

Nail polish remover can be used to remove paint from carpeting.
Nail polish remover can be used to remove paint from carpeting.

To remove dried paint with WD-40, you'll need to gather a can of WD-40, clean, white rags (or those that are not dyed), a hard-bristle brush, and a razor blade or knife. Before you apply the WD-40, you should use the razor blade and/or brush to scrape as much of the dried paint off your carpet as possible. Next, apply the WD-40 to your carpet stain to soften it. Work it in with a clean rag. Once you've worked a generous amount into your carpet, let it sit undisturbed for about 20 minutes.

Dried paint on carpet is removable.
Dried paint on carpet is removable.

After about 20 minutes have passed, it's time to go back to work with a fresh rag and some elbow grease. Scrub the stained area with the WD-40 still on it, and the paint should begin to soften and lift off. Next, you'll need to scrape at the leftover paint using your razor blade again. Once the paint stain has been removed, you can use a solution of dishwashing liquid and water to clean the area. Follow up with a rinse with clear water.

The lubricant WD-40 may be used to remove dried paint stains from the carpet.
The lubricant WD-40 may be used to remove dried paint stains from the carpet.

You may use this method to remove dried paint with a product like Goo Gone as well. To protect yourself from injury, wear protective gloves to keep your hands safe from the chemicals you use as well as the sharp razor blade. Some people have success with scraping the paint with a dull knife instead. This method may prove safer for your hands. However, you may have to spend a longer time scraping the paint stain.

Wear protective gloves when cleaning the carpet with toxic chemicals to protect your hands.
Wear protective gloves when cleaning the carpet with toxic chemicals to protect your hands.

You may also remove dried paint with nail polish remover or paint thinner. To remove dried paint with either chemical, start by scraping the paint stain with a razor blade or knife to get as much of the paint off as you can before you apply the chemical. Then, scrub the chemical into the stain. If you are using paint thinner, it may be more helpful to blot the stain up instead of scrubbing it. Once the paint has softened and begun to come up, alternate blotting/scrubbing with gentle scraping. Follow up by cleaning the previously stained area with dishwashing liquid and water and then rinsing it with clear water.

Supplies needed to remove dried paint from carpet may include rags.
Supplies needed to remove dried paint from carpet may include rags.
Nicole Madison
Nicole Madison

Nicole’s thirst for knowledge inspired her to become a wiseGEEK writer, and she focuses primarily on topics such as homeschooling, parenting, health, science, and business. When not writing or spending time with her four children, Nicole enjoys reading, camping, and going to the beach.

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Discussion Comments


Genesis 950 is the best thing I have ever found to remove dried paint from carpet. It works on everything from latex to acrylic paints. Even on old, dried paint that has been on carpet for long periods of time.


Does this work for gloss paint?


Good to know! I thought I was going to have to get my carpet cleaned, but I'll be pumped if I can save some money!


Dry acrylic paint stain removal is easy. You just have to soak the old paint.

I work with acrylic paints on canvas all the time, and if the spills on the carpet are fresh, I can get them up with a wet cloth. Acrylic paint is water based, so it isn't that hard to remove.

However, once it dries, it takes a bit more effort. I have to thoroughly soak the carpet with water until the paint loosens up. I really don't need to use any chemicals at all.


I never knew how to remove dried paint from carpet, so I just scooted the couch over to the spot where the paint had gotten into the carpet. I really would like to put the couch somewhere else, and know that I've read this article, that is a possibility.

Just knowing that the dried paint is under there irritates me. I'm going to work on it so I can have the option of moving the furniture around.


@feasting – The easiest way is to use a carpet cleaner that will suck up water and suds like a vacuum. This is what I used when removing dry paint.

I started with my husband's grease remover goo and a box cutter. Once I had gotten up as much paint as possible with those, I lathered and rinsed the carpet. The carpet cleaner helped suck up the soapy water.

If you don't have a carpet cleaner, you can always just use a big sponge. Use it until it's saturated, and then squeeze it out in the sink and use it some more.


I've never tried any method of dried paint removal, because I don't see how it's possible to rinse the suds out of carpet once you have washed it with soap. There's nowhere for the suds to go when you pour the water on them, so they will just spread to the rest of the carpet, right?


@LisaLou-- That happened to me once and I just made sure I had a piece of furniture covering up the small area that changed the color of the carpet. Now I use a concentrated, organic all-purpose cleaner that I know will not harm the carpet in any way.

I just apply of few drops of this cleaner and rub in into the dried paint. I wait for this to absorb for about 15 minutes and then I can usually just scrape the paint right out of the carpet. This same cleaner will also work for gum that gets stuck and dried on carpet as well.


The advice about always making sure you check out the product on an inconspicuous area is good advice, and something I learned the hard way. It seems like no matter how careful I am when I am painting over carpet, I still end up getting a few areas of dried paint somewhere.

The first time I tried to remove this with a product I had on hand, I ended up with a white stain in the middle of a dark brown carpet. This was an expensive lesson and one that I have made sure and never repeated again.


@anon186202-- I would have never thought of using something like vodka to remove dried paint from carpet, but I can understand how that might work. I think you might get good results with just about any kind of alcohol based product as long as it didn't ruin the color of your carpet.


I have had good luck removing water based paint with oxiclean laundry stain remover. I let the paint dry, spray on the oxiclean, take a white towel and scrub, then follow up with warm soapy water, scrub a bit more then rinse a few times with clean warm water (pour on, take towel blot as dry as possible and repeat). I just did it with a burned yellow color paint on dark cream carpet.

I would not recommend leaving the oxiclean on long and testing an area of the carpet first where you don't see. I've used oxiclean to pretreat clothes before and it bleach it out slightly if I left it on too long before washing. I also used it once on a hemp rug that had, I think, natural dyes, and it left a bleached area.


vodka and a wire brush cleans up paint from carpet fast. I never would have believed it, but I tried it and it worked.


@cmsith10, I have had the same luck as well! I also created a mixture of paint thinner and soda water which was not as harsh on the carpet. I have several small dogs and was worried about chemicals saturating the carpet fibers. But, by diluting the paint thinner with the water, I feel as if I have made the chemicals less potent.


I have successfully removed paint out of carpet with fingernail polish remover. I have also used WD-40 and odorless mineral spirits.

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