How To Remove Paint From Shoes (6 Easy Ways To DIY)

Removing paint from your shoes can be a frustrating experience, but it is possible. If you've spilled paint on your shoes, we have the six most trusted removal methods listed below. Continue reading to learn more about how you can remove as much paint as possible from your shoes.

What Gets Paint Off Shoes? (6 Trusted Removal Methods)

Paint on Rubber Shoes

1. Use Nail Polish Remover and Acetone

Using nail polish remover is one way to remove acrylic paint stains and other dry paint stains from shoes. The reason nail polish remover works so well on paint stains is that the nail polish remover is designed to break down varnish [1].

Whether you have leather shoes or canvas shoes, nail polish remover can easily remove a fresh paint stain or a dry paint stain. We recommend using a dry cloth to wipe down the shoe after cleaning.

2. Use Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is a common ingredient many homeowners already have. It works to remove paint from shoes as well. We recommend using a cotton ball and lightly dipping it in rubbing alcohol rather than applying the rubbing alcohol directly to your shoes.

If you don't have rubbing alcohol, you can substitute hand sanitizer. Just make sure to rub gently, because rubbing too aggressively can rip up or tear apart your shoes.

3. Use White Distilled Vinegar

White distilled vinegar is a natural product and one of the gentler options on our list. You will want to use a cotton ball to dab the white distilled vinegar onto your shoes and slowly rub the paint off the shoe.

You can also use 3M strips to help remove the vinegar and the paint. To do this, once the top of the shoe is saturated with white distilled vinegar, you can place the 3M strips on top and then pull them off gently. These strips will help soak up both the vinegar and the paint.

4. Use Soap and Water

One of the easiest methods to try at home is the soap and warm water method. We recommend using this method on your shoe first, even if you plan to use another product. Wetting dry paint, in particular, can help lift the paint off the shoe.

Make sure that you leave the soapy water on the shoe for a few minutes before scrubbing the paint off. You can use a dry towel to scrub or a soft bristle brush.

5. Using Dish Detergent

Another possibility for removing paint from shoes is to use dish detergent. We recommend using a powdered dish detergent and mixing that powder with warm water to generate a light paste. You can then use this light detergent mixture paste to gently brush or rub off the paint from your shoes.

For this method, you may find the paint removal more effective if you allow the shoes to sit with the paste for a half hour before you begin to scrub away. If you are out of dish detergent, you can use laundry detergent instead.

6. Using Mineral Spirits

With mineral spirits, you will want to pour a small handful onto a dry towel and then rub against the paint on the shoe. Once you feel like most of the paint has come off, you can use a damp towel to gently rub the excess paint off.

Use soapy water as well if there are a few places where the paint won’t come off. The combination of mineral spirits followed by soapy warm water will remove all paint.

How To Remove Paint From Fabric Or Canvas Shoes (By Paint Type)

Wet Acrylic, Water & Oil-Based Paint

If you are dealing with wet paint, whether wet acrylic, oil, or water-based paint, we recommend first trying to blot the area (applying pressure gently helps). Blotting the wet paint can help to absorb the greatest amount of paint from the canvas sneakers.

Then, you will want to choose one of the six methods listed above to remove the rest of the paint. For canvas Nike shoes, we recommend using soapy water first before trying another method. Let your shoes dry completely before you use them.

Dry Acrylic, Water & Oil-Based Paint

When it comes to dry acrylic, water, or oil-based paints on your canvas sneakers, we recommend starting by wetting the affected area and then using a mixture of soapy water. From here, if the stains are not lifting, you can try the nail polish remover, white distilled vinegar, or rubbing alcohol methods.

Use a clean cloth to dry the shoes when finished. Then allow the canvas sneakers to dry completely. If clean paint is left behind, you can repeat the process.

How To Remove Paint From Leather Boots

Paint on Leather Shoes

Wet Acrylic, Water & Oil-Based Paint

When it comes to getting wet paint off of a leather shoe, you want to choose a method that is least likely to lead to staining [2]. Leather boots in particular can end up with a stained area after cleaning.

Once you are finished cleaning the paint off leather, you can let your boots air dry. A few drops of baby oil can also be applied to your leather boots to polish them once cleaned.

Dry Acrylic, Water & Oil-Based Paint

Dry paint has a similar process, but we recommend first trying to remove the paint with sudsy water and a clean rag. Gently work to remove dry paint by massaging the shoe with a clean rag. Removing dry paint from leather boots can be a frustrating process.

Unfortunately, dry paint often cakes into leather boots in a way that requires you to slowly chip away at the pieces after the softening process. This can damage your leather though, so we recommend first starting by wetting the leather in the affected area, and slowly massaging the paint off as much as you can.

Then, you can take a sharp object to chip away at whatever pieces of dry paint have remained.

