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How to remove paint with methylated spirits

Updated February 21, 2017

From killing germs to thinning latex paint, methylated spirits has a wide variety of uses. Also known as denatured alcohol, the ability of methylated spirits to dissolve or soften latex makes it a well-suited aid when removing accidental paint splatters from a variety of surfaces, including finished wood, laminate, metal and tile. Use methylated spirits when attempting to remove dried latex paint from paintbrushes as well as certain types of fabrics, carpeting and upholstery.

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  1. Wet a cloth with methylated spirits. Blot the splatters repeatedly with the dampened cloth.

  2. Gently scrape at the spatters with a plastic putty knife or an old credit cart, taking care not too scratch the surface.

  3. Leave the dampened cloth to sit on top of the paint splatters to further soak into and soften the paint, if the splatters to not readily come off with the putty knife.

  4. Soak the paintbrush bristles in a jar with methylated spirits until the paint softens.

  5. Comb through the bristles, using a brush comb or a fork.

  6. Soak the paintbrush again to dislodge any remaining, stuck-on specks.

  7. Wash the paintbrush thoroughly with warm, soapy water. Squeeze and shake the water out of the bristles.

  8. Wrap the bristles in cling film, so they will dry to their original shape. Hang the brush with the bristles pointing down to dry.

  9. Saturate the paint stain with methylated spirits. For carpet, blot the paint with a saturated cloth instead, as pouring methylated spirits on a carpet can cause it to soak in and damage the latex backing.

  10. Leave the methylated spirits to soften the paint for several minutes.

  11. Brush away the softened paint away gently, using a toothbrush. A spoon can also be used to help scrape away the paint.

  12. Wash the item, as usual.

  13. Tip

    While not typically suitable for the removal of entire paint jobs, menthylated spirits can help clean up the residue left behind after stripping pain with other chemical strippers.


    Always test the methylated spirits in an inconspicuous area to ensure it will not cause discolouration or damage the material. Work in a well-ventilated environment and avoid skin contact when using methylated spirits. Keep methylated spirits away from high temperatures and combustibles.

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Things You'll Need

  • Cloths
  • Plastic putty knife or credit card
  • Jar
  • Brush comb or fork
  • Dish soap
  • Cling film
  • Toothbrush
  • Spoon

About the Author

Mason Howard is an artist and writer in Minneapolis. Howard's work has been published in the "Creative Quarterly Journal of Art & Design" and "New American Paintings." He has also written for art exhibition catalogs and publications. Howard's recent writing includes covering popular culture, home improvement, cooking, health and fitness. He received his Master of Fine Arts from the University of Minnesota.

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