How To Remove Shoe Paint Effectively?

how to remove shoe paint

Paint stains on shoes are annoying. They leave an ugly surface and seem to be irremovable.

How to remove shoe paint efficiently at home instead of hiring professional shoe care? Luckily, you can always get rid of paint stains on your shoes by using simple products in your house.

Let’s follow our step-by-step guidelines on removing paint from shoes. These methods can be applied to various types of paint stains, from wet water-based to stubborn dry oil-based paint.

How To Remove Paint From Canvas Sneakers, Boots, Or Normal Shoes?

The fact is that you can always remove paint from your shoes without using an expensive shoe paint remover. You can utilize simple DIY liquids and household products around your house to get paint off your shoes.

The following methods can be applied to various shoe types, including canvas sneakers, boots, and normal shoes.

Get water-based paint off your shoes

Water-based paints can be cleared easily with watery liquids, like soap, water, baking soda, etc.

Method 1: Soapy solution

A lukewarm or hot soapy solution is a cheap way to remove water-based paints from shoes, especially when they are not already dry. All you need is water and milk washing powder.

Remember that this method can’t be applied to oil-based paints because they are water-resistant. Treating oil-based paints with water only makes them bond more.

  1. Use an object with a sharp edge (like a spoon) to scrap off dry paint from the shoes.
  2. Dap a wet cloth or towel on the affected area. Then allow the water to soak in the shoes for a while.
  3. Turn on your washing machine to “wash”, then pour a small amount of mild washing powder into cold water. Put your shoes into the washing machine and let them get spun. The stain would be washed out of the shoes in this process.
  4. After the washing process has finished, remove the shoes, rinse them, then let them air-dry.

remove paint from shoes

Method 2: Moisturizing (for dry paint)

If the paints are left dry for days, you should moisturize them first to get them softened. This method is also used as a secondary procedure if the soapy solution method doesn’t get the paint stains off.

  1. Scape paint off the shoes with no added water. You can use a slightly sharp object, like the handle of a spoon, or a blunt knife.
  2. Pour moisturizer on cotton wool, then spread it on the paint. Cover the area to let the moisturizer completely soak into the stain’s crevices.
  3. Apply water on a clean cloth or towel, then wipe off the area after the moisturizer has been applied.
  4. If the paint hasn’t been cleared, repeat the above steps until your shoe is paint-free.
  5. Clean the shoe and let them dry in a cool place.

Get oil-based paint off your shoes

Oil-based paints are hard to be removed than water-based paint, and you can’t only treat them with only water. These paint stains require some heavy treatments, especially alcohol.

Method 1: Oil

You can use popular types of oil in your kitchen to remove stubborn oil-based paint from your shoes, especially leather shoes or canvas sneakers. Olive oil or coconut oil are some great options.

Here is how you can apply the oil treatment method to your shoes.

  1. Peel off the dry paint from the shoes with care. You should avoid scratches on the shoes.
  2. Apply oil directly on the affected surface, then let it soak in.
  3. Wipe off the excess oil, then add a new layer of oil to the surface. Repeat this process several times.
  4. Soak a wet sponge in a warm mild soapy solution to wipe off the surface.
  5. Leave your shoe dry.

Method 2: Nail polish remover

Since nail polish remover contains a low concentration of acetone, you can use it to get rid of oil-based paints on your shoes.

  1. Use a toothbrush or a blunt knife to scrape the dry paint layer out of your shoes.
  2. Cover the surrounding areas with masking tape. This protective layer will prevent the stain bleach during treatment.
  3. Soak the stained part with a wet sponge in water.
  4. Soak a cotton wool ball in nail polish remover, then gently dab it onto the stained area.
  5. Squeeze the stained part to take the paint from the inside of the shoe.
  6. Remove the masking tape to finish.
  7. Wash the shoe, then let it dry.

If there is no nail polish remover in your house, you can use toothpaste. But it is less effective than nail polish remover or acetone. Toothpaste is often used to clean dust or remove scuff marks on your shoes.

To remove paint stains with toothpaste:

  1. Apply some toothpaste to the affected area.
  2. Use a wet rag or cloth to scrub the paint.

Method 3: Alcohol

Another familiar cleaning product for shoes and household products is alcohol. To clean paint with alcohol:

  1. Dip a cotton ball or swab in rubbing alcohol
  2. Dab the ball/swab onto the painted area to loosen and lighten it. If the paint stain is too dry or hard to remove, you can use a mixture of mineral spirits and water as support after every application.

