Baby Da Vinci swiped his tempera-loaded brush over the sofa; dad forgot to pull the dropcloth over the couch when he tackled the crown molding. Now you've got lovely new patterns on the upholstery and no furniture-replacement budget. But you can remove paint from upholstery, even if it dries before you discover it. Latex, or water-based, and oil-based paints respond to different methods for loosening, lifting and eradicating random artistic additions to your couch.
Use a smooth-edged tool to scrape wet paint. If the paint has dried, use a stiff-bristled brush to loosen it, being careful not to abrade the fabric. Then, brush the excess paint away. This method works for paints labeled latex or acrylic -- both are just names for water-based paint.
Blot wet paint with a paper towel or rag to soak up as much as you can. Take care not to spread the paint as you press the upholstery to blot it. If the paint has dried, lightly spray a solution of warm water-and-liquid detergent -- a tablespoon or so of detergent to 2 cups water -- on the stain to soften it and continue to spray and blot until all the paint is gone.
Wet a cloth or sponge with plain water and dab at the spot you just cleaned to get all the paint residue and any cleaning or softening solution off the fabric. Keep blotting the rinsed area with white paper towels or rags to remove all the moisture.
Remove as much damp or wet paint as possible with a smooth-edged scraper. If the paint has dried, loosen it with a stiff-bristled brush and remove the dried particles.
Soften dried oil-based paint with the solvent recommended by the manufacturer. Test the product on an inconspicuous area of the couch first, and only apply it to the offending paint. Keep the surrounding area free of solvent as much as possible to avoid spreading the stain.
Blot the wet paint with a white towel or paper towels. Then moisten a clean cloth with a solvent like turpentine or a manufacturer-recommended thinner and begin carefully dabbing at the paint to remove it. If the paint is stubborn, apply more pressure to force the solvent into the coated fibers. Keep blotting and removing, changing the cloth, until the paint is lifted.
Apply waterless hand cleaner to the area with a clean sponge to help remove solvent residue.
Mix a tablespoon of mild detergent with 2 cups of cool or room-temperature water and use a sponge to dab at the cleaned area. Then blot it dry with a clean white cloth.
Use another clean sponge to blot the whole area with plain water to remove all traces of the soap. Blot the couch dry with a clean towel or paper towels and allow the upholstery to dry completely.