Accidents happen and shoes get ruined. It’s normal and we’ve all been there, but don’t give up on your favorite pair that easily. If you’re wondering how to get paint off leather shoes or if it’s even possible, we’ve got some good news for you.
Although paint stains are annoying and super stubborn, we’re happy to tell you that there are many ways how you can get them off your leather. It’s definitely one of the hardest things to remove from leather, but not all hope is lost.
The best thing about the methods we’ll cover – you probably already have all you need laying around your home. In no time, your shoes will go back to their pretty old self, and you’ll no longer have to keep them at the back of your closet.
There are many ways of getting paint off leather shoes, and we’ll go through some of the easiest ones that won’t take too much of your time. They’re fast, efficient, and will restore your favorite pair to its former glory.
How to get paint off leather shoes: 6 easy ways
Different stains require different treatments, depending on the type of paint you’ve used. When thinking of ways how to get paint off leather shoes, you’re probably wondering how much that little project is going to cost you. Luckily, all our methods are budget-friendly.
In fact, most of these things you probably already have somewhere in your house! It will be a real DIY project that won’t take too much time, but it will give you the results you want. So, without further ado, let’s see how you can get your lovely leather shoes back to how they were.
1. Try using soap and water
Although it’s not always the most efficient method, you should always try getting the paint off using soap and water. This method will work best if you’re dealing with fresh spills.
Start off by wetting a piece of fabric with warm water. You can even use a shoe mitt if you have it on hand. Add a few drops of mild dish soap to it, and start gently rubbing or patting the stained area. Repeat this until the paint comes off.
If the stain is more stubborn than you’ve previously thought, try soaking the spot for a few minutes to weaken it. In the end, you can even use a soft-bristled brush to remove the last remaining specks of paint.
Once you’re happy with the results, wash the area with clean water and pat dry it with another piece of fabric.
2. Using cooking or baby oil
When wondering how to get paint off leather shoes, you probably didn’t think to look inside your kitchen cabinets for a solution. Well, it might be hiding exactly there.
Using cooking oil is a pretty effective method to remove paint from your leather footwear, and it works best for removing stains that are already dry. The process is pretty easy. All you have to do is pour a few drops of cooking oil on the cloth and rub it into your stain.
That way, the dry pain will break and soften, which will make it easier for you to remove it. Once you’ve managed to peel off some of it, wipe away the excess oil with a cloth. If the stain isn’t completely gone, you can repeat the process.
If you’re dealing with an acrylic paint stain, a good method for you would be using baby oil. Simply soak a cotton swab in the oil and rub the stain. This will break down the paint and quickly lift it off the shoe. After the pain has been removed, use a clean cloth to wipe away the excess.
3. Using vinegar
Go back to your kitchen and pick up a bottle of vinegar, because it might the solution. Since vinegar is acidic, it can easily break down paint and remove it from your leather shoes.
Start by patting the stain with a clean cloth to absorb as much paint as you can. After that, mix 1 part vinegar with 2 parts water. Soak a clean cloth in the mixture and start carefully scrubbing the stain. After the stain has lifted, rinse it with warm water and let your shoes air dry.
4. Using nail polish remover
If you’re googling how to get paint off leather shoes because there’s a completely cured stain on your favorite pair, you might want to find your acetone-based nail polish remover.
Start by soaking a clean piece of fabric in warm water and letting it sit on the stain for a few minutes to loosen the paint. After this part’s over, take a cotton pad soaked in an acetone-based nail polish remover, and gently rub it in circles over the stain. At this point, you should notice the paint coming off.
After cleaning the area with a damp cloth, let it air dry. Since nail polish can damage the leather, we recommend using some leather conditioner to help restore it.
Just bear in mind that this method should be your last resort. It would be a good idea to test it by trying this method on a small area of your shoe first. If you want to play it safe, you can try using a non-acetone nail polish remover, but still, avoid using it too harshly.
5. Using Vaseline
If you opt for this option then make sure to use it similarly to oil. Apply a small amount of it to a cotton ball and start rubbing the area stained by the paint. The magical Vaseline will loosen up and break down the paint, making it easier for you to wipe it away.
After you’ve rubbed the Vaseline into the pain, wipe off the remains using a clean cloth. After that, using a soft-bristled brush, brush away the loose paint.
However, although it seems harmless, you should be careful when using Vaseline on your leather footwear. Applying too much of it and being too harsh can change color of your shoes.
6. Using alcohol
If none of the methods we’ve previously mentioned work, you can try using alcohol. To remove paint stains this way, soak a cotton ball or cloth in the alcohol and start slowly dabbing the stained area. After some time, you’ll notice that the pain started dissolving and coming off onto the cloth.
When most of the paint has come off, wipe down the area but this time use a damp cloth. That way, you’ll remove any alcohol or paint that’s left on your shoes. Lastly, use a dry piece of fabric and tap-dry the area.
If you decide to use alcohol, make sure you do it with caution. It’s essential to be careful with how much pressure you apply when rubbing the alcohol into your shoes.
Although it’s an efficient way to remove paint stains, alcohol is pretty harsh and it can dry out your leather. Just like was the case with nail polish remover, try this method on a small area first before applying it to the entire shoe.
Things to keep in mind
Now that we’ve learned different methods of getting paint off your leather shoes, it’s important to go over some risks, too. The last thing you’d want is to create even more damage. To avoid doing that, let’s see what are some things you should keep in mind.
1. Don’t scrub the paint off
Because leather is so sensitive, most of our methods involve dubbing or gently scrubbing with soft materials such as cotton pads or cloths. The last thing you’d want is to damage your favorite leather shoes, so make sure you never scrub them with sharp objects.
Not only can it harm your shoes, but damaged leather is much harder to clean and you’ll have a lot of issues trying to remove paint from it. To avoid this, make sure you always use soft cloths or brushes, and stay away from anything sharp, no matter how tempting it might be.
2. Don’t let the paint dry
Don’t think too much about how to get paint off leather shoes, but make sure you act quickly. It’s the best thing you can do. If you notice the stain while it’s still wet, it will be a lot easier to clean. Sometimes, simply using water and some dish soap can do the trick.
If you let the paint dry first, it might require you to use harsher methods. Some of them might even include vigorous scrubbing, which can damage your leather even more.
3. Stay away from harsh chemicals
Because harsh chemicals can damage leather, you should never use them on your shoes. Yes, we know how tempting it can be. It probably seems like the fastest and the most efficient way to get rid of the stain, but trust us when we tell you that it will create even more problems.
Always opt for softer and milder solutions to remove paint stains. Vinegar, Vaseline, or non-acetone nail polish removers are always a good idea.
4. Use leather conditioner after harsh methods
Unfortunately, sometimes the stains we deal with can be really stubborn, and they require some riskier options. If there’s absolutely no way for you to remove paint stains from the leather without using some harsher methods, such as alcohol or acetone-based nail polish, there’s still hope to save your shoes.
After using chemicals on your leather shoes, it’s important to always follow them up with a leather conditioner. These kinds of products are made to replenish the natural oils in our leather footwear.
When using harsher methods, these oils get stripped away during cleaning. Without them, our leather shoes become brittle, dry, and can easily crack. Adding some kind of leather conditioner as a last step to save and protect your shoes can make a lot of difference.
“Leather Honey” Leather Conditioner works great and it’s safe to use on everything made out of leather, including shoes.
Lastly, to avoid all the things we’ve mentioned, try not wearing your leather shoes when painting. There’s always a chance that paint might get on them, no matter how much you protect them. An old pair that you don’t mind getting dirty is always the best option.