How to Remove Dried Water-based Paint from Your Walls

A splatter of red paint dried on a white wall.
What You'll Need
Razor blades
Rubbing alcohol
Microfiber cloth
Painters tape

Water-based paint is used for interior surfaces because it does not need the durability of acrylic paint. Latex paint is another term used, despite it not actually having any latex in the formula. If you are painting a ceiling, wood trim, or a baseboard, you may find yourself with a mild cleanup on your hands. Removing water-based paint while still wet is easy, but when it dries, the process is a little different. This article will show you just what you need to do it yourself, and do it right.

Step 1 - Clean the Wall

In one gallon of water, mix about a half teaspoon of soap and shake the bucket until suds form. Take a sponge and dip it into the water. You want to saturate it but still wring it out to remove excess liquid as you do not want to soak the paint, just clean it. Then, wipe down the wall with the sponge to remove any dirt or grime that may have accumulated. This alone may remove the dried water-based paint if it's recent. Do not rub or scrub with the wet sponge; you merely want to gently wipe the wall down. Allow the area to air dry after before you continue.

Step 2 - Use a Razor Blade for Removal

You'll not often use a razor blade to remove dried paint but it can come in handy on large dried globules. If you're dealing with splatter or slight streaking, on the other hand, then do not worry about using a razor blade.

Place the razor's edge at a 45-degree angle on the edge of the paint blob. Use only light pressure as you slide the razor along the bottom of the globule. Go very slowly as you scrape the paint away. If there are any mistakes, like other paint being removed from the wall, make sure you have the materials handy for quick touch-ups. Any gaps or holes can be filled, sanded, and then painted.

Step 3 - Finish with Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is able to break down many substances one of which is paint, and it can be used to remove oil-based paint and water-based paint as well. Just pour a very small amount on a microfiber towel, and place it over two of your fingers so that the alcohol is over your fingertips. Do not use a lot of force when rubbing the paint because you do not want to remove the actual topcoat you want on the wall. Once the paint begins to smear; use a clean towel to remove the mark. Continue in this manner until all of the unwanted paint is removed.

In the future, make use of the painter's tape to section off the baseboard and trim before painting, as getting latex paint on a wall is typically a byproduct of working on these areas. You will be putting forth the effort that goes with painting in the first place, so don't make more work for yourself at cleanup time.