Some things just aren’t supposed to go together, and paint and shoes are a good example – because when shoes get paint on them, it can be a nightmare to get off.
However, if it happens, you don’t need to write your shoes off just yet since there are several techniques you can use – so to help, here are some of the best ways to remove dry paint from shoes.
What kind of paint are you dealing with?
Before you start trying to remove the paint from your shoes you need to work out what kind of paint you’re dealing with.
The main types are water-based paint, oil-based paint and spray paint, and the best method to remove paint from your shoes depends on which type you are dealing with.
If you use the right techniques to remove the paint, you are more likely to be successful. However, if you use the wrong methods, at best, you won’t see the results you were hoping for – and at worst, you will ruin your shoes.
Once you’ve established which type of paint you’re facing, you can then decide which methods to try.
Water-based paints are probably the easiest to deal with, and if that’s the type of paint you need to remove, here are some of your options.
Method 1: Washing up liquid or washing powder
The easiest way to remove dried water-based paint is to use a basic household cleaning product like washing up liquid or washing powder. Here are the steps to follow:
1. Pick off the worst of the paint
Using something like a spoon or a blunt knife, start by peeling the worst of the paint off the shoe. If a drop of paint has dried in a blob, you’ll be able to pick off most of it, leaving just the paint that has soaked into the surface of the shoe.
2. Dab the surface with a wet cloth
Take a piece of wet cloth and dab the paint with it to try to remove as much as possible. The important thing here is to dab rather than wipe – because if you wipe, you risk spreading the paint over the surface of the shoe and making the problem worse.
Use plenty of water and try to get as much of the paint out as possible. With water-based paints, you should be able to get rid of most of it out without needing to use anything more than water.
3. Mix your cleaning product
Mix up your cleaning product in a bowl of warm water. Then, using a cloth or a sponge, rub the part of the shoe with the paint stain – and you should see the paint gradually disappearing from the surface of your shoe.
4. Rinse and repeat
After working at the stain with the soapy water, rinse the shoe under clean water to see how things are looking. If you can still see the stain, go back to rubbing with soapy water and keep repeating until the stain disappears.
Method 2: Use a Moisturizer
Another technique you can try if soapy water doesn’t work is to try moisturizer. Here are the steps:
1. Pick off the worst and dab as above
Start by picking off the worst of the paint and then dabbing with a wet cloth as in steps #1 and #2 above.
2. Apply moisturizer to the stain and leave it to be absorbed
Using a piece of cotton wool, apply a good amount of moisturizer to the stain and then leave it to rest for about 10-15 minutes.
3. Wipe off with a wet cloth and repeat
Once the moisturizer has been absorbed, take a wet cloth and wipe off the paint. Repeat these steps until the stain is gone.
4. Rinse with water
Once you are happy that the stain has gone, rinse the shoe in water to remove the last traces of paint and moisturizer and leave it to dry.
After it dries, if you can still see a stain, you can go back and repeat the same steps, using either method #1 with soapy water or method #2 with moisturizer. Repeat as many times as necessary until the stain has completely disappeared.
Oil-based paints are more difficult to remove since they aren’t soluble in water. However, there are still a couple of simple tricks you can try. Let’s have a look at these now.
Method 1: Nail polish remover
Nail polish remover can break down oil-based paints, making them easier to wash out, so here’s how to use it to clean your shoes:
1. Pick and dab
The first step is the same as the methods for water-based paints – start by picking off the worst of the paint with a blunt tool and then moisten the area with a wet cloth.
2. Apply the nail polish remover
Apply nail polish remover to the affected area using a piece of cotton wool. Make sure you don’t use too much or it will soak into the rest of the shoe, spreading the stain and making it larger.
3. Squeeze the shoe
Squeeze the affected part of the shoe to force the nail polish remover out of the material and dab it up with a cloth. It’s best if you squeeze from inside the shoe. Keep working at it until all the paint has been forced from the material of the shoe.
4. Rinse in water
Once you have removed the paint, give the shoe a good rinse in water. Let it dry and check the results – and if necessary, repeat until the stain is gone.
Method 2: Turpentine
Another option is to use turpentine. Here’s how to do it:
1. Pick and dab
As with all the other methods, start by picking off and dabbing up the worst of the paint stain.
2. Apply turpentine inside and out
Using two pieces of cloth, rub turpentine into the stain both inside the shoe and out. As you keep rubbing, the paint will gradually come out of the shoe and be absorbed by the cloth – so just keep working the shoe until the paint is gone.
3. Rinse and dry
Once the turpentine has done its job, give the shoe a good rinse and let it dry. Check the results and repeat as necessary.
Removing spray paint from shoes
If you get spray paint on your shoes, the best thing you can do is remove as much as you can while it’s still wet, so if you accidentally spray your feet, wipe the shoes clean with a damp cloth right away.
After this, gently rub a little paint thinner into the affected area and then use turpentine and a cloth to clean the area further. With spray paint, the key is catching it early – and if you do, you shouldn’t be left with too much of a noticeable stain.
The “nuclear” option
If your stain is particularly stubborn you may want to “go nuclear” and combine several of these techniques as a last resort. However, this option is quite extreme and may damage your shoes, so think carefully before you start. Here’s how to proceed:
1. Pick and dab
As ever, start by getting rid of the worst of it by picking off the paint and dabbing at the stain with a wet cloth.
2. Use paint thinner or nail polish remover
Apply paint thinner or nail polish remover to the stain and then wipe, dab or scrape off as much paint as you can. Keep going until you have got off as much as possible and then rinse the shoe.
Next, apply turpentine inside and out. Work the shoe with a pair of cloths as explained above, squeezing the material to get as much paint out as possible. Rinse clean again.
Use a household detergent mixed with warm water. Allow it to soak into the shoe and wipe to remove as much of the stain as possible. Rinse clean.
5. Soak overnight, rinse, dry
Once you’ve rinsed the shoe, leave it to soak in a bowl of water overnight or for at least six hours. Take it out of the water, give it a final clean rinse and leave it to dry.
When the shoe is dry, inspect the stain. If it is still there, repeat the whole process until you achieve the desired result or until there is no longer any change.
Can you use acetone to clean paint from shoes?
A commonly asked question is whether you can use acetone to clean paint from shoes, and the answer is yes, you can.
Acetone is one of the main ingredients in nail polish remover that helps break down oil-based paint, allowing you to wipe and rinse it out.
This means, if you want to use acetone to clean paint from your shoes, you just need to follow the same method as described above for nail polish remover.
Choose which shoes you wear for painting carefully!
If you need to do any painting, the best advice is always to wear old shoes you don’t mind getting dirty – because there’s no way around the fact that getting paint out of shoes can be tricky.
However, if you do get paint on a pair of good shoes, there’s no need to despair – because by trying some of the techniques we’ve given you in this post, you still stand a chance of saving them!