How to Remove Spilled Paint From Finished Furniture

Even when you are very careful while painting, spills can easily happen.

How to Remove Spilled Paint From Finished Furniture

Fortunately, water-based paint--which is more commonly used indoors than oil-based paint--is not difficult to clean off of finished wood furniture as long as the paint is still wet. If the paint is allowed to dry first, the job becomes much more difficult, especially if you are concerned about harming the furniture's finish. Therefore, you should act as quickly as possible to clean up paint spilled on furniture.

Sop up as much of the paint as you can in the beginning. Do this using absorbent paper towels or whatever absorbent material is at hand. If a large quantity has spilled on the furniture, push the paint to one edge of the surface and over onto another paper towel, into a dust pan or onto a piece of cardboard. Place paint-soaked paper towels in a trash bag for future disposal.

Dampen paper towels with cool or warm water. Add a dime-sized drop of hand soap or dish detergent to one towel. Wipe over the spill to loosen it more from the furniture surface.

Wipe over the furniture with more damp paper towels without adding more soap. Switch to clean damp paper towels whenever one gets saturated with paint.

Dampen a sponge in warm water. Add a drop of mild soap and wash off the remaining paint from the furniture.

Rinse off the furniture with a clean wet sponge. Dry it with a clean white cloth. White will show color more easily. If the paint is white, use colored towels. If any hint of paint color shows on the towel, rewash the furniture with a damp soapy sponge and then dry it again.

Things You Will Need

  • Absorbent paper towels
  • Trash bag
  • Water
  • Mild liquid soap
  • Two sponges
  • White cloth


  • If the paint is dry or has started to dry, you will need to do things much differently. First, remove as much paint as you can using a dull blade. When doing this, be very careful not to scratch the furniture. Next, use a mild solvent, such as rubbing alcohol, or a stronger solvent, such as mineral spirits, to remove the remainder of the paint. Know, however, that solvents can damage the furniture's finish. To minimize damage, work quickly and remove the solvent as soon as possible. To remove oil-based paint, follow the same initial steps as for removing water-based paint; however, at the end you will need to use mineral spirits or a similar solvent to get the remaining oil-based paint off the furniture. Use the most-absorbent paper towels you can find--even though they are more expensive, using these will cut time from the clean-up process.


  • Some cleaners can make the finish on wood furniture look hazy. Use only a mild cleaner, such as hand soap or dish detergent, and use it sparingly.