How to Remove Shoe Polish

Shoe polish can do wonders for dull and dingy shoes, but a shoe polish stain on your clothes can be very tricky to remove. Shoe Polish comes in two primary varieties: liquid and paste. Each one requires a slightly different technique for successful removal.

Removing Liquid Shoe Polish

What You Will Need:

  • Absorbent white paper towels
  • Isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol
  • Cold water
  • Two cups or small bowls
  • White terrycloth towel
  • Powdered laundry detergent
  • Liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach

Steps for Removal:

  1. Blot at stain with white paper towels, using a lifting motion (never rub as this may spread the stain and make it worse), until no more polish comes up on the paper towel.
  2. In a cup or bowl, mix a solution of one part isopropyl (rubbing) alcohol and two parts cold water (NOTE: for durable cotton whites, you may use undiluted rubbing alcohol).
  3. Saturate the terrycloth towel with the alcohol/water solution and blot the stain, making sure to get both sides of the fabric (ALWAYS test a small, inconspicuous area of fabric first to make sure the alcohol solution will not damage or discolor the material). Continue blotting until the stain has faded or no more stain comes up on the terrycloth towel.
  4. In a cup or bowl, make a paste of cold water and powdered laundry detergent. The paste should be the consistency of toothpaste.
  5. Apply the paste to the stain (both sides) and allow to set for about 15 minutes.
  6. Launder as usual, following care directions on the tag of the fabric. Use the liquid detergent with color safe bleach. (If the fabric you are washing is bleach-safe, you may use bleach along with regular laundry detergent).
  7. After the fabric has been laundered, check carefully to make sure the stain has been completely removed before placing in the dryer. NEVER place an item in the dryer if the stain remains as the heat from the dryer will set the stain and it will be nearly impossible to get out.
  8. If any stain remains, repeat steps 2-6.

Removing Paste Shoe Polish

What you will need:

  • Plastic knife
  • White paper towels
  • Dry Cleaning solution, such as AFTA Cleaning Fluid or K2R Spot Lifter
  • Warm water
  • Small cup or bowl
  • Powdered laundry detergent
  • Liquid laundry detergent with color safe bleach

Steps for Removal:

  1. Using the plastic knife, gently scrape away any excess shoe polish, being careful not to rub it into the fiber or snag the fabric with the edge of the knife.
  2. Gently blot at the stain with the paper towels, using a quick lifting motion. NEVER rub the stain, or you will cause it to spread or go deeper into the fabric.
  3. Treat the area of the stain with the dry cleaning solution (both K2R and AFTA, as well as other similar products, can be found at most home improvement and cleaning supply stores, and online) carefully reading and following all directions on the product (Be sure to test the product on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric first to make sure it will not damage or discolor the material).
  4. Rinse the area with warm water.
  5. In a cup or bowl, make a paste of warm water and powdered laundry detergent. The paste should be the consistency of toothpaste.
  6. Apply the paste to the stain (both sides) and allow to set for about 15 minutes.
  7. Launder as usual, following care directions on the tag of the fabric. Use the liquid detergent with color safe bleach (NOTE: if the fabric you are washing is bleach-safe, you may use bleach along with regular laundry detergent).
  8. After the fabric has been laundered, check carefully to make sure the stain has been completely removed before placing in the dryer. NEVER place an item in the dryer if the stain remains as the heat from the dryer will set the stain and it will be nearly impossible to get out.
  9. If any stain remains, repeat steps 3-7.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Always treat a shoe polish stain as soon as possible. If allowed to dry, the stain will set in and will be much more difficult to remove.
  • The best way to treat a shoe polish stain is to avoid getting them to begin with. Always protect your work area and wear old clothing (or a protective apron) when polishing your shoes. Always follow all directions on the shoe polish.
  • If the above method of stain removal fails to remove the stain entirely, check with the manufacturer of the particular shoe polish you are using for additional advice on stain removal. You can usually find a manufacturer’s phone number or website information on the product information or packaging.
  • If your fabric is a delicate material, such as wool or silk, consider taking the item to a professional cleaner to avoid damage or discoloration.
  • NEVER attempt any of these cleaning methods on fabric that is designated as dry clean only; any such fabric should be taken to a professional dry cleaner.
  • ALWAYS test your cleaning solution on a small, inconspicuous area of the fabric before treating the stained area.
  • Always follow all care instructions and warning on the label of your particular clothing or fabric before following any of these stain removal suggestions. If anything contained on the label of your clothing or fabric contradicts the advice given here, opt to follow the advice on the label.

Comments

  1. Bethany says:

    Thank you. SAVED MY LIFE!
    well, from mum anyway :D

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