Well, I didn't see that coming...
October 2, 2011 8:47 PM   Subscribe

What do I do about spilled paint on the carpet. Well beyond "oops," much more "omgomgomg."

I spilled paint on the carpet today. We seem to have managed what spilled on tile, and what splashed on the door. And we will have to repaint a section of the wall, which is no problem. But the carpet is a problem: a 4ft x 6ft patch is pretty blue now.

We live in a rental, so we're not terribly interested in re-carpeting the entire apartment. But we'd also like the place to be livable for the next year (and not have to stare at my mistake every day), and would hopefully get some portion of the deposit back.

I'm woefully ignorant here. Is it possible to clean this once the paint dries? We've given up for the night, but I'm going to be devoted to fixing this for a while. Barring that, is it possible to replace this size section of carpet? How do we find a carpet fragment the same make, model, and color of the carpet in our apartment? If I ask the management company, will they tell me the type without giving me a black mark on my deposit?

Please help! I'm happy to pay a professional to fix my mistake, but don't really know if that's necessary, or who to call, or what to ask once I'm on the phone.

If it is helpful, we're in Boston, and it's blue valspar interior matte paint.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated to Home & Garden (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Is it latex or oil-based? If it's latex, what I would do is go rent a carpet steam-cleaner right this very instant and keep running it over and over and over that section of the carpet, diluting with more water as necessary. Do NOT let it dry. I don't know if that would work, but it seems like it would stand a chance.

If it's oil-based you may be fucked.
posted by KathrynT at 8:53 PM on October 2, 2011

Rubbing alcohol will dissolve dried latex paint without destroying the carpet. But it's best if you can get it taken care of while it's still wet. Get a shop vac and vacuum the hell out of it, diluting when necessary like KathrynT suggested.
posted by elsietheeel at 8:59 PM on October 2, 2011

How to remove dried paint from carpet. I have had success with scraping the paint using the edge of the vacuum cleaner nozzle.
posted by JujuB at 8:59 PM on October 2, 2011

Response by poster: The paint is of this type. The webpage doesn't include the words "oil" or "latex." It does say acrylic, though. Is that a different thing?
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 9:05 PM on October 2, 2011

Oh, man, this happened to me a few years back, on my very first night in a new apartment, the better part of a just-opened gallon of bright green on pale beige carpet. So awesome.

KEEP IT WET. You have the best possible chance if you can just keep it wet.

We scraped up as much excess as we could with paper towels (shrieking hysterically the whole time), then got a huge bath towel that fully covered the spot and dumped it in cold water. We put the soaking wet towel over the spot and basically kept it as wet as possible for as long as it took. Every day the spot got a little bit lighter. Eventually it all came out, every last drop. Thank god.

It took another couple days after that to fully dry out the carpet, we trained a bunch of fans on the carpet 24-7 until it was completely dry.

Good luck.
posted by anderjen at 9:11 PM on October 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

The webpage you linked to says the paint can be cleaned up with soap and water. That means it is not an oil base paint.
posted by JujuB at 9:16 PM on October 2, 2011

As someone who knows a couple rental property owners, none of them would want you to replace the carpet yourself (whether you do it yourself or hire someone). They have outfits they prefer to deal with and whose quality they find acceptable. So if worse comes to worse and it does need to be replaced, get a quote from the management company for the people they want to hire.
posted by sbutler at 9:17 PM on October 2, 2011

Agreed, keep it wet. Whatever other methods you use, this is key.

Personally, I'd try to find a steam vac place right away, like now or at first light (I'm in a modest city and there's a 24/7 grocery store that rents them). They not only inject water into the carpet, they suck right back up what they spray on it, so you can get a continuous cycle of cleaning every time you move it. With a shopvac, you'd have to be adding water yourself, and it would be a bit more of a pain. Add some light-duty detergent as for dishes.
posted by dhartung at 10:16 PM on October 2, 2011

The web page says "latex" under the specifications tab, for what it's worth. I think the steam cleaning route would probably be best as well.
posted by disillusioned at 11:42 PM on October 2, 2011

I've done this and was recommended a product I've only seen at Home Depot / Lowe's (it was a contractor's recommendation). It's called Capture - it's a two-step process - a mist to loosen the stain and then a powder that you rub in, then vaccuum out. I think I needed to do the powder application more than once, but I know it got cobalt blue paint off a white carpet so that you never saw any sign of it.
posted by Mchelly at 4:20 AM on October 3, 2011

Best answer: Paint is (at the most basic) very fine colored powder mixed with glue. So you have to keep the glue from drying and keep diluting the powder until it is gone. Yes, the answer is keep it wet and rent a carpet cleaner. It will take all day.

If it is already dry-ish, still keep it wet. The drier it gets, the harder it is to clean up.
posted by gjc at 5:52 AM on October 3, 2011

Just get a rug so you don't have to look at it. More than likely they were already going to replace the carpet when you move out. I did this in my living room in an apartment, only with bleach - a lot of bleach, don't ask - and they laughed about it when I moved. Didn't matter at all.
posted by hypersloth at 10:54 AM on October 3, 2011

Acrylic paint is going to be dry inside ten minutes.

Replacement. We're not talking a full-room replacement; they'd just cut the stained bit out and put a new clean bit in, and the seams would be invisible. You could call a carpeting place to get that done.

I'd just put a rug over it for now.
posted by Sys Rq at 3:55 PM on October 3, 2011

Response by poster: If anyone ever googles this and wants to know: I went to bed shortly after all of this advice. Due to a flexible schedule, I had the great joy of scrubbing the floor for 8 hours straight the following day. That particular kind of paint stays moist enough to be "wet" for probably about 10 hours or so, with wet meaning "easy enough to clean."

Anyway, about half of it came up easy, and half really hard. I used isopropyl alcohol, a stiff scrub brush, and a bucket, like $15 at home depot.

It suuuuucks, but it might not be too hard to recover a reasonable carpet! There is hope!
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 7:41 PM on November 2, 2011

Response by poster: er, is easy enough to clean 10 hours or so after the spill. So, if like me you go to bed until home depot opens, then wake up a bit late, before buying the stuff you need, it gives you about 2 hours until it gets unpleasant.
posted by bessel functions seem unnecessarily complicated at 7:44 PM on November 2, 2011

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