Have you seen these before?

Oh, good.

Me, too.

They are painter’s drop cloths.

They come in different sizes.  Sometimes they are 9’x 12′ or 4′ x 6′ or 4′ x 12′.  They come in plastic or a rubbery fabric or this canvas material that might pass for linen if you squinted a little.

The best thing about dropcloth?

It has a superpower.

One minute it sits calmly on a table folded like this.

And then you blink.

And it transforms itself into…

Curtains that look like these.

drop cloth ruffled curtains

Or curtains with ruffles like these.

Or roman shades like these.

Or a pom pom pillow like this.

Or a wreath like this.

And while all of these dropcloth ideas are wonderful.

And amazing.

And incredible.

And creative.

Sometimes its to forget the most important reason dropcloths even exist.

They were designed and created and brought here to this planet to help protect your floors.

So when you are painting a living room like this.

With a bookcase like this.

And you get this idea to make the bookcase cuter.

It will only take minutes you tell yourself.

I don’t need to prep.

All I need is a ladder and a can of navy paint.

It will only take a minute.

I don’t need to tape or get anything ready or put a drop cloth down.

If you hear yourself saying this?

If you have a conversation that remotely sounds like this?


Because when you are up on a ladder and painting the top of the bookshelf and trying very hard to stay in the lines because you didn’t take a moment to tape off the top of the molding and at the very moment of concentration you forget that you have a full paint can in your hand and you tip your hand to the side.

And this happens.



Especially when you try to clean it up and it looks like this.


Take it from me.

Drop cloths are your friend.

They make wonderful wreaths and pillows and curtains and shades.

But always remember and never forget.

They are superheroes.

Leaping tall buildings and fighting the bad guys and saving the planet…

…and rescuing floors every single day.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.

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  1. Image for Deb Deb

    Sounds like home! lol I know rubbing alcohol will remove latex pain but not sure about removing such a copious amounts as you have. Good luck and I have faith you will learn from your mistakes. I, on the other hand, still haven't!

    1. Image for RW RW

      BLP Mobile Paint in our area is pretty much a store for the trade. They'll sell to the general public but it's mostly pros who visit. (On a side street, not sure who else knows they're even there nowadays.) They sell a clear plastic bag of white powder -- used to be 98cents US, last I bought any was $2, who knows now. I keep some in our paint supplies if I can. It is specifically for removing latex paint. No ingredients list. Maybe other paint stores have something similar. Mix it up with a liter of water, and apply. I learned about it when someone at a church painting party turned around and painted a family member's down and sort of canvas (duck?) jacket -- one of those fluffy ones that remind you of the Michelin Bibedum guy, rolls of white. This white mix got the dried latex paint off that jacket just great, and we've used it thru the years on fabrics and on paint brushes to help if you let dried on paint go. (Note: I don't use it on bristle brushes because it "blows" them if you know what I mean, but others work great. )

      1. Image for RW RW

        I don't think the BLP powder would be the right thing for the floor, though. Surely some solvent if not water would remove the spill?

  2. Image for RW RW

    Lovely uses for drop cloths; helps to see them all put together in one post. I love how all your neutral rooms with the neutral drop cloths look -- gorgeous, of course. I just don't see where it fits in my own house. Have you ever tried bleaching them white white? BTW... inquiring minds want to know: How did you get the navy off the floor?

    1. Image for Deb Deb

      I have bleached drop cloths in the bathtub and they came out beautifully! It took awhile. I kept checking the color and swished them around to ensure full coverage then washed them. They came out much softer...not so stiff. Good luck.

  3. Image for Eileen Azzinaro Eileen Azzinaro

    Amen to that! That's why I dislike painting; it's not about the painting, It's all the prep work and it's all necessary, the drop cloths and especially the painter's tape, which has saved my life several times because as a painter, I'm not the best, really not the best, Yikes kind of painter. What did I do kind of painter. So, yes, preparation is our friend and that includes drop cloths

  4. Image for Teresa G Teresa G

    Yup, been there; done that. Don't know how I overlooked that drop cloth wreath post, but it's going on my to do list for this Christmas! Thanks for always brightening my day!

  5. Image for Carrie Carrie

    As a person with new refinished hardwood floors, inquiring minds want to know~ how DID you get the paint off the floor??? ( We still need to paint~ we had the floors done first!) And I bought drop cloths~ to use as room dividers (temporarily) in our unfinished basement....I plan on using them to hide all my extra stuff until I can organize!! Thanks for the inspiration!

