I learned how to get dried paint out of carpet, along with other stains, the day before an appraiser visited as part of our refinancing process. When you see the results below, you’ll know why I just had to share it with you!

How to Get Dried Paint Out of Carpet (and other old stains)

Kids are HARD on Carpets

Like many homeowners, our carpets were spotless when we bought the place. Several years, a couple of kids, cats, and dogs later our carpets looked horrid. We’d always planned to replace them with hardwood flooring, but the cost was overwhelming. In fact, one of the reasons we’d decided to refinance our home was to free up money to start renovating the place.

Having never been through the refinancing process, I was distressed when I found out our refinancing depended on a home appraisal. Suddenly, I couldn’t ignore those carpet stains in the rec room any longer, and I began to look around and saw just how many different stains I needed to treat.

Some I could quickly identify (like dried paint or coffee spills) while others were mysteries (a few of which I’m still telling myself were courtesy of our hairball-prone cats).

My Carpets Were 20+ Years Old!

Let’s get a closer look at a couple of those spots, shall we?

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Purple and green dried paint splatters on an off-white carpet

Dried navy, purple, and green paint…among other things

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Orange cat vomit stain on an off-white carpet

Cat vomit, and one of the reasons I switched them to a different food

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Dried coffee stain on an off-white carpet

I’m pretty sure this is coffee. If it’s not, I don’t want to know.

These Steps Got ALL of the Stains Out.

The good news? I got them ALL out. Every. Single. One. And it only took a day!

Not only did we get approved for refinancing, but we were also so pleased with how our carpets looked that we decided to forego wood floors until our youngest is out of the house.

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Before and after photos showing how to get dried paint out of carpet and the resulting spotless off-white carpet

Not bad, huh? Here’s how I did it.

How to Get Dried Paint Out Of Carpet

1. Treat paint stains. First, I used some awesome stuff called Goo Gone (a/k/a “Goof Off” for U.K. readers). Having used it in the past on crusty paint brushes, I knew it worked on dried paint and figured I’d give it a try on the carpet. After spraying it on, I got out a putty knife to lift up as much of the dried on paint as I could.

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Dried paint stain sprayed with Goo Gone

Spray the area liberally, wait, then begin lifting paint off with the putty knife

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Using a putty knife and Goo Gone to remove dried paint from carpet

Be sure to wipe your putty knife occasionally. See how it’s coming off?

2. Focus on the fibers. After the dried stuff on the carpet surface came away, it was time to start working on the stained carpet fibers themselves. I sprayed a mixture of hot water and Dawn Original (Fairy for U.K. readers) on the carpet. It’s essential to avoid over spraying so you don’t soak the pad, something that can cause mildew.

Once sprayed, I dabbed at it with many, many, many white cloths, transferring the stains from the carpet to the fabric. Like so:

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Wiping with soapy water to remove dried paint from carpet

Plan on using just about every cleaning rag in the house. I did.

Using a white cloth is vital since colored cleaning rags can transfer their dyes back to your carpet, which makes matters worse. An hour later, the dried paint stains were pretty much gone.

Get Pet Stains Out Of Carpet

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Most paint spots removed from carpet

Lots of progress, but still lots of work to be done

Then it was time to tackle the tougher, less readily identifiable stains. Hot water and Dawn didn’t cut it with these, so I had to resort to using one of my least favorite (and yet one of the most useful) cleaning chemicals: household ammonia.

1. Open the windows. Let me warn you: open your windows before opening a bottle of ammonia because that stuff smells awful! Fortunately, the odor won’t stick around after you’ve finished these steps, but it’s sure unpleasant while you’re working with it.

2. Use unscented household ammonia. Mix two tablespoons of ammonia in one cup of very hot water and spray it on the unidentified spots. Again, it’s crucial not to drench the area, so you don’t soak the pad, but you do want to make sure the ammonia is worked into the carpet fibers. For that, you need a stiff-bristled scrub brush. Rub the ammonia in and let it sit for an hour or so.

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Removing cat vomit stains from carpet with a scrub brush

The cat vomit stain is definitely lighter after a good scrubbing

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Removing dried coffee spills from carpet

The mystery stain didn’t lighten up nearly as much after I’d scrubbed

3. Grab a BIG pile of white rags. Blot the ammonia away with clean white rags and go over it with a lightly dampened cloth to neutralize what’s left. Don’t stop here, though: you’ll need to shampoo your carpet as described below.

Get Mystery Stains Out Of Carpet

1. Put heat to work. To get rid of the remaining stains, I used my very favorite trick: ironing them. That’s right, I said iron those stains! Make sure your iron is filled with water and set it to steam. (I have wool carpets, so I used the highest setting. If yours are nylon or a synthetic blend, use the LOW setting.) Place a clean white cloth over the stain and iron it, keeping the iron in constant motion, for 20 seconds or so. Lift, rotate the fabric to a clean spot and repeat.

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Using an iron and a damp white cloth to remove a carpet stain

Keep your iron moving, unless you’re pausing for just a second to take a picture!

2. You need a lot of rags for this, too. Be sure to change your cloth frequently because, as the heat and steam combine with the ammonia, it will lift that stain out of your carpet and transfer it to your rag. See what I mean?

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Removing dried stains from carpet

Not perfect — yet — but SO much better!

Shampoo Your Carpet

1. Use plain water the first time. When I was satisfied the stains were gone, I broke out the big equipment: my trusty carpet cleaner. For the first pass, I used just plain hot water since I figured there was probably still some ammonia residue, and I’d already sprayed soapy water on the spots. My real goal was sucking out any remaining moisture.

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Iron to one side of photo shows that the stain is gone

The first pass with the steam cleaner looked pretty good, but I was sure it could get better.

2. Then use this mixture the second time. To neutralize the ammonia and ensure that I’d removed all of the stains, I shampooed the carpet a second time by filling one-quarter of the tank with white vinegar then topping it off with water.

How to Get Dried Paint out of Carpet - Dried paint stains, pet stains, and spilled coffee stains successfully removed from carpeting

Stains? What stains? They’re gone!

And look, they’re spotless!

Do you see that? DO YOU? Not bad for a 20+-year-old carpet!