How to Get Paint Off Leather Shoes: A Detailed Explanation

Paint is among the most challenging materials to remove from leather shoes. Paint stains make the leather shoes look dirty and unappealing. If you’re not careful, the paint might also affect the color of your shoes.

Fortunately, there are some methods to remove paint from leather boots. The first step is to identify the type of paint on the shoes. The most common types of paint are acrylic paint, oil-based paint, and water-based paint (also called latex paint).

Acrylic Paint

Acrylic paint is a chemically derived paint composed of acrylic resin and pigment contained in an acrylic polymer solution. This paint is non-toxic, non-flammable, and produces no fumes.

Acrylic paints are usually easy to remove from leather shoes. However, If the color has been allowed to dry for an extended period, it can be difficult to remove.

Water-Based Paint or Latex Paint

Water-based paint, also known as latex paint, is a paint that uses water as a vehicle to carry the pigment. It is the most common type of paint globally and is usually used indoors because it has low fumes.

Most water-based paints can be removed easily from leather boots.

Oil-Based Paint

Oil-based paint is a type of paint that is formulated using solvents. Solvents used in this type of paint are usually alkyd (synthetic) or linseed (natural). Oil-based paints are generally used in exterior applications because they have high durability and weathering resistance.

Oil-based paints are the most difficult ones to remove from leather shoes. Oil paints should be removed as soon as possible to prevent the paint from drying. Wet paint is much easier to remove than dry paint.

Once you have identified the type of paint, it is time to start removing it. Based on the type of paint, we have divided the article into the following three parts –

  1. How to get acrylic paint off leather shoes
  2. How to get wall paint off shoes
  3. How to remove oil paint from leather shoes

We have also added a section specifically for suede shoes.

Please feel free to jump to the appropriate section based on your needs.

Can you use paint thinner on leather?

No, paint thinner should never be used on leather. Paint thinner contains harsh chemicals like mineral spirits and true turpentine. These chemicals will dry out the leather and cause it to crack or peel.

How to Get Acrylic Paint Off Leather Shoes

Olive Oil or Baby Oil

Step by step instruction on cleaning acrylic paint using olive oil and baby oil.

One of the most common ways to get dry paint stains off leather boots is by using baby oil or olive oil. Here is a list of items you will need –

  • Olive oil or baby oil (other cooking oil will also work)
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls
  • A bowl of warm water
  • Dry cloth
  • Blunt knife (optional)
  • Dishwashing liquid (dye-free)

Step-1 Take a cotton swab or a cotton ball and dip it in the baby oil or olive oil.

Step-2 Apply the oil to the stain and let it sit for 10 minutes. This will allow the oil to penetrate deep into the paint and loosen it up. Ensure that you do not use too much oil as it might seep into the leather and cause oil stains.

Step-3 Once the oil is completely absorbed by the paint, gently scrape it with the help of your fingernail. You can also use a blunt knife for this purpose. Make sure you do not scrape too hard, or you might damage the shoe.

If the paint is still not removed, repeat steps one and two until you get the desired results.

Step-4 After you’ve removed the color, pour some warm water into a bowl and add some dishwashing liquid. Dip a cotton cloth in the soapy water and rub it on the leather. This will remove any leftover oil or residue from the shoes.

Petroleum Jelly

Step by step instruction on cleaning acrylic paint using petroleum jelly.

Another easy way to get acrylic paint off leather shoes is by using petroleum jelly. We used vaseline to remove paint stains. Items you will need –

  • Petroleum jelly (Vaseline)
  • A bowl of warm water
  • Liquid detergent (dye-free)
  • Dry cloth
  • Blunt knife

Step-1 Take a clean cloth and dab some petroleum jelly onto it.

Step-2 Apply the jelly to the paint stain and let it sit for about 15 minutes. Do not apply the petroleum jelly too liberally as it might stain the leather.

Step-3 Take a blunt knife and gently scrape the paint off the leather boots. Ensure that you do not use too much force when scouring as it might damage the boot.

Step-4 After you have peeled off the paint, take a bowl of warm water and add some liquid detergent. Soak a cloth in soapy water and wipe the boots. This will remove any remaining petroleum jelly or residue.

Nail Polish Remover

Step by step instruction on removing acrylic paint using nail polish remover.

