How to Get Shoe Polish out of Clothes

Updated February 21, 2017

Shoe polish is applied to dull or dingy shoes and sneakers to give them a clean, new appearance. Liquid shoe polish is messy and can often be spilt or splattered on articles of clothing. Because shoe polish contains dyes and other chemicals, it's important to remove shoe polish stains from clothing as soon as possible. Allowing shoe polish stains to set in clothing makes stains difficult or impossible to remove. Using common household products on shoe polish stains can keep your clothing from being permanently damaged.

Blot the shoe polish stain with a clean, absorbent white paper towel to remove all excess polish from your clothing. Avoid rubbing the stain with the paper towel.

Mix about 88.7ml. of rubbing alcohol and 170gr. of cold water in a bowl.

Wet a clean white cloth with the alcohol/water mixture.

Blot both sides of the clothing with the cloth until the shoe polish stain starts to fade.

Mix about 3 tbsp of powder washing powder and 2 tbsp of cold water in a bowl to form a paste.

Apply a generous amount of the detergent paste to the stain on both sides of the clothing.

Allow the detergent paste to penetrate the stain for 15 minutes.

Wash your clothing as you normally would to completely remove the shoe polish stain.

Inspect the clothing once you remove it from the washer. If the stain is gone, dry your clothing as you normally would. If the stain is still there, repeat steps 2 through 8.


Do not dry the clothing until the stain is completely removed. Doing so will make the stain impossible to remove. This cleaning method should never be used on silk, wool or dry-clean only clothing.

Things You'll Need

  • White paper towels
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Cold water
  • 2 bowls
  • White cloth
  • Powder washing powder
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About the Author

Sarai Jeremiah is a freelance writer and graphic designer living on the East Coast, where she is currently pursuing an education in both fields. She has been writing articles and content on a variety of topics since 2006 and has contributed articles to Web sites such as Spark People.