how to remove paint from your carpet


I *thought* I was home with a sick child Sunday. Our oldest started coughing the night before with a few subtle complaints. This would have been our fourth round of strep within six weeks of the Mills home, and this paranoid mama wasn’t messing around. Jamin was even tested to make sure he wasn’t a carrier. I was on an antibiotic. Strep is sneaky in our family. It starts out with a rash or a cough and isn’t full blown my-throat-hurts-and-I-have-a-fever-hello-take-me-to-the-doctor-itis. So before I know it, I’m scouring our home for the fiftieth time, replacing toothbrushes and doing laundry like we’re about to lose power because it’s the zombie apocalypse. Also, I’m that mom who’s exposed fifty-something kids with my contaminated three, and everyone hates us.

I was being careful.

It wasn’t strep when we saw our (awesomeamazingtoputupwithus) doctor that afternoon, so I was torn between relief, and feeling overreactive… and like a little bit of a faker. Any time I miss an event all in the name of an illness that I thought was there, I digress to that. In the fourth grade, I put my thermometer in hot water so I could miss school. It broke. Mercury remnants were doing their weird metallic thing and floating on my hand and I had no idea what they were. So I took them to my mom, after I played with them for a good five minutes. She freaked out and then I had to fess up as to why the thermometer broke. Apparently you’re not supposed to swallow it and mercury absorbs into your skin and you can die and stuff. I couldn’t really go with my fever was just that high.

So in lieu of my own child not being sick, I decided to lean more towards the relief side of things. The really relieved side. We need a break. Even if that did make us paranoid fakers.

But rewind. Digressions aside, that morning we missed church because of it. While I made the suspect carrier rest, I decided to try to continue with the great debacle that is Emerson’s room.

I was working on her wall, and I decided to relocate a container of paint so I could get a good look at what I was doing without making a mess. I also had (let it be noted) three drop cloths in the room. I noticed a bit of a gap in what I was doing, and stepped back to inspect the wall. Apparently, I did an entire section of a stencil wrong, and when I stepped back in utmost horror, I kicked over an entire container of metallic water based gold paint. Icing on my cake.

The very paint can I had just moved in a grand attempt to escape spillage, I kicked over.

My first reaction, was that I am an idiot. My second, was to save the paint. I was scooping it up with my hands and back into the container, absolutely miffed that I could be so ridiculous, resolved to blame it on low blood sugar and general awkward klutziness. And then I noted that the universe of all things church-y must be punishing me for faking my child’s sickness all so I could paint. Instead, I was babysitting a carpet-ruining stain.

Touché, universe of all things churchy. Touché.


I even took this photo (the dork in me knew this would be a fun post) and placed it on Instagram for advice. I was panicking.

While I waited for the advice that I knew would come from really smart people, I decided to keep it wet. Surely you don’t let it dry, right? Someone noted my forensic talent in the placement of my pencil for size documentation.


Also, if anyone was wondering, I did not stay home with my fake sick child so I could paint, and then further reward myself by pouring paint on the floor to subsequently score my long-coveted hardwoods.

If I wanted to start somewhere, it would not be in Emerson’s room.


So once I sopped up as much as I could to keep the stain contained, I sprayed it with water, and covered it with paper towels. Then I stood on it so I could have as much pressure as possible to sop it up. When a paper towel was saturated, I began the process all over again. Wet the carpet. Blot with a bunch of paper towels. {watch the bottoms of your feet when you step off – ideally onto another towel – it soaks right through.)

Don’t judge my lack of a pedi and my freakishly long finger toes. It’s still early spring, and the weird finger like longness comes in handy when I need to reach things.

I sent a picture to my mom, and she thought someone had the voms. Also, my comment on Instagram about scooping it up with my hands worried a few of you. Sorry about that. Paint guys. Paint. I would never touch vomit with my bare hands. Unless it was threatening the life of our chesterfield.

remove_paint_stainsA few of you guys pitched in to affirm what I was already doing : pouring water onto the carpet, and soaking it back up. With each pass, a little more paint was removed. When it looked like this, I was absolutely thrilled. Y’all were my awesome cheerleaders.

And a little bummed that my church skipping scheme for hardwoods had failed.

I realized I was no longer hyperventilating. And I kept going.

paint_stain_removerI know that this might not work for everyone. My process was a little easier because our carpet and that gold color were at least in the same family. But I stayed with it. 1.5 hours, one towel, four rolls of paper towels (sorry, earth) and a little bit of this woolite stuff (it actually smells good, y’all) and the stain went from this…

remove_paint_stains_from_your_carpetTo this. That photo looks a little weird. Promise You can’t even tell it was there. (The carpet was still a little damp when I took this photo) I was quite proud.

And you guys didn’t see the real before. It was a literal standing puddle.

Sigh. No hardwoods for me.


So I just thought I would share that today. In case any of you suffer your own catastrophes. I realize our paint was water based, but I think the key is to keep it wet,  DO NOT RUB IT IN, and absorb as much as possible. Finishing it off with a little woolite is fabulous, too. It takes out that final bit you just couldn’t remove. And no, they did not pay me to say that. ;}

Tada! No more grotesque stain on her carpet.

