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By Jeanne Sager

Painting can be hellishly messy, but there are plenty of ways to clean up any accidents. The amount of work you’ll need to do depends on a few things, including the kind of paint you used and whether it’s still wet or dry. Here’s what to do in each scenario.

Removing paint from wood floors, baseboards, and window frames

One of the most common areas where you’ll find yourself having to remove paint is the wood that’s all around your freshly painted walls, from the baseboards to the door trim to the windowsill.

For latex paint: Latex is what’s usually used for walls and ceilings. And you’re in luck if that’s what you’re facing! “Latex paint cleans very easily,” says Scott Specker, owner of Five Star Painting, in Cumming, GA. If the paint is still wet, wiping the area with a wet paper towel should be sufficient. If the paint has dried, grab a credit card from your wallet and scrape along the drip. “The paint will lift up,” Specker says.

For oil-based paint: If you used an oil-based paint—sometimes used for smaller areas such as the trim or baseboards because it’s more durable than latex—you’ll need to dig into your cleaning supplies for paint thinner or mineral spirits (both are available at home improvement stores). This type of solvent is usually used to remove grease from tools. Whether the oil paint is wet or dry, “simply use a rag with a small amount of thinner applied and wipe up the splattered paint,” Specker says.

How to remove paint from glass

Although many surfaces can (and should) be covered before a paint job, most homeowners tape off only the edges of their windows, allowing the outside light inside to help make it easier to see what they’re doing. As such, windows often end up with a few drops of paint during a DIY job. But luckily glass is not porous, so removing paint from it is fairly easy.

For both latex and oil-based paints: If the paint is wet, grab a dry or slightly damp paper towel and rub. This should pick up the paint with little effort. If the paint is dry, gently run a flat-edge paint scraper or razor blade across the paint drops, says Sheldon Gasek of the Best Handyman, in Milwaukee.

How to remove paint from brick, concrete, or other stone

If some of your paint dripped on your brick fireplace or similar stone, be prepared to put a little elbow grease into the process. Unless they’ve been pretreated (as some stone countertops are), stone surfaces are porous, and paint tends to soak in if it isn’t cleaned up quickly.

For latex paint: “A product like Goof Off is great for removing dried latex paint from concrete, brick, and stone,” Gasek says. Goof Off is a commercial solvent, and products like it on the market can pull up not just paint but also gum and other adhesives. Pour or dab the solvent on your paint drops, and let it soak in for a few minutes. Using a paper towel or old rag, rub at the spot. If all of the paint doesn’t lift off immediately, repeat as needed. If the paint isn’t coming up after two or three treatments, Gasek say’s it’s time to grab a wire brush to help the Goof Off get into the uneven surface. Add more solvent to the surface, and put a little work into scrubbing.

For oil-based paint: Like oil-based paint on wood, an oil-based spill on stone will require you to use a paint thinner or mineral oil. Using an old rag, apply the paint thinner or mineral oil to the spill. Allow it to sit for a few minutes before scrubbing with the rag. Again, a steel brush or scraper is useful to finish the cleanup.

How to remove paint from carpet, furniture, and other fabric

If the paint has settled into carpet or fabric furniture, things get a bit trickier. But all is not lost!

For both latex and oil-based paint: If the paint is wet, Merry Maids’ home cleaning expert Debra Johnson suggests pulling it up from the carpet or other fabric with a paper towel, then gently blotting the excess with a damp microfiber cloth. If the paint is dry, Johnson suggests mixing a solution of hot water and a tablespoon of liquid dish detergent. Use a microfiber cloth to apply the solution to the drip on the carpet, then allow the mixture to sit for several minutes. Once the paint softens, follow the same procedure you would use for wet paint: Scrape or pull with a dry paper towel. If you have got some glycerin on hand, pouring a few drops on the towel, which may help loosen the paint as well.

If that’s not working, it’s time to pull out the big guns! Older paint drips on fabric can be loosened with commercial cleaning agents such as Goof Off or WD-40, but beware—you should do a spot test in an inconspicuous area first, as a cleaner can do more damage than the paint itself.

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