How to Remove Dried Paint From a Surface

Painting is an inexpensive way to reinvent a room. Painting also is extremely messy. Paint splatters and spills, and drips can land on unwanted surfaces such as floors, walls and countertops. When this happens, it is best to remove the fresh paint by wiping with a damp cloth. Once the paint has dried to the surface, removal is more difficult but not impossible. The method of removal depends greatly on what type of surface the dried paint is on.

Rub the dried paint with a cloth dampened with hot water. Scrub the dried paint vigorously with the cloth. If the paint remains, continue to Step 2.

Plug in a hair dryer near the dried paint and turn it on. Hold the hair dryer a few inches above the dried paint. Move the dryer back and forth for several seconds. Wipe the loosened paint off the surface with a damp cloth. If the heat did not soften the paint, move on to Step 3.

Dampen a rag in turpentine. Rub the dried paint with the turpentine in a circular motion until the dried paint is removed. Wipe the surface clean with a damp cloth. Continue to Step 4 if the paint is still present.

Scrape off the dried paint using a paint scraper. Hold the scraper at a 45-degree angle to the surface and gently but firmly scrape the paint. Be careful not to scratch the surface when scraping. Wipe the surface with a clean, damp cloth.

Apply a small amount of paint thinner to a rag. Blot the dried paint with the rag to soften the paint.

Pat the softened paint with a white cloth until no more paint can be absorbed.

Dampen a clean rag with turpentine. Blot the paint stain with the rag for several minutes. Continue applying turpentine to the rag and blotting the paint stain.

Add a drop or two of waterless hand sanitiser to the stain. Pat the stain with a clean cloth for several minutes.

Pour 2 cups of cool water in a small container. Add 1 tbsp of liquid dish soap and mix with a spoon. Saturate a clean cloth in the mixture. Blot the stain until no more liquid can be absorbed. Continue until the paint stain is gone.

Rinse the area by blotting with a clean cloth dampened with water. Pat dry with a towel.


Wear rubber gloves when working with chemicals to prevent skin irritation. Turpentine is highly flammable. Keep it away from sparks or open flames. Use turpentine in a well-ventilated area.

Things You'll Need

  • White cloths
  • Hair dryer
  • Rags
  • Turpentine
  • Paint scraper
  • Paint thinner
  • Waterless hand sanitiser
  • Small container
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Spoon
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About the Author

Amanda Flanigan began writing professionally in 2007. Flanigan has written for various publications, including WV Living and American Craft Council, and has published several eBooks on craft and garden-related subjects. Flanigan completed two writing courses at Pierpont Community and Technical College.