It’s the little things, guys. Just keepin it real.

Have you guys ever had a DIY kinda catastrophe like this? Spill your horror stories! Even the actual vom ones. ;} Any tips you want to share?

Have an inspired day!

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Responses to how to remove paint from your carpet

  1. Chaney says:

    Wow, Ashley! I can’t believe it came up like that! Uh-mazing. I’m glad to know all is not lost when paint and carpet come together :).

  2. ErinY says:

    When I was 10 I was upset about something and kicked over the container that held all of our nail polish. Well that *light* tap knocked one of the bottles just right and broke it so that it spilled all over my mom’s light gray carpet. Whoops! First and only time I was ever grounded. Luckily, the threat that it was going to come out of my bank account to remove it didn’t really manifest because all it took was a bottle of nail polish remover. Hallelujah! haha Although my brother’s vomit stain in the hallway right outside the bathroom is still slightly there….lololol

  3. Kara K says:

    That’s awesome! My son squeezed out a tube of BB cream onto my carpet. I should try that stuff!

    • PeggySue says:

      Hi Kara. Test your carpet with Clorox Anywhere spray. It is my second carpet cleaning go-to item. Spray areas no bigger than a silver dollar, soak it up with paper towels and make sure that it is almost completely dry before moving to the next spot. It is a must to dry it as fast as possible, so that it does not change the color. It works much like lacquer thinner or dry cleaning agents but not toxic to breathe. I have had great success even on very old stains. I use it for pet stains and it even cleans up grape juice stains like a champ. It comes with a bonus: It kills the germs and inadvertently gets rid of the odor causing bacteria. :)

  4. That is awesome. I need some good stain remover.

  5. AHHH! I wish I would have seen this…oh…2 months ago when I spilled black paint all over my almost-white carpet! I seriously panicked! And I still have a huge, somewhat-crusty stain right by my front door…(click on the link to see what I’m dealing with)

  6. Jennifer Himburg says:

    I had to lol when I read this. About three weeks ago I was moving a gallon of paint within the room so that I could begin putting down my drop cloths. And then the disaster occurred…….. I dropped the gallon of paint and the lid came right off. Immediately I had 2/3 of a gallon of light blue paint all over my carpet! I reacted immeditalely the same way you did by scooping it up with my hands. I too thought to keep it wet so I ran to fetch a gallon pitcher full of water, and a bottle of Ivory soap (Ivory soap is the best soap ever for paint!) and my trusty ShopVac! I dumped water and soap on it, and then began vacuuming it up. Which was working well, until…. the shopvac began overflowing, which led to me calling a a neighbor beggin for help! Luckily we thought to open the window and set the shopvac out so it didn’t matter that it was overflowing. 5 gallons of water and a whole lot of vaccuming later…… you can’t even tell!!!! I’m still amazed!

  7. Kim C says:

    Yep! I’ve done it. I grabbed a plastic dust pan to scoop up the excess and pour it back in the can. Then I poured warm water from a pictcher on to it while my husband grabbed the Bissel Little Green and started sucking up the paint/water soup. We did this continually for about an hour. My husband would empty the chamber while I poured more water on it. Worked like a charm! For the record, I had just moved the gallon of paint so that I wouldn’t spill it! LOL

  8. Glad you got it off – was worried. Also, a little funny – the email ahead of your post for Lasik – little Universe humor I guess! Take care, Laura

  9. Amy says:

    I did that same thing- but with OIL based paint. The method you used didn’t work. but i eventually got wood floors out of it (well, combined with spills from two dirty boys and two dogs, one of whom pretends not to be house-trained when it rains).
    I feel your pain- that was stressful to me too!

  10. Rose says:

    Years ago my 2 year old son spilled a bottle of purple calligraphy ink (yes I was the one who left it open and unattended) on our almost new light gray carpet. I worked and worked trying to get it out. Finally I had to call the carpet store. They came out, cut the stain out of the carpet and pad and filled it in with a new pad and some of the leftover carpet. You could barely see where the surgery took place. Lesson learned: always keep an eye on your two year old, AND save those carpet remnants.

  11. Christine says:

    Yikes, my worst fear. And with my clumsiness/airheadedness it is a real possibility for me to knock things over. Thanks!

  12. Renee Ford says:

    IM SO HAPPY YOU GOT IT ALL OUT!!!!! Told ya it takes LOTS of paper towel :(. And I’m so happy y’all don’t have strep. :0)

  13. Why, yes, indeed. I was painting our master bath in kermit green…uh-huh, kermit the frog green. I’ll pause so you can gasp, or “vom”, but it happened. Anyhoo, I was alone and my sweetness was at work. I was on a ladder, went to step down from the ladder and my entire size 9 1/2, ok, really size 10 foot landed in the paint can and as I fell backwards I landed on the tiled step of the whirlpool tub! No injuries were sustained, except my ego when I callled sweetness at work while wailing.
    It’s not easy being green…

  14. Jean s says:

    I used a mixture of fabric softener a d peroxide to get a dried 2 year old dark blueprint stain from beige carpeting. It was a rental and we were cleaning with a wet vac. Applied over and over till it was not surface visible. You can clean you brushes and rollers with a mixture of 1 to 3 fabric softener to water. It pulls the paint out. Learnt this at a paint class at a home show.

