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Dealing with paint spills in vehicles

From the Resene paint and decorating problems solver

Prevention is the best option. Always secure paint in your vehicle.  If it tips over the lid can come off and the paint can spill.

Where possible place the paint inside a box (with rags placed around the paint to secure it within the box) or bag and securely place it so that it cannot fall over enroute or cannot move should the vehicle be involved in an accident.  We recommend placing paint in a boot so that it is out of the main passenger area.  Never place paint on a seat – it is more liable to move around and if it does spill it’s likely to be harder to clean up. Remove all valuable items like coats etc from your boot before transporting paint.

If you are travelling a long distance or over known bumpy roads (e.g. unsealed roads), ask your Resene ColorShop staff to tape the lid of the container for extra protection. The container will still need to be securely placed in your vehicle to avoid a spill.

If you do have a paint spill in your vehicle...

Clean up the paint while it is still wet.  This is your best chance of getting out all of the paint.  If you wait until it is dry, it is very unlikely you will be able to remove all the paint.

Option 1:  Take the car to a car groomer.

Option 2:  Do it yourself.  Scoop up as much paint as you can using a spoon or a piece of cardboard.  Make sure you scoop towards the centre of the paint spill to avoid making the spill bigger.  Once you have scooped up as much excess paint as possible, then it’s time to start cleaning.

Refer to the side of the paint container for the recommended ‘clean up’.  For most waterborne paints it will be water.  For most solventborne paints it will be turps.  You will need many very absorbent cloths (towelling works well) for this part of the job.  Dab on the cleaning material and work it through the paint to remove it. Rinse and repeat using a clean area of the cloth or a clean cloth. Always work towards the centre of the stain so you are not spreading it further.  Repeat this step many times until the stain is removed. Staying with it as long as possible is the key to removing the paint.

If you find there is a little bit of paint that has dried you may be able to use a razor to shave off the top of the carpet to remove it.

Note:  If you are cleaning up with turps, ensure the vehicle is well ventilated and ensure all cloths used are allowed to dry out thoroughly before disposal to avoid spontaneous combustion.


Resene Paint and Decorating Problems Solver
Learn more about typical painting problems and situations you may find when decorating. Also, understanding paint hazards and essential precautions - putting your safety first!

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