I’ll save you the story of how I spilled dark brown paint on our light beige carpet, and get right to sharing how we successfully removed it, despite how bleak things looked when we first stared in horror at the ugly, dark splatter on our living room carpet.
Yes, we got it cleaned up completely, with no trace of paint or stain left behind. And amazingly, it was rather quick and easy! But the key to success is: Work quickly. If you let the paint dry, there’s not much hope that I know of.
• First, take an old towel and use it to blot up the excess paint. Do not rub. Just press and blot, and turn the towel frequently. Get another towel if the first one gets soaked with paint quickly. Philip used his foot and put his weight on it.
• Next, soak the stain with water. We put a drop of dish soap in a big cup, filled it with hot water, and then poured the soapy water directly onto the stained carpet until it was thoroughly soaked. Then we let it sit there while Philip called our neighbor, asked if we could borrow his wet/dry shop vac, and went over to get it. It took about ten minutes for him to make the call, go down to our neighbor’s house, and get back with the shop vac.
• With the shop vac, suck up all that soapy water. This was the amazing step. The paint came right up with the water. After the first round of vacuuming, almost all the stain was gone from the carpet. There was just a hint of dark stain remaining.
• Repeat, this time using a scrub brush with the soapy water. We poured another big cup of dish-soapy hot water onto the remaining hint of a stain, and this time, Philip used a scrub brush to work it into the fibers and gently “scrub” the carpet. Then he vacuumed up all the water again. The stain was almost completely gone. In fact, no one would ever know at that point that there had been a spill there, so it probably was completely gone.
But the perfectionist in me — if I stared at it in just the right light, at a particular angle — could see what might have been a hint of a dark stain left behind. So I added another step, which probably isn’t necessary, but was basically harmless as well as easy, so, why not?
• (Optional Perfectionist Steps) Pour rubbing alcohol onto the scrub brush and gently scrub the carpet. Don’t pour alcohol directly onto the carpet! This can harm the backing, or cause some such problem— although I’ve used rubbing alcohol on other stains (ink, nail polish…yes, we’re a very destructive lot when it comes to spilling horrible liquids on carpet!), with no harm to the carpet that was worse than the stain itself. All I know is, rubbing alcohol dissolves latex paint. (In fact, a little trick to use if you move into a previously-owned house and want to know if paint on a wall is latex or oil-based, is to put rubbing alcohol on a rag and rub the wall. If paint comes off on your rag, it’s latex. If not, then it’s oil-based.)
After the rubbing alcohol scrub, there was absolutely no trace of paint left in the carpet at all! We did an extra rinse or two to make sure the alcohol was washed away completely, and then a final vacuum with the shop vac to remove as much water as possible.
The carpet now looks better in that spot than everywhere else in the room. Now I need my entire living room carpet cleaned to match the clean spot! 😉