How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Shoes

How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Shoes

Every painter understands the need for thorough cleanup at the end of the project.

Indeed, it’s one of the major considerations when preparing for a painting job.

It is a key reason many painters prefer water-based (latex) paint over oil-based (acrylic) paints. Water-based paints wash off easily.

But suppose you only have acrylic paint. In that case, you must prepare for a lengthy cleanup process, often involving acetone and paint thinners.

This guide explains the simplest and most effective ways how to remove acrylic paint from shoes.

Will Acrylic Paint Come Off My Shoes?

How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Shoes

Yes, you can remove acrylic paint from your shoes. It only takes a few minutes in many cases.

But the process can be more complicated depending on the following;

Types of paint

I’ve already mentioned that water-based paints are easier to wash off shoes than oil-based products.

But that’s not all. Even among the different oil-based paint products, some are easier to remove than others.

For instance, heavy-body acrylics are thicker, with a higher viscosity. So they’re more challenging to remove. Meanwhile, high-flow acrylics are easier to remove. 

Finally, most spray paints are oil-based, thus challenging to remove. So, be extra careful when using spray paint in windy conditions.

This implies to apply acrylic over spray paint; you need to sand down the surface first.

Dry or wet?

It’s slightly easier to remove wet paint stains. Unfortunately, dried paint is extremely difficult to remove.

One option is to wet the stain with warm water to loosen the paint pigments. But this can spread the stain onto previously unaffected areas, worsening your problems. 

For this reason, always try to remove paint stains before they dry. But if you have the right tools, you can remove the stains even when dried. 

Related Read: Should I Wet My Brush Before Acrylic Paint?

Type of shoes 

Finally, the ease of removing wet or dry paint stains depends on the type of shoes, specifically the shoe material.  

Leather shoes are the easiest to work with. You can scrape the dried paint with a utility knife and wipe the remaining stain with a wet cloth.

Unfortunately, fabric and canvas absorb paint. So, removing the deep-seated stains is a lot more challenging. 

How Do You Remove Wet Acrylic Paint from Shoes?

Removing wet paint stains involves scooping the excess paint, wetting the area with warm water, and scrubbing the stain gently before rinsing with water.

Afterwards, you can use an acetone product or nail polish remover to loosen and remove the stuck-in paint pigments.

I recommend the following steps to remove the paint without damaging your shoes. 

Tools and materials

  • Stiff bristled brush
  • A scoop
  • Butter knife 
  • Powder or dish soap
  • Nail polish remover
  • Denatured alcohol
  • Degreasing agent

How to remove wet acrylic paint from shoes: the step-by-step process

Scoop away the excess paint (optional): I use a scoop for the best results. But you can use other tools to draw and hold the excess paint. The aim is to remove as much paint as possible to hasten the cleanup process. 

Wet the affected area: Water breaks some chemical bonds, loosening the paint for easier removal. So, grab a rag, dip it in water, and gently dab the affected area. Lukewarm water works best. But cold water isn’t bad. 

Clean it with soap or detergent: Detergents break down the bonds holding paint molecules together for easier removal. Mix one part water and one part dish soap or laundry detergent. Then wash the affected area or gently scrub it with a sponge or wet rag. Most paint comes off at this stage. 

Rinse with clean water: Hold the shoe under running water to wash away the paint. Alternatively, dab the area with a wet cloth. You can also wash the shoe in a water basin, provided you change the water a few times. When done, assess your progress and proceed to the next step if there’s still lots of paint on the shoe. 

Remove the leftover paint stain with acetone: Some acrylic paints are extremely stubborn. In this case, some acetone goes a long way. It’s a powerful solvent that readily dissolves paint and varnish. That’s why it’s the main ingredient in nail polish and paint thinners. Dab a clean cloth into an acetone solution and gently rub the paint-stained area in a circular motion. Repeat until the stain disappears. It may take several passes. 

Must You Use Acetone to Remove Paint from Shoes? 

Must You Use Acetone to Remove Paint from Shoes? 

No, acetone isn’t mandatory to remove paint from shoes. Though it’s the most effective solvent for this purpose and similar applications, several other products must be considered. 

For instance, acetone-based nail polish remover works brilliantly. It’s slightly less powerful than 100% acetone.

But this can be an advantage for fabric and canvas shoes, given the toxicity of 100% acetone. 

How Do You Get Acrylic Paint Off Shoes Without Acetone?

There are several 100% acetone-free products to remove paint from shoes. The following are a few options;

Acetone-free nail polish remover

Acetone-free nail polish removers contain ethyl acetate or methyl ethyl ketone as the active ingredient.

Though not as effective as acetone-based removers, these products are less toxic and unlikely to bore a hole in your shoe. 

Paint thinner

Most paint thinners contain acetone as the main ingredient. But you can find many non-acetone-based thinners if you bother to look.

