Since I haven't completed a single photogenic project yet this week (not that I haven't been working long crazy hours, just that I haven't finished anything pretty), I think this is a good night to answer the most common question I get, "How do I get paint out of this _______?"
"This" can be anything from the carpet to the brand new blouse that you didn't mean to wear into the art room, but you were just running in for a second to grab something, and you remembered you still needed to sign that last thing you painted, and ...other people do this, right?
Basically, the remover depends on the paint, and not so much on the item it's stuck to. If it's oil based paint, which is pretty rare these days, it will come out with mineral spirits when wet, and with acetone (nail polish remover) when dry. It will nearly always stain.
If it's latex/acrylic, it comes out with water when wet, and with denatured or rubbing alcohol when dry. You can usually get the stain completely out. I'll focus on latex, but if it's an oil paint stain, follow the directions, using the products listed above.
First, wet or dry, isolate the area. If it's in carpet (and a small drop), pull the clean fibers aside and use masking tape to cover them and hold them apart. If it's on your honeycomb blinds, slip rolled up paper towel inside the section, so the paint can't soak through to the other side. Same idea on clothing. Once you start working on the stain, you can easily force the paint through a few layers, so don't risk spreading the stain from the front of your favorite blouse to the back of it.
Now, If it's still wet
, dab carefully, using a clean area of rag/paper towel every time you touch the spot. If you force the paint through into towelling behind, carefully remove that, and replace it, as it will just spread back in with the next step if you don't.
Then, using something about the size of the drip (cotton swab, towel-wrapped finger tip, bath towel - wait, no, that comes in later, when we talk about gallons and carpets), dipped in water, start dabbing, then blotting dry with paper towel or tissue. Dab, blot, dab, blot, dab, blot, remove and replace the towelling behind, repeat. Do NOT rub. Rubbing works it deep into fibers, and spreads it. Work slow and patient. Better to be caught trying to get the stain out of the blouse that is in fact your sister's, than to make a bigger mess that might not come out. In carpet, you may want to use a water bottle with a pull spout to squirt drops of water down into the base, to float the paint up. Just use a little bit at a time, and don't over-saturate, until nothing else works.
On synthetic fibers, this will about do the trick. If it seems the paint is really all gone, but you see a faint stain, like from dye, you can usually remove this with a little soap and water. At this point, you will
need to rub to work the soap down into the fibers, then rinse and blot. If it's still stained, you can try dabbing with an Oxy type laundry or carpet product, hydrogen peroxide or bleach. Thing is, if they will remove the trace of dye, they may well remove the original color in the fabric. Test first somewhere it won't show.
For dry paint stains
, first see if you can peel off any of it. If on carpet, is it only on the tips of a few fibers? In this case, use manicure scissors, and using more of a shaving motion than a cutting one, carefully trim/scrape out the spot. Do not cut down into the pile of the carpet! This technique is for when the stain is just right on the tips of the surface!
To remove the remainder of the stain, dab carefully with denatured or rubbing alcohol. You may want to saturate a rag and just hold it against the paint blob for a minute, to soften it. Just like with water, dab, blot, dab, blot ....remove towelling and replace. Repeat until clean. Dab with peroxide, if needed to remove any residual color.
So, what if it's a big splash of paint on carpet
, from the can that tipped, or the loaded brush that flipped out of your hand, into the middle of the room? First, stay calm. It's nobody's fault. There are paint gremlins that cause this, just for sport, only to watch you panic then beat yourself up, or even more entertaining for them, to hear you yell at the person who already feels terrible about it happening. Don't entertain the gremlins. It's like feeding the bears. It encourages them to hang around and mess up everything.
Start by scooping the paint up with a large spoon, spatula, spackling knife, or whatever, then blot the area repeatedly, until nothing more blots up. Next, working on a bit at a time, flood the area with a little water, and blot. BE CAREFUL. Too much water at once will just cause the mess to spread. If your carpet is newer, and especially commercial, this will do the trick completely. If not, you may want to use a carpet shampooer to finish cleaning it, in which case keep the spot covered and damp for the couple of hours it takes to run and rent one. The suction of those things will pull out the last of it.
To avoid these problems in the future, work out of small containers (not the full can), use large enough drop cloths, wrap curtains in plastic or take them down completely, and to keep your clothes clean, paint nude. I haven't tried the last tip, so I make no guarantees as to the advisability of this. You might simply want to keep your mitts off of your sister's wardrobe, and to protect your own, set aside your comfiest sweats to be dedicated paint clothes.
If you just don't want to risk making spots on anything to begin with, you can always hire me. My portfolio can be seen at theartofthehome.com
If you have any painting questions, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
, and I will be happy to answer them to the best of my ability. Really. As much as I would love for all of you who read this to hire me, I'm truly just as pleased to know that you were inspired to try it yourself. Everyone should have as much fun as I do, and wouldn't the world be an even more colorful place if everyone had favorite painting clothes!?