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Paint Spill? Don’t Panic

Spring into action while it’s still wet, and it’s likely that latex can be removed from almost any surface

Carpet

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It won’t be easy, but with the right tools, it’s doable. First, use a plastic putty knife to scoop up as much paint as possible. Next, mix a solution of warm water and dish soap (1 cup : ½ tsp.) in a spray bottle. Squirt the stain with the solution, then immediately run a wet/dry vac over the area; repeat until paint is gone. Use a clean, dry rag to mop up any remaining moisture.

Wood

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On sealed wood, confine the spill with pieces of absorbent material like cardboard or cloth. Use these to sop or pick up what you can, then finish with a wet sponge or rag. Untreated wood is trickier: Speed is key to keeping the paint from penetrating the grain. Remove paint using a clean, dry rag for each pass. Then wet the area with rubbing alcohol and rub with yet another clean rag until all traces of paint are gone.

Concrete

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Using newspaper, paper towels, or rags, wipe up everything you can. Then scour with a nylon scrub brush to get up any paint clinging to the rough surface. Rinse with a bucket of water, and repeat until clean. Going back over the area with a hose or pressure-washer should completely erase the evidence.

Vinyl and Linoleum

Photo by Claudio Divizia/Shutterstock

Accidents are unplanned by definition, but if you’re going to stumble and knock over a can of paint, experts say this is the best type of surface on which to do it. Most vinyl and linoleum floors come sealed with a protective clear coat, so it’s a matter of mopping up your spill with warm water and rags. Seams are the only places where color might linger, so give them special attention.

Tile

Photo by Dmitri Popov/EyeEm/Getty Images

Do damage control as quickly as possible. Using warm water and rags, contain the spill to keep paint from flowing into the grout lines. (Don’t wipe inside the grout lines! You could press pigment into them.) After you’ve removed as much paint as you can, dip an old toothbrush in a solution of soap and water, and scrub in the direction of the grout lines. Rinse with warm water, and repeat.

Thanks to: Mauro Henrique, Mauro’s Painting; Jerry Bennett, Strosnider’s Hardware.