How to Clean Up Latex Paint Spills

When you’re painting around your house, you should be as careful as possible. Latex paint is the most common type of paint used indoors and outdoors. It can be used for interior and exterior painting. If you need to paint something, you should prepare beforehand to minimize the chance of spills or painting something you didn’t intend to. First, you should lay down painter’s tape on anything that you don’t want painted on the wall you’re painting. If you don’t want drips on a floor or other surface, you should cover it in a drop cloth or plastic sheeting. However, you’re not perfect. In some cases, you might get latex paint on something you don’t intend. So, what should you do if the paint gets somewhere it shouldn’t?

Cleaning Wet Paint

Latex paint is a water-based paint. So, cleaning it up when it’s wet is simply. Use an absorbent cloth you don’t mind staining. While it’s still wet, you can also use water or soapy water to clean up the paint. If the paint starts drying, cleaning it up can be a little bit more difficult.

Cleaning Dry Paint

If the paint is dry, you need to reintroduce moisture to the paint. Depending on what surface the paint is on will determine how it will be rehydrated. If the paint is on carpet or some other fabric, you need to moisten it in a way that’s color safe. If you were cleaning paint off brick or concrete, you could just use an industrial solvent or paint stripper. That would eat away at the pigment on your fabric, though; it might also dissolve the fabric itself. For cleaning fabric, you’ll need water or soapy water. Warmer water is better. The heat will help loosen the paint. Soak the stained area for about twenty minutes. A spray on lubricant such as WD-40 has been shown to be effective as well.

There are also milder solvents such as rubbing alcohol or nail polish remover that could react with the paint to help remove it. Test those on a very small, out of the way section of fabric to make sure they’re safe for the fabric. You’ll likely need to apply them several times to get the paint completely off.

Lastly, if you’re cleaning dry paint off something like masonry, wood, or metal, you can also use pressure. A pressure washer will often take paint off with minimal effort. You might need to soften it with a solvent first, though.