Some of the best alternatives are benzene, methanol, tolune, and turpentine-nased thinners. 

White vinegar

White vinegar is 5-10% acetic acid and about 90-95% water. It’s a popular kitchen product with multiple applications throughout the home.

More importantly, it’s harmless to humans. Soak a soft cloth in white vinegar and gently rub it on the affected area. The paint comes off after several passes. 

Baking soda

Sodium bicarbonate, locally known as baking soda, is a powerful stain remover. It is the magic wand most people use to tackle stained clothes, kitchenware, and floors.

Fortunately, it’s equally effective on paint stains. Mix a teaspoonful with water to make a light paste.

Then gently rub the paste against the paint-stained area until the stains disappear. 

Hydrogen peroxide

If you have a first aid kit at home (and you should), you’ll almost certainly find a bottle of hydrogen peroxide there.

It’s one of the most effective disinfectants and antiseptics for cleaning and treating open wounds. But the applications don’t end there.

Hydrogen peroxide contains an extra oxygen atom, making it an exceptional cleanser and bleaching agent. So, it’s perfect for removing paint stains.

Rubbing alcohol

Does rubbing alcohol remove paint? I’ve often encountered this question, especially among DIYers with nothing but alcohol at home.

The short answer is – yes. Like white vinegar, rubbing alcohol is a bleaching agent that eliminates colored pigments from paint. But be warned that it may bleach the shoes too. 

How Do You Remove Dried Acrylic Paint from Shoes? 

How Do You Remove Dried Acrylic Paint from Shoes? 

So, we’ve seen the general process for removing wet paint from shoes. But what if the paint has dried? Can you remove dried paint from your shoes? 

As expected, the short answer is yes. You can remove dried paint from shoes, even after several days.

However, it’s a much more challenging process than removing wet paint.

Moreover, some materials like fabric and canvas absorb acrylic paint so well that the stain is often visible inside. So, you need better tools to remove the stain. 

More importantly, scrape off the dried mound before dealing with the leftover stain.

I often use a utility knife to scrape off the paint. But consider a less sharp tool if you’re unwilling to take the risk. 

A flat-edged tool, like a spoon you no longer use in the kitchen, makes an excellent alternative.

If not, use a hard-bristled brush. Apply some pressure on the brush to remove as much paint as possible but not too much to damage the shoes. 

Below we explain the specific tools and step-by-step process for removing paint stains from various types of shoes. 

How to Get Acrylic Paint Off Leather Shoes

Are you feeling adventurous that you want to paint acrylic on your leather shoes? Painting shoes with acrylic can be fun so just do it.

Removing paint from leather shoes is easier than other types of shoes. But you must be keen not to damage the shoes. 


  • Cotton ball
  • Leather conditioner 
  • Clean cloth or paper towels
  • Mineral spirits or turpentine

Removing acrylic paint off leather shoes: step-by-step process

Blot the wet paint with a cotton swab: I usually begin by eliminating any traces of wet paint. Fortunately, this is easy. Lightly press a clean, dry cloth over the paint-stained area. Then dab to pick up as much wet paint as possible. Alternatively, roll a cotton swab over the affected area. Don’t rub or scrub, as it may spread the paint onto unaffected areas. 

Remove the dried paint using a scraping knife: Place the knife blade over the dried paint and scrape off as much of the paint as you can with gentle motions. Keep the blade on the dried paint throughout to avoid damaging the shoe. If it slides onto the leather, pause and lift it back onto the paint. 

Dab the stained area with olive oil: Dip a cotton swab into a bottle of olive oil and spread it over the paint-stained area. Olive oil moistens dried paint without making it too wet. Alternatively, use jojoba or coconut oil. Apply in small circles until you cover the whole affected area. Then wait for 15 minutes as the oil soaks into the dried paint. 

Remove the leftover paint with a scraping knife: You need a dull knife. Alternatively, a light chisel will do the job. A stiff-bristled brush is another option. Use smooth, gentle motions to scrape the loosened paint.

Wipe the dirt with a damp cloth: Wet a clean cloth in running water. Then use it to gently rub the stained area to remove the paint dust and debris. It takes a few passes to remove all the dirt. 

Allow the shoes to dry: The paint stain should be gone now. Otherwise, repeat steps 3, 4, and 5. Then air the shoes to dry in an open area away from direct sunlight. Finally, apply a leather conditioner to restore the shoes.

Related Post: What Can I Use to Seal Acrylic Paint on Leather

How to Remove Acrylic Paint Stain from Canvas and Fabric Shoes 

Fabric and canvas shoes are more delicate than rubber and suede shoes.

Moreover, the soft upper part readily absorbs paint. So, you should begin cleaning as soon as the shoe is stained.

Nevertheless, here’s how to remove dried paint from canvas or rubber shoes.


