How to Remove Wet Paint

Updated February 21, 2017

When paint accidentally drips or splatters onto an area where it does not belong, panic can ensue. If you notice the mishap before the paint has a chance to dry, you have an excellent chance of removing it. However, you will need to work quickly--even partially dried paint is considerably more difficult to remove than wet paint. In addition, you will need to use the right materials and techniques, or you could end up ruining the very surface you are trying to save.

Blot wet paint on carpet or fabric with a dry rag. Do not wipe the paint as this may cause it to smear. Soak up as much paint as possible.

Apply a few drops of fluid to the paint to prevent it from drying. Use white spirit on oil-based paints. Use water on latex paints.

Dampen a rag with water if you need to clean latex paint. Dampen the rag with white spirit if you are trying to remove oil-based paint.

Scrub the paint free using the damp rag. Scrub in a circular, counter-clockwise motion.


Always use white spirit to remove oil-based paints and water to remove latex paints. If you need to remove wet paint from a hard surface like glass, metal or wood, simply wipe the paint away with a cloth dampened with water or white spirit, depending on the type of paint you are working with.


Do not use harsh cleaners to remove wet paint. This may cause the paint to melt and bond to the surface. Do not use white spirit to remove wet latex paint as this will cause the stain to set. Likewise, do not use water to remove wet oil-based paint; water will cause the paint to spread. Do not confuse white spirit with lacquer thinner, a much harsher solvent that can damage some surfaces.

Things You'll Need

  • Rags
  • Water
  • White spirit
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About the Author

Ryan Lawrence is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado. He has been writing professionally since 1999. He has 10 years of experience as a professional painting contractor. Lawrence writes for High Class Blogs and Yodle. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with a minor in history from the University of Oklahoma.