How to Remove Different Types of Paint From Shoes

Accidents happen, and sometimes they ruin your shoes. Whether you’re renovating the house, doing a craft project, or making some art, you may end up with paint on your beloved shoes.

Do you know how to remove different types of paint from shoes? In this article, we share our tips and tricks for removing various types of paint from different shoe fabrics.

Each fabric is different, and trying to remove paint the wrong way can cause additional damage to your shoes.

If you work in an environment where there’s a risk of you getting paint on your shoes, or you simply want to learn how to do it safely in case, here’s our guide for cleaning your shoes properly.

The Importance of Removing Paint Fast

The first important step of paint removal: the sooner you remove the paint from your shoe, the easier it will be to get off.

Once the paint has dried, it can be difficult to remove without causing damage to the shoe, as the paint may bond with the materials.

How to Remove Water-Based Paint From Fabric or Canvas Shoes

If the paint is dry by the time you get to clean it, use a brush with stiff bristles to brush away as much of the dry paint as you can. Take care not to damage the shoe. If the paint was still wet, you can start from this point.

Use a tissue or cloth to wipe off any wet paint that may still be on the shoe but be careful not to smudge it more across the shoe.

Prepare a cleaning solution consisting of an equal amount of dishwashing soap and water. You want it to be quite strong.

Find a clean cloth and soak it in this soap and water mix. Wring out any excess water so you have a damp cloth, and then dab at the paint stain.

Keep doing this until most of the paint is gone. You will most likely need to use a new section of the cloth every few dabs.

If paint remains, you can use a cotton wool ball dipped in a small amount of nail polish remover to dab at the stain. This should help it to break down more easily.

If there’s paint on the sole of the shoe, scrub it off with an old toothbrush. Once you’re satisfied that all the paint has been removed, rinse your shoes under warm water and allow them to air dry.

How to Remove Oil-Based Paint From Fabric or Canvas Shoes

If you were using oil-based paint, carefully wipe away any excess paint on the shoe. Then, use a cotton wool ball and dip it into some rubbing alcohol. Make sure to squeeze it out so it doesn’t drip.

Dab at the paint stain on the shoe until the paint begins to come off. You may need to use more than one cotton ball.

If the stain is taking a long time to come out, you may need to alternate between using water and mineral spirits on the stain. You can use a toothbrush gently for a slightly less gentle scrub.

In between cleaning with water and mineral spirits, keep dabbing at it with the rubbing alcohol cotton wool ball.

Once the paint has been removed, dab the site of the stain with warm, soapy water before rinsing the shoes under warm water.

You can also put your shoes in the washer if you want to, on a cold water delicate cycle. Let the shoes air dry when they’re done.

How to Remove Acrylic Paint From Canvas Shoes

Acrylic paint is one of the more difficult types of paint to remove from your shoes. If you leave it for too long, chemicals in the paint can do damage to the material and change the texture of your shoes.

For Wet Paint

If you can clean the shoes while the paint is still wet, the first thing you want to do is to scrape the excess paint off of the shoe with a butter knife or something similar.

Rinse the shoes. While you’re rinsing them, make sure you get water on every part of the shoe so that any hint of paint can come off.

When you’re finished rinsing them, you can blot the shoe with a piece of paper towel to absorb any more paint.

You may need to repeat this process a few times before all the paint has been removed.

For Dry Paint

If the acrylic paint has already dried on your shoes, you will need to scrape the dried paint off before you get the shoe wet.

You can use a butter knife for scraping and a toothbrush for scrubbing. Place a small amount of pressure on the canvas or fabric to help get it off more easily.

Once the dried paint has been scraped off, you can use a paper towel to blot the paint that was absorbed by the shoe. You may need to add some water to a cloth instead of using a paper towel if the paint isn’t wet enough.

Keep blotting at the paint until it all gets absorbed into the towel and the shoe is clean.

How to Remove Paint From Leather Shoes

The most important thing to remember about removing paint from leather shoes is that you should be extra careful to avoid rubbing the paint into the leather. It will be much more difficult to remove once it’s in the leather.

Cooking Oil/Petroleum Jelly/Vaseline

Whichever one of these you decide to use, the easiest way is to either use a cotton wool ball or an earbud. Dip it into the oil or jelly and dab it over the paint on the shoe.

Let it sit like that for a few minutes. After 4 or 5 minutes, begin to gently peel the paint away from the leather, using your fingernail or a butter knife.

You may need to repeat the oil or jelly process a few times before all the paint comes off the leather.

Once all the paint is off, wash the site gently with mild soap and water. Polish the shoe, and you should see no sign of the paint.

Nail Polish Remover

Nail polish remover contains acetone, which helps to break down the paint. However, pure acetone can be damaging. Nail polish is a concentrated version, which makes it safer to use on shoes.

Dab it gently onto the paint stain using a cotton ball or a clean cloth. Continue dabbing it until the paint comes off of the leather and stays on the cotton ball.

You may need to use a few cotton balls in order to get all the paint off. Let the shoe air dry, and then polish it afterwards.

Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol also helps to break down paint. You apply it the same way—with a cotton swab, a clean cloth, or shoe mitt. Make sure to dab it onto the paint rather than rub it.

After a minute, carefully wipe the paint off of the shoe. Apply a leather conditioner once the paint is gone to protect the material.

Mineral Spirits

Mineral spirits are similar to paint thinner but healthier. They are odorless and refined, and can be very effective for cleaning paint off of leather shoes.

Use an old toothbrush to try to gently scrape as much dry paint off of the leather as you can. Brush in circular motions and slowly.

Then, apply a bit of mineral spirit liquid to the spot using a clean cloth. Rub the spot with the cloth, slowly and carefully, for 1 to 2 minutes.

The paint stain should be disappearing. You may need to repeat the process a few times before the pain disappears.

How to Get Paint Off Suede Shoes

Suede is a type of leather, but it’s more fragile and soft than proper leather. Don’t rub the paint stain hard, as it may cause it to spread and damage the shoe.

You can use a leather shoe cleaner and a clean cloth to gently dab at the paint spot. Take it slowly and be patient, as rushing through this process may damage the shoes.

You should get a suede brush and polish with the shoes, so we advise using these once the paint stain is off.

How to Remove Paint From Sneakers

You can apply rubbing alcohol to the paint stains and spots on sneakers to help remove the paint.

Make sure you never use cleaning products containing bleach, as they will damage the fabric and other materials of your sneakers.

Wash your sneakers with warm soapy water when you’re done and let them air dry before wearing them again.

How to Get Paint Off Boots (not leather)

Soak a cotton ball in some nail polish remover and then squeeze it out so it’s not dripping. Dab this over the paint spot on your boot.

Wait a few seconds for the liquid to start breaking down the paint. After a few seconds, you can start to rub it a little harder with the cotton ball. The paint should begin to come off as you rub.

Once the paint has been removed, you should allow the boots to air dry before you use them again.

How to Remove Paint From the Outsoles

Nail Polish Remover and Acetone Mixture

Instead of using 100% acetone, which can possibly damage your outsoles, you can make a mixture of 80% acetone and 20% nail polish remover. This won’t be as strong and has less chance of damaging your shoe.

Apply this mixture to the shoe using a cotton ball. Dab it gently onto the paint stain and rub it in a circular motion until it’s gone.


Vinegar is a great way to clean your outsoles, especially to remove small stains from spray paint.

Just dab the vinegar onto the spots with a cotton ball. Wait a minute or two and then clean the spots with a damp, clean cloth.

The paint spots should disappear and your outsole will look as good as new.