Cleaning Painting Tips + Tricks


painted road

…actually, it was oil-based primer. While we were in the process of painting, we had to clean up a few messes. None of which compared to the horror of getting oil-based primer on our hardwood floors. And we’re not talking a few droplets. Not even a big drip or two. Nope. Not us. We’re talking almost a half gallon of the stuff!

It was time to paint the exterior doors and shutters. Since everything was originally painted with oil based paint, we needed to use oil based primer. It was stinky, but it needed to be done. As I was happily painting along (using a rinsed-out Route 44 Cherry Limeade cup from Sonic as my paint cup), I hear a thud and, “Uhhh, man.” Turns out, I left the can of primer sitting open next to where my father-in-law was painting. When he stepped back to check his awesome work, he knocked over the primer. Go me.

Luckily our floors have yet to be sanded and refinished (as we have mentioned before, we are waiting for all of the gritty work to be completed before we have that done), and this spill was on the old, previously finished wood. Paint and primer can get in the little cracks and grooves of hardwood floors, and if the sander doesn’t get down deep enough, it’ll look a little funny. So we were kinda wigged out… at first.

So what did we do? Well, if this had been latex-based paint, it wouldn’t have been a big deal.  Just wipe it up with some wet rags and you’re good to go. But this was oil-based paint. We wiped it up as best we could with paper towels, but all that was really doing was spreading it around.  We didn’t have any paint thinner on hand and dumping flammable liquids all over the wood floor didn’t seem like a great idea anyway.

When it was obvious that what I was doing wasn’t working, I quickly looked up at Ashley and asked, “What takes up oil!?”. Without a hesitation, she yelled, “The little baby ducks and otters!”. I’m totally not exaggerating. I looked at her in disbelief wondering what in the world she was talking about.

She was talking about dish soap — Dawn, Palmolive, whatever type of soap is designed to cut grease. I guess when you think about it, it seems pretty simple: oil-based primer on the floor -> oil means lipids -> grease is made of lipids, too -> dish detergent cuts grease, therefore dish detergent cuts oil-based primer.  We squirted some dish soap over the paint and started to scrub. It began to separate but not enough. I grabbed my water and poured a tad of water over the paint (we’re talking four tablespoons). After liberal application of dish detergent, water, a cleaning brush, and some good old-fashioned elbow grease, the floor was as good as new. We were actually kind of shocked at how well it worked.

I would not have used the brush if our floors had already been stained. In that case, I’d use rags and spend a little bit more time and care so that the finish doesn’t get scratched.  Other than that, if you catch the paint while it’s still wet and you don’t have any traditional paint cleaning substances, the “baby ducks and otters” method works quite well. Our floor is now paint free!

To close this post, I’d thought we would link to a funny, yet true, news story we found online. Somehow 25 gallons of white paint were spilled on the Staten Island Expressway (click here for the full article).

The emergency personnel called in firefighters to hose down the area and wash the paint away. Good thing it was latex…

To visit Dawn’s Everyday Wildlife Champions’ Facebook page, click here. News image courtesy of


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  • Reply
    Sally Simmons
    October 5, 2010 at 11:32 am

    I love that commercial! It gets me every time. Cute post!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 11:58 am

    Such a great post topic! I had no idea you could use dish soap to do that. This will come in handy when we paint our exterior doors next weekend.

  • Reply
    Brenda S
    October 5, 2010 at 1:52 pm

    Hmm, I had no idea that would work. Interesting post…

  • Reply
    Charlie H
    October 5, 2010 at 5:04 pm

    I like it how you took a simple topic and made it an interesting (and funny) post.

  • Reply
    October 5, 2010 at 5:07 pm

    Another thing that works really well is bread. Sounds weird, but it works!

  • Reply
    Cindy Dunn
    October 5, 2010 at 8:57 pm

    Very interesting! Nice topic!

  • Reply
    Mike and Kris
    October 7, 2010 at 4:15 pm

    Enjoying your blog! Different. Interesting. Funny. Creative. Does this thing have a “love” button to click on somewhere? Kudos!

  • Reply
    Tim S.
    February 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    If you didn’t have paint thinner in the house, how did you wash all your brushes?

    • Reply
      February 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

      We have found that using water followed by warm soapy water works really well and actually helps the paint brushes last longer than when using paint thinner. We just rinse as much paint out the brush with warm flowing water. When all of the paint seems to be out, we let the brush soak in some warm soapy water (in an old rubbermaid). After it’s soaks for a while, we just let them sit outside to dry.
      Hope that helps!

  • Reply
    The Gospel
    April 9, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Absolutely pent content material , regards for selective information .

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