Painting your home can be a fun, therapeutic, creative activity.
Whether you’re painting peaceful natural landscapes, redoing the walls of your house, or adding some accent colors to a room, two things are for sure: it will be a fun project…and it will be messy.
As much fun as painting is, cleaning up the mess afterward is always a drag.
This can be especially true when dealing with oil-based paints, which can seem impossible to clean off surfaces (like carpets) at times.
It’s true that oil paint can be difficult, if not impossible, to remove. But, in most cases, you can clean up just about any oil paint mess with the right tools and enough effort.
In this article, I’ll discuss what makes oil paint so challenging to remove and what products you can use to clean it up in various situations.
How Long Does Oil-Based Paint Take to Dry?
The biggest factor in cleaning up oil-based paint is time.
The sooner you clean up the paint, the easier it is because the paint has not had enough time to dry into the material.
While it can take several hours to days for oil paint to dry fully, the process begins pretty much as soon as it has adhered to a surface.
So as soon as paint gets onto a surface you don’t want it on, it is important to begin trying to remove it immediately.
That means it’s smart to have cleaning materials on hand before you start painting.
The last thing you want is to have to run to the store to grab cleaner after a mess has been made—wasting precious time while the paint sets in.
So, what cleaners do you need to purchase before you paint so you can be ready?
What Removes Oil-Based Paint?
When it’s about cleaning the oil paint out of the carpet, you should know what products to use.
For cleaning the carpet fast and avoiding stains, I recommend that you use some household agents that are readily available and can be used conveniently without any hassle.
I found turpentine, paint thinner and mineral spirits very useful when used in small quantities.
These are usually the go-to products for cleaning out oil-based paints from a variety of surfaces. All of them are strong chemicals designed to thin out the paint to the point that it can be removed with soap and water.
However, when using mineral spirits on rugs, remember to use them only in a minimum quantity to avoid damaging the fabric.
After you have put some, clean it with water immediately.
If you don’t want to deal with the hazards and chemical fumes of turpentine and spirits, a more natural solution is a citrus solvent.
Let it set into the paint for about 15-20 minutes before scrubbing it out.
You can even use it safely to clean oil off the luxury carpet – like the spills that might happen when applying teak oil to your wood furniture.
Depending on what surface the paint has adhered to, you might also be able to use essential oils and coconut oil to remove fresh paint.
These oils are most useful when removing paint from skin, hair, and hands, though, and less useful in other situations.
How to Get Oil-Based Paint Out Of Carpet?
Now, let’s get into the specifics.
Let’s say you (or your child) got a little carried away while painting and spilled some on your beautiful carpet.
There’s no time to panic; you have to act quickly if you want to save your house.
Step # One
Immediately dab a paper towel or rag with a paint remover of your choice and blot it onto the wet paint stain.
Make sure not to rub or smear the cleaner on the carpet – this will just spread the paint and rub it deeper into the carpet fibers.
The solvent should work well to remove wet paint stains, but you may have some paint that has been set and dried into the carpet fibers.
To deal with this, let’s move to step two.
Step # Two
Soften the dry paint using a carpet steamer.
Steaming the carpet will rehydrate the paint and help it separate from the carpet fibers, making step three possible.
When you are steaming, a good rule of thumb is to heat the spot up to 285 degrees Fahrenheit, as this will be hot enough to loosen the paint without damaging most types of carpets.
Still, use caution when steaming.
If you are unsure whether the steamer will damage your carpet, try it out on a small, unnoticeable patch first.
Step # Three
As the paint softens, get down there and pick it away with a pin or needle.
The soft paint should now come away with a little effort without damaging the carpet fibers.
However, if you find that the paint is still too dry to pick out of the carpet, try steaming it again for some more time.
Other Home Remedies to Remove Dried Paint from Carpet
Soapy water, dishwashing liquid, or mild detergent can be good alternatives to remove water-based paints such as dried chalk paint, latex paint, or acrylic paint.
But to remove dried oil-based alkyd paints and primer, you need something extra.
Rubbing alcohol can do this paint removal job well on your carpet.
Apply a bit of alcohol to the cotton cloth and gently rub it against the spill, followed by rubbing it with soapy water.
Repeat the process 1-2 times until you see the glossy paint gone, then vacuum the rug properly once it’s dry.
If you do not want to use chemicals such as acetone and alcohol, you can use products like WD-40, nail polish remover (non-acetone), and vinegar.
These will dissolve not only enamel paints but also wood stain, varnish, polyurethane, and epoxy resin.
If it’s the oil stains (like the dried coconut oil, essential oil, or mineral oil) you need to get off the carpet, try sprinkling some baking soda or cornstarch.
Let it sit for 15 minutes to soak up the oil, and then vacuum the powder away.
Avoid using bleach for your carpets at home or in your vehicle as it’s too harsh and can damage or cause discoloration.
The Bottom Line
Spilled oil-based paint or even spills of kid’s paint (used for their oil painting) can ruin your carpet finish or other upholstery if dried.
Especially if it’s a dark enamel paint color (like black, brown, red, or blue) on the light-colored rugs.
Getting them removed as soon as possible is better to avoid getting the stains demanding.
Use your preferred product to remove the wall paint from rugs and follow the abovementioned guidelines. Certainly, you will get your at-home carpets or those in the car restored within no time.
Jack Luis is a semi-retired painter who loved painting his clients’ ideas on their walls.
He had worked as a painter for more than a decade to serve the customers in areas such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Beaufort, Georgetown, SC (South Carolina). Today in his free time, he likes to read and write about the newer techniques that are being implemented in his profession. You may read more about him here or get in touch with him here.
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