  6. Image for Lisa Lisa

    This makes me feel a little nauseous. I'm here to testify that one can never have too many drop cloths for floor protection, or as window treatments. Happy Monday

  7. Image for Cynthia Lucarotti Cynthia Lucarotti

    I just LOVE you! Your posts make me smile, laugh, tear up.. depending on the post of the day! AND I am glad I am not the only one that thinks I can just paint this one little thing without a drop cloth!! NEVER WORKS🤣 Thank you for all your hard work in your blog. You are an ABSOLUTE delight!

  8. Image for RW RW

    Speaking of which, don't pour paint into the wrong type of plastic buckets to mix. Maybe oil paint reacts with plastic? When I was a child many decades ago, my mom used a 5 gallon bucket to mix several gallons of paints... She was set up on a round oak table in the kitchen, and the bucket developed an anuerysm along the bottom edge. 5 gallons of paint suddenly poured off all over the table and across that whole wooden floor.... We were recently going thru all our leftover paints from the decades. (Not very good at decluttering that stuff.) All the Acrylic Latex was still good, even 25 years later. We stored it in pourable water gallon bottles. Ditto the oil-based, though the cans were rusty. I mean to replace the cans and strain any bits. But the regular non-acrylic latex paint was all dried up or yucky, or molded up. Thought I'd pass that on.

  9. Image for Winnie Winnie

    I read that baby wipes are a painters best friend and that they take up even dried latex paint. I have tried this and it does work! Hope this helps.

  10. Image for Nan, Odessa, DE Nan, Odessa, DE

    Don't be too hard on yourself! We all make mistakes. Do we know of anyone who sews furniture covers PROFESSIONALLY for sale, using drop cloths????????

  11. Image for Elizabeth Elizabeth

    I am the same way, I always think I can take a short cut and not prep and then I get distracted and end up with a mess. I hope you were able to get the paint cleaned up.

  12. Image for Denise Cox Denise Cox

    Good timing, KariAnne!! I am in the process of refinishing a two piece hutch and after this, a round table with a leaf with four Windsor chairs. All acquired in Craigslist. I haven't done this before, so I'm doing a lot of research and reviewing my pins. You are my inspiration as I have decided to go with a white /neutral palette. I will send you pictures when it is finished. I hope you don't mind if I ask you questions, if needed. And yes, drop cloths were on the top of my list. I decided to go with plastic. I love the curtains with ruffles.. GORGEOUS!!! LOVING this Fall weather.. 🍁🍁🌞🍁

  13. Image for Regina Merrick Regina Merrick

    I feel your pain. I did that to a bedspread that I dearly loved. I thought, surely I can just do this little bit of touch-up without moving the bed over, or covering the bed? SURELY! Nope. Fortunately, it was on the side to the wall, so I used it for a while after the "incident!" LOL! Only my husband knew!

  14. Image for Gran Gran

    Ok, I was about ready to start painting when I decided to sit down and read this. Maybe someone is trying to tell me something. Thanks!

  15. Image for Nancy at Adams and Elm Home Nancy at Adams and Elm Home

    Oh my goodness! Yes this inspired. Yes this made me swoon over all your wonderful projects. Yes this made me chuckle at the uses for drop cloth. And yes this made me “suck air” (as my husband says I do sometimes when he drives) and shed a figurative tear for your floor. Nancy

  16. Image for GreenDoor GreenDoor

    We've all been there. Also, "I'll just paint in my bare feet" does not magically prevent you from stepping in paint blotches on that dropcloth and tracking it all over the house. Also, "I'll be smart and leave the paint can on the floor" is not really that smart once you're up on the top of the ladder and hear "I help you, mama!!" from the two year old down below. Ask me how I know....

  17. Image for Jan Jan

    Owning a stenciling business for decades taught me to clean latex and acrylic paint "accidents" by (counter-intuitively) flooding the area with lots of water, instead of swiping spills, which only dries them faster. Works on walls, floors, fabrics, even carpeting. Easier to sop up a lot of tinted water than paint that is already drying! Voice of experience here! I learned to keep a bucket of clean water handy to keep adding and blotting up more water until the stain is gone. :-D

  18. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    oops. I might resemble this post but shhh, I'm not saying. ;) Love me some drop cloths for all their versatility and for keeping floors paint free.

