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How to Get Paint off your Shoes

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

unplashed photo credit Nathan Dumlao

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Why Is It So Hard to Get Paint Off Sneakers?

When paint spills on a surface that it's not intended to, the dying agents cause it to stain. Wet paint comes off easily. All you have to do is scoop it off. Dry paint is harder to remove because it has already bonded to the surface. Other than wetness or dryness, the type of paint also determines which method you should use to clean the stain.


There is nothing more annoying than getting paint on your shoes, especially if they are your favorite pair. Whether wet or dry, paint stains can make your shoes look ugly. If you have accidentally spilled some paint on your shoes, below is a quick guide on how to clean them.

Dealing with Acrylic Paint

Acrylic wet paint can leave a big mess on your shoes. It's even harder to remove once it dries up. Here are some tips to help you get acrylic paint from shoes. We will categorize these tips depending on the type of shoes.

With acrylic paint, which is water-based, it's much easier to remove, unlike oil-based paint, whose stains are thicker and more difficult to remove. Soap comes in very handy when dealing with stubborn paint stains.

If everything else fails, you can. It is very effective at removing paint stains on sneakers. It is advisable to be cautious when handling paint. This can help you avoid all the troubles associated with cleaning spills on your sneakers and clothes.

Removing Wet Oil-Based Paint


  • Use a dull knife and get rid of excess

  • Dab the area with a wet cloth making it easier to get out the stain.

  • Apply a small amount of turpentine

  • Use a dry cloth to capture the stain

  • Make sure to wear rubber gloves with turpentine or any cleaner to protect your hands.

  • When Cleaning your shoes make sure you are in a well-ventilated area.


Using Nail Polish Remover

  • Use an old toothbrush or butter knife

  • Wet small sponge with water easier to clean when the spot is wet.

  • Dab a cotton ball with nail polish remover to use on stain.

  • Note: Make sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands.

  • Make sure you are in a well-ventilated area when cleaning your shoes.


How To Keep Leather Sneakers Looking New!

If you are dealing with wet paint on leather shoes, then blot it with a clean cloth. Avoid rubbing paint on the leather since that will spread the stain and worsen the situation.

You can always pick up a professional shoe cleaning kit that will help.

Dabbing it with a clean cloth will help you pick as much paint as you can. The remaining paint on leather can be cleaned off using a clean cotton swab.

In case the paint dries up, you can scrape it off gently using a knife. Be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging leather.

Another pro tip that will come in handy is scraping on the paint and not the leather.

This will ensure the blade doesn't sink into the shoe. Avoid scratching hard on the shoe’s skin. Essential oils such as coconut, jojoba, and olive oil can loosen up dried paint. If you are using oil, give it time to soak into the acrylic paint.

Finally, you can wrap up by scraping off any loose paint with a knife. Also, you might want to use a soft bristle brush and some professional cleaning solutions.

Don't forget to clean and condition the shoe afterward. Pick up a shoe cleaning kit to keep on hand.

Conditioning Soft Leather shoes

Conditioning soft leather shoes is an important process, but neglecting to use the right leather conditioner can cause them to deteriorate. The leather will become less durable and may even break after prolonged neglect.

The leather conditioner can also add moisture and shine to the shoes, making them more durable and waterproof.


2. Canvas Shoes

The good thing about canvas shoes is that there are many ways to remove paint stains. These methods include;

· Use a blunt knife to scrape the paint and rinse it with water.

· Alternatively, you can scrape off paint stains using a toothbrush and rinse it afterward. When using a toothbrush, avoid applying so much pressure.

· When dealing with dry paint, soaking the canvas shoes with water can loosen it slightly. Feel free to use warm soapy water. This will loosen the paint faster.

· For those looking for a quick fix, acetone, a common ingredient in nail polish remover, does an excellent job. Do not soak the sneakers in acetone. Instead, dip a cotton ball in acetone and blot it on the stained area.

3. Suede Shoes

Sneakers made using suede require a similar approach to that of leather. If the paint is wet, you can clean it off using a clean cloth. If it's dry, soak it in warm soapy water and scrape off the stain using a knife. A blunt knife does a much better job than a sharp one. Plus, it's not as risky.

  1. Use a blunt tool like a butter knife to avoid damaging the shoe

  2. Washing the remaining paint off your suede shoe with soap suds is essential for avoiding other clean-up problems that could cause permanent damage.

  3. Use lukewarm water mixed with mild soap to create a gentle detergent, swirling the mixture around in order to form suds.

  4. Gently rubbing the paint spot

  5. Wipe the soap suds from your shoes with a dry cloth.


Air Dry Your Shoes After Cleaning

If you’ve conditioned your leather shoes, make sure to dry them at normal room temperature. However, the heat of the sunlight or artificial bulbs should be avoided to preserve their color and sheen.

Some say you should air dry shoes after cleaning them. You don't want to have direct sun or heat on them for drying since it'll ruin the leather faster.


No matter how it happened, getting paint stains on shoes is annoying. But, you don't have to throw away a pair of sneakers or leather shoes just because of a wet or dry paint stain. The above tips can help you make your shoes look as good as new.

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