Removing Paint From Suede Sneakers

Paint on Sneakers

Wet Acrylic, Water & Oil-Based Paint

To remove wet paint from suede shoes, start with baking soda to help absorb the paint. It doesn't matter what type of paint type (acrylic paints, water paints, oil paints) has created the stain; baking soda is the best place to start. You want to let this sit for approximately ten minutes before you remove the baking soda with a wet cloth.

From here, you want to move to the soapy water method. If the soapy water method doesn't remove enough paint, you can let your suede shoes air dry and then begin another method, such as mineral salts or rubbing alcohol (both work well for suede sneakers).

Dry Acrylic, Water & Oil-Based Paint

Dry paint on suede shoes follows a similar pattern to dry paint on other types of shoe surfaces. You want to take a damp cloth and slowly wet the paint so that you can begin to scrub it off of the shoe. Softened paint is easier to push and rub off of the shoe.

To remove dry paint that is caked on and is not softening from the wet cloth may need to be removed with a sharp object. You can use a sharp object to chip away at acrylic paints that have hardened on the shoe. Paint thinner and elbow grease can also be used to remove stubborn stains (use rubber gloves).

Important Tips When Scrubbing Paint Off Shoes

When scrubbing paint off of shoes, it's important to remember to be gentle—applying too much pressure when scrubbing can tear apart fabric fibers or create marks in leather shoes. As much as you want your shoe material to be clean, you also want your shoes to remain fashionable, right?

Create a space (away from all art project spaces) to clean the paint stain. Choose a flat surface where you can easily move the sneakers or boots around with ease. You may want rubber gloves to keep your hands clean, and you can use petroleum jelly to protect your hands from chemicals as well.

If you have dried paint that is too hard to scrub off and needs a sharp object to peel off, move slowly and deliberately. If you go too fast, you might poke your shoe and end up with unsightly scratches or tears. It is best to move slowly no matter what method of paint removal you choose to use.

A damp cloth can help soften paint as well. After you have cleaned your shoes completely, let the shoes air dry. If any stubborn paint stains remain, you can remove the extra paint with a dull knife and warm tap water. Choose a well-ventilated area for your stain removal, and make sure you have an absorbent cloth on hand.

Another tip we recommend is using a cotton swab to remove paint from more delicate or hard-to-reach areas. A cotton swab can be useful for getting rid of paint on the edges of tennis shoes and can make it possible to apply pressure in smaller amounts.

To remove stains on specific grooves in Nike shoes without harming the fabric, a cotton swab can do the trick. This method works with just water, but you can add any of the above methods if you need more power.

Paint Removal From Shoes FAQs

Can you remove spray paint from shoes?

Yes, you can remove spray paint from shoes. Spray paint is an aerosol paint, which means that it is ejected from a can, but the actual type of paint is the same. For example, spray paint comes in oil and acrylic paint versions.

To remove spray paint from shoes, you can follow the same methods shared above, including using white distilled vinegar, soap and water, or nail polish remover.

Can you get fabric paint off from canvas shoes?

Yes, you can get fabric paint off of canvas shoes completely. This will be harder than other kinds of paint because fabric paint is designed to cling to and adhere to fabrics such as canvas. You may not be able to get all of the fabric paint off of your shoe.

We recommend using the same methods as above. However, you will need to scrub much harder and soak for much longer. Do not use hot water, as this could "set" the fabric paint further. Use cold water and a wet sponge.

You may also need to use baking soda to help absorb the paint and remove it from the shoe. We recommend using baking soda first and then proceeding with either alcohol, nail polish remover, or mineral spirit methods of removal. Finally, use a dry cloth to buff your shoes clean.

How can you remove glitter craft paint from canvas shoes?

Glitter is best removed with a stronger method such as nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol. You may also need to sand down the canvas shoe with a bit of sandpaper. This can help pick up any glittery specks left behind.

What is the safest homemade paint remover?

The safest homemade paint remover is soap and water. This method is safe for all people, animals, and shoe materials. However, it is not always the most effective method.

If you find that removing the paint with soap and water is not working for you, we recommend using another method, such as nail polish remover, rubbing alcohol, or white distilled vinegar.

How do you remove paint from the shoe’s sole?

You can remove wet or remove dry paint from the shoe’s sole by using soap and water. Using a wet clean cloth with soap suds, you can gently remove excess paint.

You can also use nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol along with a sharp object such as a knife or hook to chip away at any dried paint that is not loosening from the soapy water. From here, you can rub and brush the paint off of the sole.


Removing wet paint or dry paint from shoes is not as difficult as it might seem. Using the correct cleaning product for your shoe type will return your shoes back to pristine condition.

Gently rub your shoes with a dry cloth once your shoes are completely dry, and they might even look better than they did before. Give them a little shine with a clean cloth and a small bit of baby oil or olive oil to finish the look.