  • Soap/detergent 
  • Warm water
  • Clean cloth/rags
  • A toothbrush or soft-bristled brush
  • Cotton balls 

Removing paint off fabric/canvas shoes: step-by-step process

Step 1: Scrape and rinse the wet paint: A blunt knife works here too. But the risk of slicing through the material is higher. So, be extra careful. To this end, I recommend a hard-bristled brush instead of a knife. After loosening the paint, rinse the shoe with clean water. The process removes up to 70% of paint stains.

Step 2: Repeat step #1 with a toothbrush:  Use a softer brush this time. Wet the paint-stained area with clean water and brush it gently but firmly to remove more paint pigment. 

Step 3: Rinse the shoes with clean, warm water: Lukewarm water is sufficient. But ensure it’s free of salts. Otherwise, salt deposits can cause fresh rubber or canvas material stains. Dab the paint-stained spot with a wet rag, squeeze off the excess paint, rinse the rag, and then dab the spot again.

Step 4: Scrub the sole with soapy water: Remove it with a toothbrush if the sole has paint stains. Mix warm water with hand soap and add elbow grease to remove stubborn stains. Then scrub the soles aggressively until all the paint is gone. 

Step 5: Consider acetone for the worst stains: Sometimes, traces of the paint are visible even after hours of washing. If so, bring out 100% acetone to complete the job. Soak a cotton ball in acetone, press over the stained area, and allow it to soak for a few minutes. Then rinse off the spot with warm water.

Step 6: Allow the shoes to dry: Don’t dry them in the drier. Instead, allow them to dry naturally in an open area away from direct sunlight. 

How to Remove Acrylic Paint Stains from Suede Shoes

Unfortunately, suede is a delicate material. So, you cannot use paint thinner or scrub the shoes aggressively.

Soaking the shoes in a basin of water is also unadvisable. So, here’s what to do;


  • Suede brush
  • Dish soap
  • Pencil eraser
  • Fingernail file
  • Clean rags

How to remove paint stains off suede shoes: step-by-step process

Blot as much paint from the shoes as possible: Use a cotton ball or clean rag to blot wet paint from the suede shoes. Alternatively, scoop the wet paint before it dries. 

Wet the dried paint with soap suds and bubbles: Since it’s unwise to directly apply water to suede shoes, the best solution is suds and bubbles. Add dish soap to warm water to make the bubbles and suds, then apply to the stained spot, gently rubbing with a soft cloth. 

Remove the loosened soap with a dry cloth: Soapy water loosens dried paint. Use a dry cloth to massage the loose paint pigments from the suede material. Replace the dry cloth every few seconds to avoid wetting the shoes.

Run a pencil eraser toward the suede grain: Amazingly, rubbing a pencil eraser over paint loosens the pigments and “grinds” away the paint. Make multiple passes until all the paint is gone.  

Spead the suede cleaner over the leftover paint: Pour the suede cleaner into a small container. Then liberally apply it over the stained area using a suede brush. Ideally, you want to work toward the suede grains to nap the suede back in place. 

Allow to dry: Set the shoes in an open area to dry away from direct sunlight. Alternatively, dry them indoors under a fan.

How to Get Paint Out of Mesh Shoes

How to Get Paint Out of Mesh Shoes

To remove paint from mesh shoes, fill a small basin with warm water and add dish soap to make a lather.

Then dip an old toothbrush in the sudsy water and run it over the dried paint. If the stain doesn’t come off, rub acetone over the affected area and wipe it with a clean rag. 

How to Remove Water-Based Paint from Shoes

Removing water-based paint stains is much easier than acrylic paint. Often, washing the shoes with plenty of water removes the paint stains.

Alternatively, wipe the stained spot with a wet cloth with paper towels. If the stain persists, scrub it lightly with a toothbrush.

How to Revive Dried Acrylic Paint

Can you rehydrate acrylic paint? Yes, you can try reviving it. Add water or acrylic medium to the dried paint and mix thoroughly.

Gradually add small amounts of water until reaching the desired consistency. Use a palette knife to break up any lumps.

However, keep in mind that the quality may not be the same as fresh paint, so it’s best to prevent drying by sealing containers and using a wet palette.

Read Also:


Does acrylic paint wash off shoes?

Yes, some types of acrylic paint wash off shoes if soaked thoroughly. However, this only applies to selected types of shoes, specifically vinyl and leather shoes. Otherwise, you must use a different method to remove the paint. Moreover, the paint may not wash off once dried. 

Can I remove acrylic paint from my clothes?

Yes, you can get acrylic paint out of clothing. However, you will have to act quickly. To do this, use a hand sanitizer, rubbing alcohol, acetone, paint thinner, hair spray, or a stain remover.


You can easily remove acrylic paint from your shoes. But it depends on the type of shoes and whether the paint is wet or dry.

Wet paint is easier to remove than dried paint.

Similarly, removing paint from leather shoes is easier, unlike fabric and suede shoes that readily absorb paint pigment.


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