How to Clean Paint Spills

The Painting Co - How to Clean Paint Spills - 20170911

They say there’s no use crying over spilled milk, but most people will cry over spilled paint. It can cost a lot of money or take a lot of time to paint over where it has spilled. As a rule of thumb, it is always better to clean up paint when it is still wet.

For some types of surfaces and paint-type, you can put in a little extra work to remove dry paint too. Here are some tricks for cleaning up paint spills on carpet, tile, hardwood, and concrete floors.


One of the trickiest paint spills to clean up is carpet. You must act quickly, but using a wet cloth for small spills will completely remove the paint if it is water-based, like latex paint. If that doesn’t cut it, or the spill is more than small spots, hot soapy water will clean it up. Scrubbing usually spreads the paint, but if the spot is too big, blotting won’t work. If the area is large, try pouring fresh water on the carpet and soaking it up with a shop vac or old towels. A carpet cleaner is great too. Keep the paint wet while you clean it up, because dry paint in carpet is very difficult to remove if you can remove it at all. If the paint is only on the top of the carpet, just use scissors to trim the spots out.

Oil-based paints are a lot harder. Water and soap will do nothing but spread the oil around and you run a risk of combustion. Immediately open the windows and get the air flowing for some ventilation. You can try to soak it up with kitty litter or paper towels, but you should plan to replace the carpet.


Cleaning up paint on the tile is usually as easy as wiping it up if it’s still wet. The real problem is when it dries on the tile. For some types of ceramic tiles, you can just scratch and peel the dried paint off. If the spill is completely flat though, chances of it peeling are slim. The best tool here is right in your closet. Rubbing alcohol is great for scrubbing paint off the tile. You can even use it in the form of fingernail polish remover. Soak the area and let it sit for a minute. The paint should come off with a little scrubbing.

For oil-based paints, try paint thinner to remove it. Test it out on a small area first, to make sure it doesn’t discolor your tile. You can also try liquor thinner or acetone (rubbing alcohol), but still, make sure it won’t discolor the tile.


Hardwood floors are tricky because they absorb so much and risk damaging them further with extreme paint removal methods. The best solutions in these scenarios are citrus-based. Soak the paint splatters for short periods of time and then scrub and scrape it up. You don’t want too much absorbed, so it may take multiple attempts to completely remove the spilled paint. Some good products are Goo Gone and Mr. Clean. Either will do minimal damage to your hardwood floors.

Oil-based paints will soak into the floor. Trying to remove it with any product will remove the finish off your floor. The best thing to do is sand down the area and reapply a stain matching the rest of the floor.


For both oil-based and latex paints, try using a chemical paint stripper or thinner. There are different varieties of different types of paint bases. Pour some of the solutions on the paint splatter and let it soak in before scrubbing with a brush or scraping it off. The best method is to follow the directions on the back of the container.

Another way to remove latex paint is to let it dry and then scrape at it with a sharp blade. You can use paint thinner first, but if the paint is thick enough, it may just peel off with a lot of time and effort. A power washer can also be used to remove paint from concrete.

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