How to Get Paint Off Shoes

Ryan Brown
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Why Paint is So Hard to Get Off Shoes

There are so many reasons why painting with a brush is far better than using a roller. For one, a brush can be used to paint detailed and sharp edges unlike a roller. A brush can be used smoothly on the wall and is much better for fine details.

The key to a good paint job, however, is to not get paint on your shoes. But whether you use a brush or a roller, your shoes can definitely get paint on them!

Using a brush, paint may drip into your shoes if you are not paying attention or are standing in front of the painting surface. Even if you’re not going for the crazy detailwork as mentioned above, you can still spill some paint onto your shoes. This spill can also happen if you are transitioning from one color to another with one brush.

The roller can catch paint and splash accidentally. Ideally you should change your roller when you change the color, but if this is not an option, there is still hope.

How to Get Paint Off Canvas Shoes

This is an oft underestimated concern. But little are you know that paint and other paint related materials could be hazardous if it lands on your shoes. A wet paint is even worse.

And if your shoes are canvas shoes, the problem is doubly bad. Canvas absorbs liquids more than most other materials. It can also stain easily. No matter how careful you are, paint can get on your shoes.

When this happens, you’ll want to remove it as soon as possible to reduce the chances of stains setting into the canvas.

Alternatively, you can just paint your shoes. But I digress.

Because you can’t avoid paint spilling on your shoes from time to time, the best thing you can do is to have a stain removing solution handy.

There are dozens of different products designed to remove stains from different materials. And chances are that you already have a bottle at hand.

What you’re looking for is a solution that is effective for canvas. Fortunately, most pre-made solutions are designed to work on different types of materials. So you’re good to go. If you don’t have a stain removing product at home, there’s a DIY recipe you can use right now.

This is the same DIY solution used to remove all types of stain from canvas.

Cut Away the Excess

Shooting a couple of rounds of paintballs is always exciting. But the ride back home may be less than pleasing if you’re wearing white shoes.

The first thing you need to do is to cut away the excess paint. Using a pair of scissors or a pair of nail nippers, cut the paint off in the same direction as your leg hair. You don’t want to shave off your leg hair, so you want to be sure not to cut that away as well.

If the paint has already dried, you’ll be able to hear it breaking apart under the scissors. When you get close to the paint, dissolve it down with acetone to avoid taking some of the layers of your shoe with you.

Use a non-acetone nail polish remover or acetone to clean the excess paint on the shoe.

Use a Wet Cloth

The easiest way to get paint off your sneakers is to use a wet cloth.

You might need to clean a small area that has paint and your sneakers are already dirty.

If this is the case, you can use water.

Just put a wet cloth and wipe off the paint.

Add Soap

Paint acts as a sealant and is, therefore, quite durable. However, it can be removed with some patience and a bit of elbow grease.

Here are some tips on how you can get paint off:

Mix water and dishwashing detergent to create a blend that is good for hand washing dishes. The detergent acts as a degreaser and helps get the paint off.

Put on thick rubber gloves and put the detergent solution into the bowl.

Soak the paint-covered shoes in the bowl for at least two hours.

Scrub the shoes off with either a toothbrush, sponge, or old toothbrush. (If you use a metal scrubbing tool, be sure to rinse it in water before using it on the shoes.)

Rinse the shoes off with warm water.

Use a hair dryer to remove the last bit of sticky paint.

Dip a clean cloth in polish remover, and rub the shoes to remove any residue.

Apply Nail Polish Remover

Here is the easiest way to get paint off of shoes, and one that I have used countless times to remove paint from my kids’ art projects:

Pour nail polish remover onto a paper towel or clean rag and then squeeze or roll the area of the shoe where the paint is. This will usually immediately loosen the paint! As the nail polish remover dries, the paint will flake off and transfer to the paper towel. You will need to repeat this process until the paint is no longer visible on the skin of the shoe.

This is my favorite trick for painting because it doesn’t require me to use around any harsh chemicals.

Run the Shoes Through the Washer

Most people make the mistake of trying to paint over shoes, not realizing that paint is pigmented and it will seep into the material.

Feel free to try this method on shoes that are brand new or perhaps those that are recycled goods. It will get the paint off the surface but the paint will settle into the material and you will have to deal with it sooner or later.

Take the shoe off and run it through the washer.

You may not be able to get it off completely, but at least you will have it two different shades of brown, or whatever it used to be colored.

If it is a shoe or a pair of boots that you wear often, throw it in a plastic tub of acetone and let it sit for a few days.

After a few days, the paint should be dry and will easily brush off with a thin filer. You may have to run the paint through the washer several times to get it off completely.

I am not endorsing this process because of the fumes, but it has worked for me in the past.

Bleach the Paint Away

It can be very frustrating to discover paint on your shoes after working hard to prepare for a look-good day. But don’t despair, you have options.

As an artist, I’ve been in that situation many times and I’ve learned that you need to stop trying to remove the paint from the shoe in mid-application, or you will end up with wrecked shoes.

Instead, cover your shoes with something that is disposable, like a paper towel or business card.

Then quickly blot with a cloth soaked in a solution of one part soap and three parts water.

Follow that with an alcohol-based paint thinner. Let it sit for about five minutes and blot again. Wipe clean.

