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How To Clean Paint Stains from Carpet

Paint spills should be contained and removed as promptly as possible. It is always best to work methodically and carefully, but spills allowed to dry or sit for extended periods of time can become permanently bonded to carpet and rug fibers, particularly synthetics - so some measure of efficiency is required here. Use a blotting motion rather than rubbing in all the removal techniques to avoid spreading and grinding in the stain. Keep plenty of clean paper towels and plastic bags on hand to help remove the stain without accidentally getting paint on other areas of the carpet.

Carpets come in a wide variety of materials, and unusual carpet pigments or materials such as leather, suede or exotic synthetics may not react favorably with cleaning solutions. Wool and silk can also require specialized care. You may also wish to consider the backing material of your carpet or rug, and whether or not it will react to the cleaning solution. Any stain remedy should be tested in an inconspicuous area. It's also helpful to identify what type of paint has been spilled, as differences between oil and latex varieties will determine which stain remedy is ideal. Many solvents are not likely to be compatible with some types of synthetic carpeting or plasticized coating on the fibers.

Contain the spill by forming a barrier around the paint stain with clean dry paper towels or clean absorbent rags. Using additional clean dry paper towels or rags use a blotting motion to pick up and remove excess paint that has not yet seeped into the carpet or dried. Turn to a clean section of towel or rag after each blot. Paper towels free of decoration are preferred, to help prevent dye transfer.  For remedies that involve water, try to avoid over wetting the carpet or rug (at the end of the process, it should be able to dry in under 12 hours), and avoid walking on treated areas until dry to help prevent shrinkage or other distortion.

For water soluble paints, use clean paper towels dampened with water to lift and remove the paint.  Try to avoid over wetting the stain and allowing it to liquefy and spread. Work from the outside of the spill towards the center, using fresh paper towels as needed. Once you have removed as much paint as possible, use a mild pH neutral dishwashing liquid like Dawn or Ivory to address the remainder of the stain. Dilute the dishwashing liquid in water, and apply using clean paper towels or a soft sponge. Follow with a clean water rinse and blot dry or use a wet/dry vacuum. If one is easily available, a steam carpet cleaner is very effective for alleviating  remaining marks after the bulk of the paint has been removed, due to the combination of heat and moisture.

For acrylic paints, dab glycerin onto the stain to help slow drying time and break up the stain. Apply acetone, commonly found in many nail polish removers, with a clean paper towel or rag to remove paint residue. Follow with a light overall cleansing to remove solvent (acetone), using a mild dishwashing liquid diluted with water, final clear water rinse, and blot dry to finish.

For oil based paints, apply synthetic turpentine or mineral spirits to the stain using clean paper towels. For hardened paint, you may find turpentine preferable to mineral spirits. Work from the outside of the spill towards the center, using fresh paper towels as needed. Do not use heat and avoid exposure to sparks, flames or cigarettes when working with these solvents as they are flammable. Allow solvent to evaporate from any cleaning supplies such as used paper towels or rags prior to disposal. Turpentine and mineral spirits are effective on paint, but itself leaves a residue and should not be allowed to remain in your rug or carpet. The next step is to blot the affected area with rubbing alcohol using clean paper towels or cotton balls for smaller spots. When stain removal is complete, perform a light overall cleaning to remove solvent residue. Dilute a mild dishwashing liquid with water and apply with a clean sponge or paper towel. Follow with a final clear water rinse and blot dry or use a wet/dry vacuum to remove excess moisture.

Many commercial solvents are also available through hardware and home improvement stores. Know your carpet material and paint type before you make your purchase, and read the labels carefully to determine which product is right for you. Apply according to manufacturer's instructions.

Caution: Never mix cleaning agents or chemicals, the result can be dangerous or deadly. Before cleaning, always test the agent on an inconspicuous location to determine its suitability and to make certain it does not damage the material. Wear appropriate clothing such as gloves and protective eyewear, and work in a well-ventilated area. Accidental inhalation or ingestion of cleaning agents can be hazardous and even fatal, particularly to pets and children.

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