How to Remove Paint Stains from Carpet & More Great Reader Tips

Want to get latex paint out of carpet, upholstery, or any other kind of fabric―even if it’s an old stain that is dried up? No problem!


You’ll need:

✅ lacquer thinner

✅ clean white cloth

Using a clean white cloth, saturate the stain with any brand of lacquer thinner—not paint thinner, not mineral spirits, or anything else you might be tempted to substitute. It must be lacquer thinner. Find it in the paint aisle at stores like Home Depot, Lowes, Ace Hardware or online. And only a white cloth so there is no chance of transferring the color from the cloth to carpet or other such items to be cleaned.

Allow the lacquer thinner to sit for a few moments to soften the paint so you can scrape, blot, and/or scrub it out with the application cloth.

Depending on how old the latex (water-based) paint stain is, you may have to repeat this process several times, but it will come out without leaving a bigger problem in its wake.

I don’t know why this is such a favorite tip of mine. Maybe because it’s such a dramatic rescue for a sloppy painter like myself.

Caution: Lacquer thinner is highly combustible, so don’t wad up that cloth and throw it in a bucket. Instead, allow it to air dry, then launder or dispose of it appropriately.

Every day, readers of this column send in their favorite tips. Here’s a sampling for your reading pleasure:

Handy zipper pull

The pull on the zipper of my snow boot broke, and I replaced it with a split keyring circle (any kind will do, but this type is especially useful and attractive). Now I can grab it quickly, even while wearing gloves. Ronald

Cleaning machine

I use my dishwasher to clean lots of things. I just make sure to put delicate items on the top rack and also secure the small items with clothespins or place them in baskets so they don’t fly around.

I wash stove knobs, baby bottles, drain stoppers for the kitchen sink, small trash cans, kids toys and refrigerator shelves. I even wash diaper bags and baby bottle bags in the dishwasher so the insides get clean and sanitized. I use my regular amount of automatic dishwasher detergent. It works better than any other cleaning method for just about anything I can fit in there. Colleen

Like Pedialyte

At more than $5 per liter, Pedialyte (an over-the-counter product that contains balanced amounts of sugar and sodium to help prevent dehydration symptoms in adults and children) is not cheap! But making it yourself is. Here’s how:

Mix 1 quart sterile (boiled) water, 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 1 teaspoon unsweetened Kool-Aid powder (or to taste). Keep refrigerated and use within a couple of days. Tom

(NOTE: Always consult with your healthcare professional before substituting a prescribed treatment with a homemade version. –mh)

No more soggy salad

If you are taking salad for lunch, pour the amount of dressing you will need into the bottom corner of a small plastic sandwich bag. Put a twist tie above the dressing and cut off the rest of the bag. When you are ready to eat, just snip off the corner and squeeze the dressing into your salad. Kristine

Mac n’ Cheese my way

My toddler eats only a small portion of a box of macaroni and cheese. Leftover mac and cheese is never a hit in our house, plus the individual packs are too pricey. Instead, I buy the boxes when they are on sale and store the cheese powder and noodles in separate jars. Then I can prepare individual servings as needed. I use 1/3 cup of dry noodles and one heaping tablespoon each of cheese powder, butter and milk. Michel

Toilet clean

Drop in one or two denture tablets to get rid of mineral rings in the toilet. Check its progress in 30 minutes—or go ahead and leave it overnight. Flush. The toilet should be sparkling clean. Amy

Organized home

I hang a shoe bag inside my coat closet door near the front of my house. In it, my family members store their gloves, scarves, sunglasses, and even the dog’s leash for a quick and organized morning departure. Steve

Nature’s car wash

I save water by washing my car with the dew in the early morning. The condensation on my car and the sponge’s suds do the trick. After the scrub down, I turn on the hose for a quick rinse. Helen

Strategic hit

To get a dark stain out of white and light-colored clothing, I dip a Q-tip in Hydrogen Peroxide and apply it to the spot. I let it work overnight and it bleaches the stain without bleaching the item. Rachel

Trade show bags

I have accumulated many cloth tote bags over the years from different seminars I’ve attended or book clubs I’ve joined. Instead of purchasing reusable bags for groceries, I use my tote bags instead. They are machine washable, and I can save money and the environment by recycling them. Cindy

Chip clips

Several years ago, I bought a package of plastic clothespins to use in the kitchen. I bought colors that match my décor and I use them for re-closing plastic bread bags, chip bags, sugar bags, and others. Jean

Pumped up

I save on expenses by putting all kinds of dish soap, body wash, shampoo, and liquid soap in pump containers. I find that I use much less soap for the same job done when it is in a dispenser. Now I buy soaps and body-wash much less often. Tess

Roller pan liner

To avoid cleaning a roller pan when I paint, I slip it into a large plastic supermarket store bag and pour the paint onto the bag over the pan. After painting, I simply turn the bag inside out and discard it. Then, I am left with a clean roller pan. It saves a lot of time and costs nothing! Tony

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9 replies
  1. Carolyn Campbell says:

    Want to end foot odor forever? I keep a spray bottle of Listerine (or the Equate imitation with the exact ingredients for cheaper) in my shower. Before I leave the shower, I spray my feet with it. It not only kills the germs that cause bad breath, it kills the germs that cause foot odor. I’ve been doing this for years and none of my shoes ever developed odor after I started the Listerine treatment.

  2. Kristen says:

    Hi Mary, do either you or your readers have any tips on how to get red wax out of white velvet? There was an accident at my house involving a red candle and a white couch. UGHHHH

  3. Carolyn says:

    Every morning I boil water for a pot of tea. I add an extra cup of water to pour, boiling hot, over my two kitchen sponges, squeezing them dry after about five minutes when cool enough to handle, standing them up to air dry over as much surface as possible. They NEVER smell anything but fresh and clean, every single day. I buy a pack of expandable sponges at Trader Joe’s that lasts for years, not weeks or months.

  4. Ann says:

    When I’m in the cleaning mode, ie…….closets, basement, garage, I tackle it the day before “garbage pickup day .” Next day…….stuff gone!!!

  5. Shannon says:

    The purpose of the initial rinse when washing a car is to remove loose debris that may scratch the paint. Jumping in with a soapy wipe down risks damaging the finish.


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