Discard the disposable paper towel or you’ll have paint on your hands and wherever you take it.

If you don’t have any paint thinner, you should still be able to remove the paint with soap and water, but you will need to wait longer and possibly repeatedly soak and dry your shoe.

How to Get Paint Off Leather

Step 1: Make a paste.

Mix a small amount of liquid soap to a flake of cornstarch and stir well. With this paste, rub the residual paint off your leather shoes.

Step 2: Wash the shoes thoroughly.

Make sure that all the remaining paint has been removed.

Step 3: Prevent paint from sticking to your shoes again.

After the shoes are dry, rub a thin layer of wax over leather surface. It should cover the spot where the paint was applied.

This will ensure that no paint sticks to the leather again.

Use Oil

The most obvious stuff you can grab to get paint off shoes at home is a big blob of oil.

Oil is a great way to get paint off shoes. Almost of the shoe paint or other paint stains will be gone with one dunk. You can use cooking oil, oil you have in a garage or some other oil that you may already have.

If the area you got paint on your shoes is small, just use some oil in a paper towel or just oil on the stained area. Then grab a paper towel.

Rub it hard on the shoe to get rid of the paint. Use a q tip or a paint brush dipped in oil to clean the area with the paint left on the sides.

Rinse the shoe off to get rid of any of the oil left on.

Soap and Water

If the paint is still wet, grab a few paper towels to dab the paint spots. Blot, don’t rub. The friction can cause the paint to spread through the fabric or leather of your shoes.

After the paint has dried on the shoes, you will need to scrub. Scrubbing the dried paint is more difficult and requires some work.

The best way to scrub dried paint from your shoes is to use a stiff brush or a bristle brush. The stiff bristles will scrape the dried paint off your shoes.

Use a gentle soap and water along with the brush to scrub.

Take your time to effectively scrub the paint off your shoes once you have removed the surface layer.

Use salt to remove the rest of paint from the shoes. This should be done along with the brush and soap and water.

The Vaseline Method

If you are dealing with acrylic paint, try scraping off the paint with a dull knife. The blade will be able to pull paint from a fairly large depth, even if the layer is dry.

If the paint has dried, you can soften it with some warm water. To remove it, pour some warm water over the spot of paint.

Now you need to get some petroleum jelly or any other oily substance and rub it over the painted area. Rub it over the area bit by bit.

It takes a bit of scrubbing to wipe away paint. To make it easier, you can apply some pressure to the area where you are about to wipe the paint.

If you get it right, you should be able to scrub the paint off with little effort. Keep applying more water and petroleum jelly solution if needed.

If you are dealing with water-based paint, you can use the same method but with different ingredients. For aquarium-safe paint, use aquarium-safe plastic bags or water with a bit of vinegar. The paint should come off easily after this.

For latex paint, use plastic bags or paper towels.

Tips for Getting Paint Off Shoes

Paint is everywhere. People love to graffiti so you can’t really avoid walking on the sidewalk if you are in a city. And if you like to paint, or you need to paint, you’re bound to get some paint on your shoes.

Being prepared with some paint remover is helpful. Keep a small spray bottle in your garage and take care of the problem as soon as you remove your shoes. If you let the paint dry, it can become an absolute disaster.

If the paint is still wet, grab a sponge or a soft rag and some cold water. Pour some cold water over the paint and let the shoes sit for about five minutes.

If the paint dries on the shoes, you have to scrub it with some warm water using a rough sponge. Remove any excess paint with a cloth and then wash the shoes in the washing machine using a gentle setting.

To add a little twist to the game, spray some WD-40 on the paint stains. Let it sit for a minute and then wash it off with the washing machine.

If WD-40 works on shoes, I have no doubt that it can be used on anything.

But the most important step in this process is removing the paint as soon as possible after you step on it. This is especially true if you step on a fresh bottle of paint and the paint is still wet.

Moisten Paint As Much As Possible

First, you need to get the paint off the rubber. It will be a lot easier for you if the paint is wet and soft.

Not all types of paint can be easily removed, especially if it is cured and hardened. I’ve had some very frustrating experiences with cured paint. That’s why I recommend that you use water-based paint. It’s the easiest kind to get off and is the most common.

It is also easier to get off on a wet surface, so make sure that you do it as soon as possible.

If you want to, you can dampen the shoe with plain water. Do not use soap, because soap residue will make the paint even harder to remove.

You can also take advantage of the fact that paint is water-soluble.

If you brush the surface with a paintbrush that is soaked in water, you will add water to the paint and make it much easier for you to remove.

I do recommend that you use something else for this and not your nice paintbrush. Don’t worry, you’ll clean it later.

Go Slow

The first thing you can do to prevent paint splatter on your feet is to be smart. Take your time and take it slow.

You will have more control and that will help you avoid making mistakes. You’re less likely to splatter paint if you work more slowly.

You should also grab the can at a more narrow angle. This will allow you to have more control over the amount of paint that gets on the surface.

Another good way to make your job easier is to use a painter’s apron or a small tarp to temporarily shield you from splatter. If you ever need to store/move your paint can you can easily grab it at a more narrow angle.

You can also wear plastic gloves to protect your hands. This will prevent you from making a mess on your hands when you handle the paint can. Just slide on some plastic gloves and start painting.