Method 4: Baking soda

Baking soda is a handy product to get spray paint out of your shoes. Unlike acetone or nail polish remover, baking soda is harmless and doesn’t cause damage to your shoes.

You can apply baking soda even to fragile types of shoes, like leather or suede shoes.

To remove oil-based paint off your shoes with baking soda:

  • Clean excess paint on your shoes. If the paint is already dry, you can use a knife to gently scrape paint.
  • Mix a cleaning paste of baking soda with coconut oil, then use it as a paint thinner to soften the paint. Then, wash the shoes in lukewarm water, and let them air-dry in a well-ventilated area.

Cleaning painted shoes

You have your Air Force shoes painted with angelus paint, and now you want to remove their paint stains to let them to their original color. Or, you might want to replace the current paint color on your canvas shoes with a new one.

Here is how to do it:

  1. Apply lukewarm foamy water on the painted area with a toothbrush.
  2. Soak a cloth or rag in rubbing alcohol. Then wipe it onto the rubber part.
  3. Let your shoes air-dry.

How To Remove Shoe Paint From Leather Shoes?

With acetone

using acetone to remove paint on leather shoes

Acetone (the main ingredient in nail polish removers) is a popular and effective solvent. You can use acetone to treat dry paint stains or remove acrylic paints, oil-based paints, and enamels from your shoes.

Please be careful when using acetone. First, this solvent will dry the leather surface, so you need to polish your shoe after paint removal. Second, it can irritate your eyes and its fumes are dangerous.

Don’t use acetone on plastic or foam parts (like the midsoles), since this acidic liquid can damage those parts. You should use acetone in lower concentrations (like a nail polish remover) and wipe paint stains with more effort and time.

To use acetone on your leather shoes:

  1. Dap a cotton swab or cloth of acetone (or nail polish remover) onto the paint.
  2. Keep dabbing until the paint starts to blend on the cotton swab or cloth.
  3. Continue this process until all paints are cleared out. Gently wipe the paint and don’t rub.

Without acetone

When the paint is wet and new, you can use a leather cleaning kit to remove the paint without damaging your shoe.

Use the soft brush in the kit to apply the cleaning solution. Soften the paint with warm water if the paint has been dry (check the Moisturizing method).

If you don’t have this cleaning kit, you can also apply the following homemade alternatives.

Cooking oil/baby oil

You can use cooking oil or baby oil to wipe the paint off your leather shoes.

  1. Dip a cotton swab or a clean cloth into the oil.
  2. Dap the oil on the paint, then wait for a few minutes to let the oil soften the paint.
  3. Use your nail or a dull knife to peel off the paint with care. Repeat this step to remove all the paint.
  4. If there is a dark discoloration on the leather, wash it with soapy water, then polish the shoe.

Petroleum jelly/Vaseline

Here is how to remove shoe paint with Vaseline or petroleum jelly:

  1. Dab Vaseline or petroleum jelly directly on the paint. Then wait for a few minutes.
  2. Use your nail or a blunt knife to wipe the paint away from your shoe.
  3. Wash the shoe with soap and water, then polish it again to clear leftover vaseline/petroleum jelly.


Alcohol is one of the most effective methods to remove dry stains. You can use turpentine as an alternative to alcohol.

  1. Mix rubbing alcohol with warm water with a ratio of 7:10 in a bowl.
  2. Gently scrape off the remove as much paint as possible on the shoe.
  3. Soak a sponge or a piece of cloth in the mixture, then dab it onto the shoe.
  4. Repeat the above step several times until the paint stain fades out.
  5. Wash and rinse your shoe.

Soapy condition

A warm soapy solution is a good option for leather shoes. To remove paint on leather shoes, dab a cotton swab or cloth off the soapy solution onto the affected area. Besides, you will need hydrogen peroxide and a leather conditioner.


using WD40 to remove shoe paint

WD40 is a popular cleaning product to remove paint from shoes and various surfaces. You can use WD40 to remove spray paint on leather shoes or shoes with a gloss finish.

Yet, WD40 is not applicable for suede shoes.

