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Leather shoes are a stylish and sturdy choice, but they can get messy if paint spills on them. Cleaning paint off leather shoes requires a gentle touch to ensure the leather isn’t damaged during the process. Here’s how to clean paint off leather shoes in detail.

Quick Note:

To remove paint from leather shoes, identify the type of paint; water-based is easier to remove. Gently scrape off dried paint with a moist cloth, then blot any remaining paint. Apply a small amount of leather cleaner or mild soap on a cloth, gently rub the stained area, wipe away residue with a clean damp cloth, let the shoes air dry, and finally, apply a leather paint to restore the look.

Go through the rest of the article as I am going to share how I cleaned paint off my leather shoes. 

How to remove paint from leather shoes

How To Clean Paint Off Leather Shoes? (Using Nail Polish Remover And Acetone)

I love my leather shoes, but they got messy with some paint splatters. Here’s my detailed guide on how I got the paint off using nail polish remover and acetone. This method is applicable to remove paint from nike shoes as well.

Step 1: Figuring Out the Paint

First, I checked the type of paint on the shoes. Luckily, it was water-based paint, which is easier to clean. I decided to go ahead with the cleaning process using nail polish remover and acetone, which are known to be good solvents for this purpose. Before starting, I ensured I had all necessary supplies ready: a soft cloth, cotton balls, nail polish remover, acetone, and a leather paint to restore the shoes afterward.

Step 2: Small Test

I was nervous about making things worse, so I tested a tiny bit of nail polish remover on a hidden part of the shoe to make sure it wouldn’t damage the leather.

Step 3: Preparation

In a well-ventilated room, I began working on a table to avoid any additional mess on the floor, and removed the laces from my shoes. I had a bowl of clean water and mild soap ready for any quick clean-up or to neutralize the acetone or nail polish remover if needed. 

Step 4: Scraping Off the Dried Paint

Gently, I scraped off the dried paint using a wet cloth, focusing on small sections at a time to avoid scratching the leather. Wiping the shoe with a soft rag helped get rid of any loose paint chips. This slow process helped in reducing further damage to the shoes, and prepared the leather for the solvent treatment.

remove dried paint from leather shoes

Step 5: Using Nail Polish Remover

I applied a small amount of nail polish remover onto a soft cloth, gently dabbing it on the paint stains, ensuring not to over-wet the leather. Working in a circular motion, the paint began to dissolve gradually. 

After a few gentle rubs, the paint started lifting, revealing the clean leather underneath. I wiped the area with a clean, dry cloth piece to clean any remaining nail polish remover.

Step 6: Drying Time

I placed my shoes in a well-ventilated area for natural air drying, avoiding direct sunlight or artificial heat to prevent leather damage. The process took a few hours, but it was rewarding to see the paint gone and the original leather slowly regaining its former look. 

Step 7: Trying Acetone

There were a few stubborn spots left, so I tried a bit of acetone. Once confirmed safe, I dabbed a small amount on a clean cloth, gently rubbing the persistent stains. The acetone helped in dissolving the remaining paint, which I then wiped away with a rough cloth. 

I used acetone sparingly due to its strong solvent nature, ensuring it didn’t soak through the leather, and was pleased to see the last of the paint spots fade away, leaving my shoes looking new.

Step 8: Applying Angelus Acrylic Leather Paint

After ensuring the shoes were thoroughly cleaned and dried from the previous steps, I decided to touch up the appearance by applying leather paint. I opted for Angelus Acrylic Leather Paint because it is specifically designed for leather, ensuring a flexible, durable finish that won’t crack, peel, or fade over time. 

Remove and apply angelus paint for shoes

Moreover, its high-quality formulation adheres well to the leather, providing a flawless, professional finish, which was precisely what I needed to bring my beloved leather shoes back to life. 

Shaking the paint bottle well, I used a fine paintbrush to apply thin, smooth coats on the leather, leaving each layer to dry fully before the next. 

Paint Leather shoes

Once satisfied with the coverage, I allowed the shoes to get dried fully in a well-ventilated area. To seal the paint and add a protective layer, I applied Angelus Acrylic finisher which also gave a nice shine to the leather, restoring my shoes and providing a fresh, revitalized look.

Final Look


The white color of my shoes was back and they looked almost new. The shine from the finisher made them look clean and fresh. I was really satisfied with the final results and glad to have my favorite shoes renewed.

Methods To Remove Different Type Of Paint From Leather Boots

Type of PaintPaint Cleaners for LeatherDetails
Oil PaintBaking soda or cornstarchApply cornstarch or baking soda to the paint stain to soak up the oil, let it sit for a few hours, then slowly brush it off.
Dry PaintWhite VinegarDampen a breathable cloth with white vinegar and slightly erase the dry paint finish. White vinegar helps to loosen and lift the dry paint.
Wet PaintMild soap and damp clothBlot the wet paint with a wet cloth to remove as much paint as possible, then smoothly wipe with a mild soap mixture to clean the area.
Acrylic PaintSoap mixed in waterUse a mixture of mild soap and water to carefully rub the acrylic paint coat. Rinse with an extra piece of fabric and let dry.
Spray PaintAlcoholSoak a soft cloth with alcohol and slowly buff the spray paint spots in a circular motion. Rinse with a piece of cloth and leave it to dry.
Latex PaintVinegar and waterMix vinegar and water equally, dampen a cotton piece of cloth with the mixture , and gradually clean the latex paint stain. Rinse with a breathable, wet cloth and let dry.
Emulsion PaintAcetone or AlcoholCheck a small, hidden area with acetone or alcohol to make sure the leather is safe. Then, use a soft cloth dampened with acetone or alcohol to gently rub the emulsion paint stain. Thoroughly rinse, followed by quick dry.

Final Thoughts On How to remove paint from leather shoes

The article provides a detailed guide on how to clean paint off leather shoes using household items like nail polish remover and acetone. I have also shared various methods suggested for different types of paint removal, making the process adaptable. Post-cleaning, applying a leather paint is advisable to revive and maintain the leather. 

Rosalie Sanchez-Holapaints writer and owner

Rosalie Sanchez

DIY enthusiast with years of experience in home decor and home improvement. With a passion for educating consumers about DIY projects. Every time, I work with our painting professionals to provide you with the best painting product reviews and how-to advice. You can follow me on Facebook.

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