Acetone present in nail polish removers has strong solvent properties which can be used for removing paint from leather boots. To use this method, you will need –

  • Nail polish remover (Acetone based)
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls
  • Damp cloth
  • Leather conditioner or polish

Acetone-based nail polish remover should never be used on dark-colored shoes.

Step-1 Pour some acetone-based nail polish remover onto a cotton swab or cotton ball.

Step-2 Dab the acetone-soaked cotton swab onto the dry acrylic paint stain. Continue dabbing until the stain comes off on the cotton swab. You may need more than one cotton swab to remove all the paint completely.

Please make sure not to rub the cotton swab on the leather. Rubbing the cotton swab will spread the paint. Do not keep the cotton swab on the same spot for too long, as it might dry out the leather.

Step-3 As soon as you remove the paint, take a damp cloth and wipe the shoes to remove leftover acetone and remaining lacquer. Let the shoe air dry naturally.

Step-4 Once your shoes are dried, apply some leather conditioner or polish to the boots. This will help keep the leather from drying out and cracking.

Applying leather care products is an important step, especially if you are using the acetone method.

Vinegar

Step by step instruction on removing acrylic paint using vinegar.

Vinegar is a mild acid that can remove paint from leather boots. To use this method, you will need –

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloths (or sponge)
  • Dull knife

Step-1 Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Shake the bottle thoroughly to mix the solution.

Step-2 Spray this solution onto the paint spots and let it sit for 10 minutes. The vinegar will start to break down the pigment and loosen it up. Do not apply too much of the vinegar solution as it might damage leather material.

Step-3 After ten minutes, take a dull knife and gently scrape the stain off of your boots. You can also use your fingernails for this purpose. Make sure you do not scrape too hard, or you might cut the leather.

Step-4 Take a clean cloth or sponge and dip it in a bowl of water. Ensure the cloth or sponge is damp but not dripping wet. Wipe your boots with a damp cloth or sponge to remove the vinegar solution and color residue. Once you remove all traces of paint, let your shoes air dry naturally.

How to Get Wall Paint Off Shoes

Dye-free Liquid Detergent

Step by step instruction on removing latex paint using liquid detergent.

Liquid detergent works well for removing latex paint from leather shoes. Make sure the detergent you use does not contain artificial dyes. Artificial dyes will discolor and stain your leather shoes. Here is a list of items you will need –

  • Dye-free liquid detergent
  • A bowl of warm water
  • Scrub pad
  • Cloths

Step-1 Take a bowl of warm water and add a few drops of dye-free liquid detergent to it. Mix the solution thoroughly to form a soapy solution.

Step-2 Take a scrub pad and dip it in the soapy solution. Make sure the scrub pad is damp but not dripping wet.

Soak a cloth in the soapy solution and leave it on the stained area for 15 minutes if you have the time. This will allow the soapy water to penetrate the leather and soften the paint.

Step-3 Scrub the soap solution onto the paint spot with a scrub pad until all traces of latex paint have been removed from your shoes. You may need to use a little force when scrubbing, especially if trying to remove stubborn paint stains from leather. You should avoid using circular motions as this can work the color into the leather rather than wiping it away.

You can also use a toothbrush to scrub the dye off.

Step-4 Once you are done scrubbing, take a dry cloth and wipe your shoes to remove the soapy solution from the surface. Wipe them thoroughly but gently as you do not want to damage or stretch out any areas of your leather boots. Let your shoes air dry naturally before wearing them again.

Toothpaste

Step by step instruction on removing latex paint using toothpaste.

Toothpaste contains mild abrasives that can help you remove paint stains on leather boots. Make sure the toothpaste you use does not contain any artificial dyes. Here are some items you will need –

  • Toothpaste (chalk-based)
  • Water in a spray bottle
  • Cloths
  • Horsehair brush

Toothpaste should never be used on dark-colored shoes.

Step-1 Brush off the dry paint from your boots using a horsehair brush. This will also remove any loose dirt and debris.

Step-2 Spray some water onto the paint spots to wet them down. Take a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and apply it directly to the stains. Rub it into the paint spot using gentle circular motions for about 30 seconds to one minute. Let the toothpaste sit for a minute or two.

Step-3 Spray some more water on the paint spot to wet the toothpaste. Using a dry cloth, wipe off toothpaste from the leather. Once again, wipe the boots with a moist cloth to ensure all toothpaste has been removed.

