How to Get Paint Off Hardwood Floors

By: Elizabeth Seward & Yara Simón  | 
Child in purple pants standing on hardwood floor with green paint everywhere
Don't panic. Elva Etienne / Getty Images

Perhaps you were feeling lucky and didn't use a drop cloth to protect your wood floors. Or maybe you clumsily knocked over your tray and all the paint splattered over your floor. Regardless, you need to figure out how to get paint off hardwood floors, and fast.

Luckily, your paint spills do not have to taunt you forever. There are several methods you can try to remedy your painting accidents.


Water-based vs. Oil-based Paints

It takes more effort to remove oil-based paint than water-based paint. If you are unsure what kind of paint stain you are dealing with, take a cotton ball moistened with alcohol to the affected area. If the cotton ball does not pick up any paint, then it is an oil-based paint.


How to Remove Paint From Wood Floors

With a fresh paint spill, you want to act quickly, wiping with a damp cloth. Rinse the cloth as you wipe off the wet paint before using a cleaner that won't strip the wood floor's finish.

With a little elbow grease, you can remove wet or hardened paint from your floor. Here are a few methods you can try.


Option A: Rubbing Alcohol and Lemon Juice

These two everyday items will do the trick and remove water-based latex paint from your hardwood flooring.

  1. Make your formula. Mix 3/4 cup (177 mL) of rubbing alcohol and 1/4 cup (59 mL) of lemon juice together.
  2. Scrape what you can. Using a plastic putty knife or another non-metallic edge, gently scrape off what you can of the paint, moving in the same direction as the wood grain.
  3. Wash the rest away. Using an old toothbrush or scrubber, rub the remaining paint away with the formula you made.

Option B: Dishwashing Liquid and Water

It doesn't get much simpler than water and soap. This method works best on water-based latex paint.

  1. Mix water and soap. To 2 cups (473 mL) of warm water, add a few drops of dishwashing soap.
  2. Wipe the affected area. Wet a microfiber cloth in the water and soap. Wring out the excess moisture, ensuring you are left with a damp rag, and wipe your floors.
  3. If that fails, scrape. If the soap-and-water mixture doesn't lift the dried paint, try scraping. Without putting too much pressure on the floor, use a plastic putty knife or a similar tool to scrape off the paint splatter.

Option C: Heat Gun

If paint residue persists, take a heat gun to the wood floor. Apply heat, being careful not too linger on any spot for too long. The heat should soften the paint, allowing you to remove it with a putty knife.

Option D: Store-bought Options

Sometimes DIY solutions are no match for stubborn paint splatters. At that point, you can turn to store-bought options.

  • Paint remover: Commercial paint removers lift paint from surfaces like wood furniture and floors. Follow the instructions on the paint stripper for best results.
  • Paint thinner: This option can remove the finish from hardwood floor, so be careful when applying it. Paint thinner is a good option for oil-based paints but not water-based ones, like acrylic paint.