    • Jean s says:

      Sorry about the typos, don’t do this often. But wanted to share how awesome the fabric softener works. It is also took paint out of my jeans. Applied this full strength rubbed and rinsed.

  15. Jennifer says:

    *giggles* SO glad you got that out! I was making dinner one night (I hate to cook, hate it, especially with the toddler man around) and while I was busy at the stove, said toddler man unscrewed an entire container of Martha Stewart’s Metallic Silver…brand new…and poured it all over my living room rug. LUCKILY it’s a plastic rug…I had to soak the thing like crazy and I still have remants in our wood floor, but I want them refinished anyway. 😉 And I like a little sparkle! But that incident gave me an excuse to hand over the cooking dinner thing to my hubs when he gets home…he likes to cook!
    My middle child knocked over a gallon of paint in our first house on the wood floor…and I ended up just painting the floor. Ha! I had always wanted to do that and it was the perfect excuse!

  16. I painted a mural on the nursery wall in our new house. I went into labor in the very early morning and thought, let me move the paint can out of there so our precious newborn isn’t breathing paint fumes when we bring her home from the hospital. I dropped the gallon on very hot pink paint and it went everywhere (the door, wall, doorway, and hall)! I had to clutch the stair banister in the hall during contractions as I cleaned it up, with my hubby’s help (he was cracking jokes the whole time!). We were pouring water on it and vacuuming it up with a Bissell Little Green machine and soaking it up with towels too. We finally had to give up and go to the hospital, baby was coming! We called a friend from church and begged him to come finish the job at 5am! He did, the end. We still love him. :)

  17. Heather says:

    You my friend need a carpet cleaner!! As does everyone on the planet!!

  18. Donna Lamb says:

    I would never believe you could have gotten that out if I didn’t see the pics…… lady, thanks for the tip, I will never forget this one!

  19. PeggySue says:

    I’ve had a somewhat similar carpet stain situation however; it was not paint. It was a long trail…from the garage, through the living room, the dining room and into the kitchen. Then, back through in the reverse with now; two lines..that would dry up as I cleaned; I feared. My stepson cut himself (which ended up only requiring butterfly bandages) while trying to clean his bike. He did not know to put pressure on it and did not know to hold his thumb up high. I explained this while wrapping a kitchen around his thumb. Poor thing had never seen blood like this on him before and he was NOT very calm. While his Dad took him to emergency…he left me to clean the stain. I was worried that once the blood dried, it would never come out. I remembered what my Mom had told me for carpet stains. I mixed cold water with table salt: One quart to 2 teaspoons and just a couple of drops of liquid Tide. I worked quickly; pouring the solution under the stain; not over it. At the same time, I ran the shop vac over the stain to suck it up. It came up like a charm. Once I was done removing the stains, I used the shop-vac to remove most of the water that remained in the carpet from around the areas where the stains had been. I then; used paper towels to remove any access moisture from the carpet (using my heels to dig to apply more pressure into the carpet). I opened all doors, windows and turned the fan on to remove any signs of blood so that our son would be at ease when he returned home. I was able to remove all of the stains, dry the carpet (visibly) and vacuum. He was still shaken when he returned with his butterfly bandages, but calmed down once he saw…home was back to normal… and he was much calmer because he was home: Not in emergency. :)

  20. Lindsay O. says:

    I seriously could have used this a week ago. I didn’t think to keep it wet… It’s not pretty, let me tell you. And it’s in an un-hide-able spot. Sigh… Next time, clumsy, next time…

  21. Sam says:

    I did this with bright blue paint on cream carpet. Probably around the same size. I got the advice from a carpet cleaner business. Same method…keep wet but instead of paper towels I used a shop vac to suck it up!

  22. Rosemary Sadri says:

    So does this method work for paint that is in a spray can as well?

    • Hey Rosemary! We haven’t tried it out with a spray can but I do think the key is to keep it wet and work from there. It wouldn’t hurt to try since it’s just water + the cleaning solution. I hope you get some good results!

  23. laurie raboin says:

    I spilled a half gallon of dark blue paint on my new beige carpet. I started googling and came upon your site. I followed your instructions and you can’t even see where I spilled the paint. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Kathleen Jasper_McCall says:

    Oh yes I drop a at. Sample of eggplant color of paint, on a very very nice area rug this morning, I got maybe 1/2 of that very grape looking stain up and the carpet company showed up they were amazed at what I had done with my homemade internet carpet cleaner. White vinegar, oxyi-clean a little fabulouso for the smell. They said they could not make no promises,but if it comes back with just a little tint I will kiss them. LOL