Check more: How To Get Creases Out Of Shoes?

How To Remove Shoe Paint From Suede Shoes?

Cleaning paint off suede shoes is much more difficult than normal shoes. This material is more fragile and less durable than leather and can get discoloration or damaged easily.

As with other materials, you can erase paint easier when it is still wet. But don’t rub the affected area, since it only spread the paint more.

You can use a high-quality leather shoe removal and a premium brush for suede. Some paint removal choices for suede shoes are Goo Gone and Klean Strip.

Follow these steps to remove paint on suede shoes:

  1. Act immediately when the paint is fresh and wet. If the paint is dry or hardened, scrape it with a plastic knife or a metal wire sponge to remove as much paint as possible. Do it gently.
  2. Apply the leather cleaning removal in the affected area in a circular motion, then wait to let it soak in the paint.
  3. Cover the surrounding area, or place a piece of foam or cloth on the paint stain to avoid the paint spreading to other areas.
  4. Use another piece of foam with soapy water to rub this area. Repeat it until the paint stain is completely removed.
  5. Dry your shoes with a vacuum cleaner, or let them air-dry in a well-ventilated area. After this procedure, you should use leather polish as a treatment.

How Difficult Is It To Take Off Shoe Paint?

The difficulty of paint removal on shoes depends on 3 criteria, including the shoe materials, paint type, and the paint stain condition.

Materials: Leather & suede are more difficult

Removing paint from canvas or fabric shoes is simpler than leather or suede shoes. These materials are durable and hard to get damaged by rubbing.

On the other hand, aggressive rubbing on sensitive materials like leather or suede can lead to lasting damage. Thus, you should dab the cloth/swab with gentle but thorough dapping or swiping motions.

Paint type: Oil-based paint is more difficult

Water-based paints, like acrylic paint or latex paint, are easy to be removed at home. Oil-based paints require more effort and you will need to use some chemicals (even toxic ones) to get the stain out of your shoes.

Paint condition: Dry paint is more difficult

When removing shoe paint, remember to check the paint condition.

Removing wet/fresh paint from the shoes is always easier than dry or hardened paint (like dried acrylic paint).

  • Wet paint: wipe wet paint with a small spoon. Then, use a dry and clean cloth/tissue to wipe wet paint off the shoes.
  • Dry paint: You can re-apply moisture on the shoes to make the paint removal less challenging. Or, you can use a knife or a spoon’s handle to scrape the dry stain little by little.

After this, you can clean the remaining paint particles with a toothbrush or chemical fluid. You can also use a paint thinner to lighten the paint on heavy paint stains.

Some Safety Tips When Removing Paint From Shoes

  • Always do this work in an open, well-ventilated area. Some chemical solvents like turpentine and acetone are toxic. Using these chemicals in a closed area can lead to poison, with some symptoms like dizziness or asphyxia.
  • Keep these solvents far from flammable objects.
  • Always wear rubber gloves to protect your skin. Some agents in these liquids can irritate your skin. You should also wear face masks when using acetone.
  • Never rub the paint into the shoes.
  • Cover the surrounding area with masking tape. This protective layer will avoid the outspread of paint stains.


1. How to remove shoe paint from shoe soles?

To remove shoe paint from the shoe soles, you need Q-tips to access hard-to-reach areas. You will also need some sharp objects and cotton balls to rub the paint stains to rub the surface.

For small dots of paint, you can use vinegar to erase those stains. Dab the vinegar cotton ball onto the spots, then use warm water and a cloth to wipe the paint dots off the surface.

2. When is it too late to get paint stains off shoes?

You can always remove paint from your shoes at any time. Depending on the type of shoe, you can choose a suitable method to wipe the paint off without damaging it.

3. Can you use ice to remove shoe paint?

Although you can use ice or dry ice to remove paint stains on shoes, it is not the most effective option you can use at home.

Using ice can damage your shoe’s fabric. Your shoes are not designed to withstand the high pressure of dry ice blasting.

Wrapping Up

Once you discover methods to get paint off your shoes, you don’t have to use fancy shoe paint removal products or hire a professional to get it done. A rule of thumb for paint cleaning is that the sooner you act, the easier the work will be.

We hope that with these methods, you can keep your shoes in good condition for a long time.

If you have any other effective way, please share it with us!

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