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How To Remove Paint From Shoes

How To Remove Paint From Shoes

When dealing with paints, it’s obvious to end up with lots of splattered stains on your footwear. Shoes are among the most exposed apparel when working on such artwork projects. However, certainly not among the easiest to clean.

Whether it’s water-based or oil-based stains, eliminating messy drops from your shoes can be another project altogether, especially when they are dried and seem impossible to extract. Not to mention that things can get tougher depending on the material of the shoe.

However, that doesn’t mean that your favorite pair of work shoes are permanently ruined. Based on the type of paint, there are various hacks to exclude stains from your shoes. We have developed a step-by-step guide to help get rid of paint out of your shoes.

You just need to have the right cleaning workings and some bit of patience for the best results. These are the effective methods to help restore your treasured footwear to their previous glory.

Wet Water-Based Acrylic Paint

First off, remove any excess paints. You can use a spoon or a dull knife to remove as much of it as you can. Grab the shoe tightly and carefully scoop up the obvious mess. This will make work easier when sponging and blotting away the taints.

Then use a wet cloth to blot the affected spots. This will dampen the spot, making it easier to clean out the stain. It also helps in making the material more pliable and easy to work on. This process may involve lots of water, so don’t hesitate to reapply where necessary.

Keep the shoes as wet as possible to enhance the process. The dampness will keep the fabric flexible, allowing the detergent to work on the stain. Then cleanse with cold water to remove the detergent suds. Repeat the process until you’re satisfied that the stain is no more.

Also Read: Can Women Wear Men’s Shoes?

Dry Water-Based Acrylic Paint

Start by brushing off the excess paint. Use a toothbrush or a coarse to chip off the excess dried paint. You can also use your fingernails to pick off dried chunks for smaller little stains. Eliminating the dried top layer gives you greater access to the tough stains underneath, thus a quicker way of cleaning the larger part of the stain.

Using a damp cloth, apply a solution of one part water and one part detergent to the stained part of the shoe. Based on the size and toughness of the stain, you might want to use some nail polish remover to a damp material and work it into the stain. Repeat the same until the stain mellows into the texture of the shoe.

After softening the dry paint, you can easily dissolve it away from the fabric. Use a dull knife to get rid of the softened paint. Some traces of paints might still be present, but this should eliminate a large part of the mess.

Rub the remaining part of the stains with a cleaning solution and then rinse with water to remove the soapy residue. Keep on with the cycle until the paint is totally gone.

Wet Oil-Based Paint

Remove excess paint using a spoon or dull knife. Hold the shoe tightly and gently try to clean out the extra paint. Once the leftover paint is out, blot the messy part with a damp cloth.

Dampening the fabric will make it workable and even easier to flush out any removable stain. You might want to use more water to keep the shoes wet throughout the process. So, don’t hesitate to reapply where necessary.

Place an old dish towel or a dry cloth over the stained spot on the exterior of the shoe. Then apply some turpentine to a rag and rub it on the interior of the shoe (behind the stained part).

Hold the shoe with one hand while applying the pressure to the interior side of the stain. The paint underneath will start coming off onto the dry cloth you placed on the exterior of the shoe.


  •       Be sure to wear rubber gloves when dealing with turpentine.
  •       Turpentine should be used in a well-ventilated area.
  •       Replace the dry cloth as it gets wet from the turpentine
  •       Repeat the same until the stain is gone


Using a dry cloth and laundry detergent, rub the stain (on the outside of the shoe) to clean out any leftover paint stuck in the fabric. Then soak the shoes in hot water for at least six hours.

Try rubbing the stain with your thumbs every now and then to help clear dislodged stains while soaking. Rinse your shoe with cold water and leave them to air-dry. This should remove the paint completely.

Dry Oil-Based Paint

Remove the excess paint using a toothbrush or a coarse brush—Flake off the obvious dried paint. You might even be able to pick off dried parts with your fingernail. This will allow you to have better access to the tougher stains underneath.

After removing the excess paint, pour paint thinner over the spot. Hold the shoe over a tub or bowl to trap excess paint thinner. Apply a thin stream of paint thinner directly over the stained part.

It is important that you make sure you’re using the right type of paint thinner, based on the kind of paint on the shoes. Read the instruction of the paint thinner packaging for more details about use.

Using a dull knife, scrap off the part to obliterate the softened paint. There may be a thin layer of stain set into the material of the shoe. However, most of the mess should be gone by now.

Put a dry cloth or a used dish towel over the stain on the exterior of the shoe. You might want to do this on a flat surface. Apply some bit of turpentine to the interior of the shoe behind the stained part. Put the turpentine to a rag or sponge and rub it on the interior of the shoe. Hold the shoe with one hand and put pressure on the inside of the stained area. The paint should come off onto the dry cloth you placed on the outside of the shoe.

  •       Wear rubber gloves when working with turpentine
  •       Change the dry cloth as it gets wet from the turpentine
  •       Repeat the procedure until the stain is gone.

After that, rub the spot with a dry cloth and some laundry detergent. Soak the shoe overnight in a tub of hot water for around six hours. Keep rubbing the mark every now and then to help remove leftover paint in the fabric. Then rinse the shoe with cold water.

Bottom Line

Paint stains can make your shoes look completely unkempt, old, and uninviting. There are high chances that you will spill paint over your shoes as you get along with your craft or DIY painting projects. Different paints are often difficult to clear, which can make you even throw your favorite sneaker into the trash bin. Hopefully, the above hacks will help bring your footwear back to its early greatness.