It’s okay if you still have toothpaste on your leather boots; just let it dry. After the toothpaste has dried, brush it off with a horsehair brush.

Vinegar Solution

Step-by-step guide for cleaning latex paint with vinegar.

Vinegar is a mild acidic agent that can help remove paint stains from leather shoes. Here is a list of items you will need –

  • White vinegar
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloths (or paper towel)

Step-1 Pour equal parts of white vinegar and water into a spray bottle. Gently shake the bottle to mix the solution.

Step-2 Spray this solution on the paint spots and let it sit for 15 minutes. Vinegar will break down the pigment to make it easier to remove. Be careful not to apply too much vinegar solution as it may damage the leather.

Step-3 After 15 minutes, wipe your shoes with a damp cloth to remove the paint. Avoid using circular motions when wiping the leather, as this will work the coloring into the leather rather than removing it.

Step-4 Take another dry cloth and wipe your shoes to ensure proper cleaning. It is best to wipe them thoroughly but gently, as you do not want to scratch the leather. Allow your boots to air dry naturally before wearing them again.

Lemon

Step-by-step guide for cleaning latex paint with lemon.

Lemon contains citric acid, which is perfect for removing stubborn paint stains from leather. Here are some items you will need –

  • Lemon
  • A bowl of warm water
  • Clean cloth or cotton swab

Step-1 Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto the bowl of warm water. Mix well.

Step-2 Take the squeezed part of the lemon and dip it into the solution. Rub it directly onto the paint spots for about 30 seconds to one minute. Let the lemon juice sit for 10 minutes to work its magic.

Ensure that you use the squeezed portion of the lemon. Using a fully fleshed lemon directly will permanently damage the leather shoes.

Step-3 Wet a clean cloth or cotton swab with fresh warm water and wipe off the lemon solution and paint stains. Make sure to wipe gently in a small circular motion to avoid damaging your leather boots. Let your shoes air dry naturally before wearing them again.

How to Remove Oil Paint From Leather Shoes

Acetone

Step-by-step guide for cleaning oil paint with acetone.

Acetone is a powerful solvent that can remove oil paint from leather shoes. Here is a list of items you will need –

  • Acetone (nail polish remover will also work)
  • Cotton balls
  • Wet cloth
  • Leather conditioner

Acetone should never be used on dark-colored shoes.

Step-1 Pour some acetone onto a cotton ball.

Step 2: Dab the cotton ball soaked in acetone onto the dry paint stain. Continue dabbing with firm strokes for about 1 minute. Then, leave the cotton ball on the stained area for 2 minutes.

The cotton ball will absorb most of the oil pigment. You may need more than one cotton ball to remove all the paint completely.

Make sure not to rub the cotton ball on the leather. Rubbing the cotton ball will spread the color.

Step 3: Using your fingernails, scrape off as much paint as you can. If there is still some left, take an acetone-soaked cotton ball and dab it until the dye comes off.

Step-4 After removing the paint, wipe the shoes with a damp cloth to remove any remaining acetone. Let the shoe air dry naturally away from direct sunlight.

Step-5 Apply leather conditioner to your shoes once they have dried. This will prevent the leather from drying out and cracking.

Applying leather care products is crucial, especially if you use harsh chemicals like acetone.

Rubbing Alcohol

Step-by-step guide for removing oil paint with rubbing alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol contains isopropyl alcohol, which specifically targets the oil in paint to dissolve it on contact easily. This will make removing the color easier and faster than water or acetone alone. To use this method, you will need –

  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cotton cloth or paper towel
  • Wet cloth
  • Leather polish or conditioner

Step-1 Take a cotton cloth and saturate it with rubbing alcohol. Make sure to wring out the excess liquid.

Step-2 Dab the alcohol-soaked cloth onto the paint spots. Do not rub, as this will spread the color. The alcohol will break down the paint to make it easier to remove. Continue dabbing until the stain is removed.

Step-3 Take a wet cloth and wipe your leather boots. This will get rid of any residues as well as the rubbing alcohol solution. Allow your leather boots to air dry.

Step-4 After your boots have dried, apply a generous amount of leather polish or conditioner. Leather care products will moisturize the leather and make it supple again.

