How to Get Acrylic Paint Out of Carpet – Most Effective Ways

Author: Pat Freling | Updated: | Affiliate links may be present.

It was a long desire of mine to switch to gray carpet flooring for my work room. After years of using vitrified tiled flooring, it seemed like a breath of fresh air.

However, the joy didn’t quite last long, as a cousin’s kid spilled his acrylic colors on my newly installed carpet, forcing me to explore various options to remove it easily without causing any damage to the carpet itself.

While researching this topic, I found that the general rule of thumb is that the fresher and wetter the paint, the easier it is to get out. Acrylic paint is known for drying fast, and the longer you leave it, the harder it’s going to be to get it off your carpet.

It would be better to start with the most gentle method, and if that doesn’t work, you’ll be forced to move onto more abrasive measures.

Types of Paint that Could Be Stuck in Your Carpet

Before you start out with paint removal process, it’s must to be sure about what type of paint you have spilled. The last thing you want to do is to apply a stronger cleaning agent than what you’d actually need, ruining your beautiful carpet in the process!

Acrylic-Based Paints

Acrylic paint is a water-soluble paint consisting of pigments and coloring, suspended in a blend of acrylic polymer. When dried, it becomes water-resistant, so it is essential to clean any spills before it has had time to dry.

This is the kind of stuff that are known more commonly as ‘water colors’ (yes, those tubes that kids use are acrylic, as well).

Oil-Based Paints

Oil-Based paints are more resistant but can take longer to dry. They are made with natural linseed or artificial alkyd oil. Harsher chemicals like turpentine or paint thinner need to be used to remove oil-based paint.

These are usually applied on outdoor furniture and the likes, where it’s important for the paint to stick to the surface as long as possible, resisting external factors.

Water-Based and Latex Paint

The name of this paint can be misleading. It does not contain latex from rubber. Latex paint is made from acrylic adhesive and is water-based.

Difference Between Acrylic Paint and Oil-Based Paint

There are easy methods to tell the difference between acrylic and oil-based paints. Most of these methods only work while the paint is still wet, as it’s harder to tell the difference once dried.


The easiest way of determining what type of paint you have is to look at the colors. Two things to be aware of when observing the colors are the clarity and the edges. Acrylic paint is more vivid than oil-based paints, and the edges are more crisp and sharp.


When examining your paint, concentrate on its texture. If it appears highly textured or appears to have many layers, it is most likely an oil-based paint. Acrylic paint appears more smooth or rubbery. This could be deceiving if there has been something added to the paint to thicken it.


Does your paint appear to be glossy? If so, it is probably oil-based paint. Acrylic paint gives off a more matte appearance.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint from Carpet – A Few Different Ways

The Warm Water and Dish Soap Method

You will need:

This method is my favorite. It’s arguably the easiest way to get acrylic paint off carpet and still quite effective.

Firstly, you will need to mix your dish soap with warm water. You will need one teaspoon of dish soap for every cup of warm water. Pour the solvent into the spray bottle and make sure to shake it well.

Spray a small amount of soapy water onto the stained area. After that, you can gently dab the area with a damp paper towel. You must take caution not to rub the stain as this will only spread the paint further. Continue to dab at the paint using clean, damp paper towels. Repeat if needed.

Soak up any remaining liquids by dabbing the area with dry paper towels and allow to dry in a well-ventilated room. Fans can be a great tool in speeding up the drying process.

The Scraping Method

What you will need:

  • Spoon, dull knife, or paint scraper
  • Clean rag
  • Soft brush such as a toothbrush
  • Vacuum
  • Needle-nose pliers
  • Citrus cleaner

Should the acrylic paint be too hard and difficult to remove, you can try using a putty knife and a citrus cleaner like this one from Goo Gone. You can also use a lubricant spray like WD-40 on dried acrylic paint and let it soak for 20-25 minutes. These products soften the paint making it easier to remove.

Use the spoon, dull knife, or paint scraper to scrape up the excess acrylic paint. Take your rag and wipe off any leftover paint between scrapes.

Remove the acrylic paint by brushing it with a soft brush or toothbrush and vacuum up the dried pieces.

For the bigger chunks of paint, use needle-nose pliers carefully, loosening them.

You need to make sure to horizontally brush the paint off the carpet, ensuring that you are not driving the paint downwards.

The Acetone and Spot Cleaner Method

What you will need:

Take your dropper and fill it with acetone; place a few drops onto the paint stain. Let the acetone soak into the stain for 10-12 minutes.

Dab the area with the paper towels, removing the acetone. This will need to be repeated once more.

Now it’s time to use a spot cleaner like this one from Folex. Spray the spot cleaner. Using a toothbrush, gently brush in a side-to-side or circular motion to build up cleansing foam. Allow this foam to soak for 5-6 minutes.

Dry the area by dabbing it with paper towels, ensuring the foam is completely removed. Speed up the drying by dabbing the area with a dry cloth.

The Alcohol and Glycerin Method

What you will need:

Pour the rubbing alcohol onto the paint and let it soak for 15-20 minutes. Dab the stain with paper towels to absorb most of the alcohol.

You can weaken the stain further by applying a few drops of glycerine. The glycerine needs time to infiltrate the paint so you can leave it to soak for a few hours.

Using a toothbrush, gently rub the stain to help lift the paint. Dab the area with a dry cloth to absorb as much of the glycerine and paint as possible. Ensure to use new clothes to dab the site to make sure you are not spreading the paint further.

The Vinegar Method

Supplies you will need:

Mix the white vinegar with cold water using the ratio of 1:10. Funnel the mixture into a sprayer bottle and mix it thoroughly. Apply the mixture directly onto the paint stain. Begin to dab the stain with a sponge that has been dipped into the vinegar mixture.

Using cold water and a new sponge, rinse the area. You can repeat this process until the stain has faded.

Take Precautions

Most of the chemicals used to remove acrylic paint from carpet can be quite harsh, and there are certain precautions one should take to avoid any nasty accidents.

Most of these chemicals are flammable and should be used with extreme caution. Keep them away from any naked flames and dispose of your soaked rags responsibly.

Inhaling these chemicals could also be a danger to your health, and you should ensure you are taking the proper steps to avoid this as much as possible. Always work in a well-ventilated area or, even better, outside.

Another way to prevent inhalation is by wearing a mask over your mouth and nose.

Also, wear gloves! Your skin can absorb certain chemicals, so you must wear gloves at all times while working with them. It is also possible for these toxins to accidentally make contact with your eyes, so you should wear protective eyewear at all times.

Final Thoughts

Always test out your  carpet cleaning solutions on a small spot first to make sure you are not damaging your carpet. Persian or fur carpets, especially, are delicate fabrics that should only be cleaned by a professional.

Ultimately, you should clean the paint stain as soon as it has spilled (as it dries quickly), or you will struggle to get it out.

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About Pat Freling

Pat has been into DIY painting since he was 14 years old. He's painted interior walls, decks, patio, and even the first car that he'd purchased at 18.

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