How To Clean Up A Paint Spill

paint cans spill

When painting, spills are common. How do you clean them up best? Take a look at some of these methods for paint spills on a number of surfaces.


Even the most careful DIYers have accidents sometimes. After a long day of painting, you may pick up your drop cloth to find that you’ve splattered paint all over the floor. Thankfully you have many options when it comes to removing those splatters.

Alcohol on tile

If you splattered paint on your tile or linoleum floor, then you’re in the luckiest group of messy painters. Getting paint off of tile and linoleum is the easiest of the paint-removal jobs. In many cases, you just have to let some rubbing alcohol soak into the paint splatter for a minute or so. Then wiping it away with a towel is a breeze. Even if you have to scrape a little, you won’t have to do much of it.

Citrus for hardwood

Getting paint off of hardwood floors or baseboards (or even furniture!) is trickier because you don’t want to damage the wood. Start with a citrus-based cleaning agent like Goo Gone or Mr. Clean. You may have to soak the paint splatters multiple times because you don’t want the liquid to seep into the floor for too long at once. You’ll probably have to scrape some, but make sure not to use a sharp edge as you may damage the floor. A credit card edge is a good place to start, but only after you’ve tried a brush.

You may also have luck combining cleaning agents with warm soapy water and gently brushing or scraping. With hardwood, it’s better to soak and reapply the cleaner multiple times rather than resort to harsh scraping or astringent chemicals. It’s ultimately easier to remove a paint splatter than to fix a gouge or a discoloration in your wood.

Scrubbing (and scissors) with carpet

Unfortunately, paint splatter is probably more obvious on your carpet than it is on your hardwood or tile floor, and it’s also harder to remove. The best place to start is to try picking the dried paint out of the carpet with water and a brush. You’ll have to scrub pretty hard to get anywhere. You may also want something pointy, like needle nose pliers, to get at big clumps. If you think you’re getting most of it to flake off, vacuum over the area to check your progress.

You can try harsh cleaners, but they’re likely to discolor your carpet. Unless you’re working with a very small paint splatter, stick to scrubbing. Once you’ve flaked off as much dried paint as you can, you may need the scissors. If you’re lucky, it’ll just be the very top of the carpet that got stained. By being very careful and attentive, you may be able to clip the stained layer off the top of the carpet. Start small and step back constantly to observe the area.

Paint comes off of some surfaces much easier than others. If the worst happens and you can’t get that paint splatter out, it may be time for a cute new area rug or a great piece of accent furniture!




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