Bleach

Step-by-step guide for cleaning oil paint with bleach.

Bleach is a powerful chemical that can lighten or remove colors from surfaces. It can also be used to clean leather boots. However, bleach should only be used as a last resort because it can damage the surface of the leather if not used correctly.

Bleach should never be used on dark-colored shoes.

*Note – Please make sure you clean your leather boots outside or in a well-ventilated area.

Here is a list of items you will need –

  • Bleach
  • A bowl
  • Coldwater
  • A pair of latex gloves
  • Toothbrush
  • Horsehair brush
  • Cloth

Step-1 First, make sure your leather boots are clean. If they have dirt or mud on them, brush them with a horsehair brush before applying bleach.

Step-2 Put on some latex gloves. Measure out a small amount of bleach into a bowl. Dilute the bleach sufficiently with cold water until the ammonia smell disappears.

You should never use hot water for cleaning, as it will react with bleach and create toxic fumes.

Step-3 Dip a toothbrush into the diluted bleach solution and brush back and forth over the paint spot. Be sure to scrub thoroughly. Continue brushing until all the paint is removed from that specific spot.

Step-4 After removing paint stains from that specific spot, take a wet cloth and wipe off the bleach solution. Allow your leather boots to dry naturally.

Step-5 Apply a generous amount of leather polish or conditioner once your boots have dried. Leather care products will help restore the natural oils in the leather and prevent any damage done by the bleach. Using these products will replenish the suppleness of the leather and prevent it from wrinkling.

How to Remove Paint From Suede Shoes

Suede is a delicate material that can easily be damaged by harsh chemicals like acetone. So it is vital to use the correct methods to get paint off leather shoes.

Check out our complete guide on taking care of suede shoes.

Liquid Detergent

Step by step instruction on removing paint from suede shoes using liquid detergent.

Liquid detergent works well for cleaning paint from suede leather. Make sure the detergent you use does not contain artificial dyes. Artificial dyes will discolor and stain your shoes. To use this method, you will need –

  • Dye-free liquid detergent
  • A bowl of warm water
  • A suede brush or crepe brush
  • Cloth or paper towel

Step-1 Brush off the dry paint with a suede brush. This will remove most of the dried paint and make the cleaning process more manageable.

Step-2 Mix warm water and liquid detergent in a bowl until it forms suds. Mix the solution thoroughly.

Step-3 Dip your suede brush or crepe brush into the soapy solution and scrub the paint spots. Continue scrubbing until all the pigment is removed from the shoes. Ensure the suede brush or crepe brush is damp but not dripping wet.

You should avoid using circular motions as this can work the coloring into the leather rather than wiping it away.

Step-4 Once you are done scrubbing, take a dry cloth or paper towel and dab your shoes to remove the soapy solution from the leather. Dab them thoroughly but gently as you do not want to damage the suede material. Let your shoes air dry naturally before wearing them again.

Suede Eraser

Step by step instruction on cleaning paint from suede shoes using a suede eraser.

Suede erasers are the best way to clean paint from suede boots. Here is a list of items you will need –

  • Suede eraser
  • A suede brush or crepe brush
  • A small bowl of water
  • Soft cloth

Step-1 Use a suede brush or crepe brush to remove loose dirt and debris from the shoes. This is also a good way to remove dried paint. Sweep the bristles towards the center of your shoes and then move outwards.

Step-2 Apply the suede eraser to the stained areas. Work in the direction of the grain by applying gentle pressure. Be careful not to overuse the suede eraser, as it will take off the top layer of suede boots.

Step-3: Wet a soft cloth with water and wring out the excess water. Use this damp cloth to wipe off the suede eraser residue from your boots.

Be sure to completely dry your suede boots before wearing them. Once the boots have dried, brush again to remove any remaining paint.

The Bottom Line

Paint can be a headache to remove, but luckily there are some ways you can make the process much easier. All the methods explained above are easy and safe to use. You can choose any method that best suits you depending on what is available in your home.

We recommend trying a cleaning method on a less noticeable spot first. This way, you can see how the process works on your specific type of leather before tackling a bigger stain.

Ensure you apply leather care products like leather wax, polish, or conditioner after cleaning your shoes. By doing so, you will be restoring the natural oils in your boots and preventing further damage from occurring due to dryness.

Leave a Comment