  19. Image for Laura Harrie Laura Harrie

    Karianne, my painting experience has been not wearing my painting clothes! I must have 6 shirts and that many shorts that are my painting clothes. I think I can outsmart the paint, but noooo! We painters always learn the hard way!

  20. Image for Sophie Sophie

    No-o-o-o-o! Your beautiful floor! Fingers crossed that you were able to clean it. (And I love how you were able to turn this infuriating accident into a lighthearted blog post. I hope writing about it was cathartic!)

  21. Image for Debra Matcovich Debra Matcovich

    I didn't have the drop cloth problem, well just a drop, or two. My problem after I finished painting the boxes on the lower half of the wall in white semi gloss, I noticed dust all over. I changed rollers which helped going up the stairs and the upstairs hall What a nightmare. I had to sand, and paint again. Yes, I bought a microfiber roller, Finally, victory.

  22. Image for Melissa Melissa

    Oh no! I have made this same mistake before :D. Thankfully not as large, but like you I was too excited about the project and just wanting to get started so I didn't prep or tape anything. And then I regretted it.

  23. Image for Susan Susan

    Oh my goodness KariAnne! I gasped when I saw the spill- so loud that my husband asked me "what's the matter?!" I panicked for you. I hope you had someone home to help right things! I love the cuteness you gave the bookshelves.

  24. Image for Debra Debra

    Rubbing alcohol will actually dissolve dried paint on old paintbrushes and I use it regularly in my painting cleanups. I even used it on the side of my car after driving through freshly painted traffic lines on the road. Yep, the whole side of my car was a mess and other people were paying big $$ to have it professionally removed. Who knew? Inexpensive rubbing alcohol, a painter’s best friend. Use a scrubby sponge to attack your floor. It’s a bit of work, but it DOES work! Blessings, Deb

  25. Image for Debra Debra

    And to add to the above rubbing alcohol comment, I also have used it to remove much dried latex paint marks from clothing I was trying to salvage. Lots of rubbing alcohol and a brush to scrub. Works wonders. Have salvaged ‘many’ items.

  26. Image for Nita Christian Nita Christian

    A funny story to tell....my neighbor was painting the room, dropped the gallon can of paint on the carpet and decided to "paint" the carpet!! Yes, it was a disaster! The paint dried but it was stiff so she had to replace the carpet! LOL Love the navy on the bookshelf...makes those milk glass pieces really stand out!

  27. Image for Tammy Tammy

    GASP!!! I literally GASPED!!! Hand to the chest, mouth gaping open GAAAASSSP!! I am so, so sorry for this. And even after the story about the black enamel paint at the workshop!! NOOOOO!!! Oh my Lordy, well, it was worth it, I guess. Because that navy bookcase is stunning! 💙💙💙

  28. Image for Mindy Mindy

    If you don't have the paint up already, use a flat razor to scrape dried paint off the floor. You should be able to get it off without any damage to the floor, as long as the wood is sealed. Just don't wipe wet paint - let it dry as it splattered and it comes off much easier.

  29. Image for Shelia Shelia

    Bless your heart Karianne! Your shelves turned out beautifully at least! Not sure if you’ve gotten the paint up yet but if you haven’t you could try Tub-o-towels from Amazon. Painters use them and they take off every last bit of paint. Not sure if they’ll work on a floor but I bet it would sure be worth the cost of a tub. Also try nail polish remover. I’ve used that before and it worked. At least you have a good sense of humor about it, I’d be so fire breathing mad, lol! Hope you get it cleaned up. Keep us posted! Good luck! Shelia

  30. Image for Hedy Hedy

    I have 2 nightmare stories: filled a trunk of the car with 7 gallons of paint and was rear ended by a drunk driver, opened the trunk and the cans were floating in our paint. Another time I had my son’s bedroom carpeted and walls were dingy so I decided to paint them. Dropped a half can of paint on new carpet, but somehow I got it spotless. We’ve all been there!

  31. Image for Michelle Michelle

    I think about prepping and protecting. I really do. But mostly I do what you did and dive in with enthusiasm and confidence that the worst won't happen. Surely not. But 9 times out of 10 the worst does happen and I think, "If only..." So sorry about the floor! Were you able to get the paint up?

  32. Image for Lisa from Indiana Lisa from Indiana

    Kari Ann, do you have a favorite brand of drop cloth you prefer? I purchased some at Lowes and the seam went across instead of down the drop cloth, I returned them and will be looking for another kind but wondering if you have a fav you can share? Thank you....

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