DIY painting is a great way to freshen up the look and feel of your home without spending a ton of money. It’s also one of the easier home-improvement projects. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to mess up if you don’t have a lot of practice.


I was 17 the first time I painted a house. It was the summer before I moved away for college, and I wanted to save up for a new Macbook Air. I overheard my Aunt Dorothy saying that she needed to repaint the interior of her four-bedroom home, and I offered to do the job in exchange for some extra cash. The project was a disaster, but I learned two valuable lessons. First, I learned how to clean paint out of carpet fibers. I also learned that professional painters are worth every penny.


The project started off great. I taped the base-boards, spread out drop cloths, and moved the furniture. I painted one bathroom and the entire hallway before I ran into any problems. When I got to the living room, I realized that the drop cloth wasn’t big enough to cover the entire space. I foolishly decided to move the drop cloth as I made my way around the room. After painting one lonely wall, it was time to move the drop cloth. In the process, I kicked the paint can and launched it into an unprotected patch of white carpet.


After uttering a few choice expletives, I launched into action. When latex-based paint is still wet, water is your friend. As long as you keep the paint from drying and follow these steps, and you’ll clean up the mess eventually.


  1. Put down a dry towel or sponge and soak up as much paint as possible.

    1. NOTE: Do not scrub the carpet. This will force paint downward into the fibers.

  2. Rinse the sponge in cold water and try to soak up more paint.

  3. Repeat steps one and two until most of the excess paint is absorbed.

  4. Mix lukewarm water with dish soap and pour it over the spot. The warm water and detergent will mix with paint.

  5. Use the sponge to blot up the soapy mixture.

  6. Repeat steps four and five until clean.


I called my Aunt later and said, “I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that I spilled half a can of paint in the middle of the living room. The good news is that it was latex-based...” I won’t tell you her response.

If you need additional tips for cleaning up wet paint, check out this WikiHow guide. If you’re forever done with cleaning, consider hiring local painters.