How to get Paint off Shoes (Work Boots made of Leather, Canvas or Suede)

how to remove paint from shoesIt doesn’t matter whether the paint stain on your shoe is oil or water based. The fact still remains that it will not be an easy task to get rid of.

The task gets only harder with the kind of material that you are dealing with plus if the shoes are expensive, you might actually feel that you are doomed.

Apart from patience and persistence, you need to know the right products and the process (on how to get paint off shoes).

Before getting down to the business of getting paint off your shoe, it is important to know the paint substance that you are dealing with. Consequently, you’ll act accordingly and use the correct products.

There are two main types of paint, which are:

Acrylic Paint
Acrylic paint is fast drying but water-soluble paint. This paint however becomes water resistant when it dries up, a point should you keep in mind. Acrylic paint dries up really fast so when it gets on your shoe you better act as fast as you can.
Oil Paint
Oil based paints contain natural or synthetic oil as their base. This oil is tough and durable and is mainly used to protect surfaces for long duration against weather elements and other destructive factors.

This is the perfect paint for metal. It is very hard to clean once it dries up but it takes quite a while before it does, something like 4 to 8 hours.

Now we know a thing or two about paint types. So let’s delve into specific shoe type and how to clean it up off paint.

Removing Paint from Canvas, Leather & Suede Shoes

How to remove Latex, Water based, Acrylic Paint from Canvas Shoes

You will need the following materials:

  • Clean soft cloth
  • Toothbrush
  • Cotton balls or swabs
  • Detergent or dish soap
  • Nail polish remover
  • Knife
  • Warm water

 With these items at hand, follow the steps below to clean your work boots.

Remove wet paint
It is easier to clean wet paint than it is to clean it when dried up. Wet paint can easily be wiped out. If it is a large spill then make use of a spoon to scoop out all you can then wipe off the remainder with some tissue or cloth.

Remove dry paint
This is where the knife comes in. Try to scrape off as much paint as you can before you use the toothbrush to remove the remaining amount. Avoid exerting excess pressure as this may damage your shoe.

You will then have to rinse the shoe underwater after removing all the paint. Warm running water will do as it will remove the remaining paint. Blot out whatever is remaining with a cloth then rinse again and again till you attain the desired result.

Sole scrubbing
Using the toothbrush scrub all the paint that is on the sole. Put some detergent in warm water, dip a cloth in it and use it to rub over paint spots. Be vigorous enough and continue till you have removed much of the paint.

If there is still some paint left then take the cotton balls, pour some nail polish remover on the specific areas. Use this to blot out the remaining paint. Then afterwards rinse the shoes in warm water.

Once you are done, the next thing is laundering your shoes. Put them in the washing machine and let them run in cold water. When done, put them out to dry.

Removing Acrylic or Latex Paint from Leather Shoes

Dealing with paint on leather shoes is a little bit complicated. But this does not mean that it is an impossible feat. you are not only trying to remove the paint but you are also ensuring that the leather is preserved.

Materials needed

  • Clean cloth
  • Leather wax
  • Cotton swabs/balls
  • Some alcohol

The Procedure

Wiping the paint off
Leather is not like canvas which means that if paint spills on it then it does not seep in too deep.  Take the cloth and wipe off the paint. Work with one small section at a time.

Cleaning with alcohol
Soak the cotton ball in alcohol, squeeze to remove excess liquid then dab it on the spots that contain the paint. Alcohol loosens the paint making it easier to remove. You can opt for this method and do it repetitively till you are satisfied with results.

You will use a clean dry cloth to blot out the paint then wipe the surface till it is dry. It is important to note that leather easily discolors when alcohol is used on it. So what do you do? Get some leather wax and buff the shoes till you get that excellent glossy finish.

What if the paint is dry?
Dry paint is another territory all together. You will need the following materials:

  • Olive oil
  • Cotton swabs
  • Vaseline
  • Nail polish remover
  • Alcohol
  • Bee wax
  • Soap
  • Cloth
  • Alcohol
  • Toothbrush
  • Water

Start by testing the olive oil just to ensure that it will not damage the leather. Leather is dyed differently depending on the type of shoe. Use a small amount on an inconspicuous part of the shoe and check its effects. If all is well then you can proceed.

Add some olive oil to a dry cloth or cotton swab then rub it gently on the affected part. As the paint loosens, wipe it out.

Take some Vaseline or any petroleum jelly. Test it just as you tested with the olive oil. If it works then use it to rub off the paint. If you are dealing with latex based paint then soap, water and a scrub pad will do. Scrub the affected areas in circular motion till the paint comes off.

Stubborn paint or dry paint calls for nail polish remover. As always, test it first before using it. After that use bee wax to recondition the leather.

Your last resort would be to rub some alcohol to the paint and with the cotton swab, scrub it out. Alcohol should not be left on a spot for too long because it will damage the leather.

Removing paint stains from Suede Shoes

Suede is a sensitive material because it is not only fine but it is also fragile. Suede is less durable and this means that removing paint stains from it is even tougher but there are ways to go about it, gently.


  • A plastic knife
  • Cotton swabs
  • Detergent
  • Warm water
  • Sponge
  • Cloth


Time is of essence and therefore the moment you spot paint on your shoes, act swiftly. The earlier the better.

Scoop all the paint you can using a piece of dry cloth or cotton swabs. Do note that this procedure only works if the paint is wet. You should also be careful not to spread the paint. So scoop slowly and gently.

Take the plastic knife and scrape off as much paint as you can. This method works best with dry paint stains. You can also make use of a wire sponge but ensure it is not abrasive and do not be aggressive.

Using warm water
Add the detergent to warm water. Mix the two till they make foam. Using a soft sponge, apply this foam on the stain and rub it. This step is important because suede cannot be soaked in water.

Take a dry cloth and pour some leather cleaning fluid then use it to rub the paint stain on the shoe. Do this gently and in a circular motion. Blot out any excess moisture then leave the shoe to dry.

If the stain persists then it would be better to consult a cobbler. Do note that water-based paints are easier to get rid of than oil-based ones.


Getting paint off your shoes is not an easy task and that is why you should try your level best always to protect your shoes against paint related incidents or accidents.

The other fact that cannot be denied is that accidents will happen and when they do, you better act quickly. Reason being because the fresher the paint the quicker you can get rid of it without damaging your shoes.