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How to Remove Shoe Polish From Boots

Updated March 23, 2017

There's no need to be stuck with shoe polish stains on your boots. Perhaps you want to fix up your last shoe polish job or remove an old layer of shoe polish to reapply with a fresh layer. Nevertheless, there is a simple, inexpensive way to remove this shoe polish at home without ruining your boots. Your shoes can be clean and shiny yet again. Ideally, these methods apply to both leather and non-leather boots.

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  1. Place paper towels around an area with running water such as the kitchen or bathroom.

  2. Use a moist paper towel to remove excess dirt and grime from the boots. Removing dirt beforehand helps to cleanly remove shoe polish later on.

  3. Wet the shoe brush, sponge or cloth with warm water and add some saddle soap to it. Apply all over the boots, scrubbing gently. Saddle soap is often used to condition and clean leather products, but it is also beneficial in removing old shoe polish from shoes.

  4. Use dish detergent or dish soap instead of the saddle soap if you prefer. Dish detergent works well in removing greasy stains; therefore, it is often used to remove shoe polish as well.

  5. Shake off excess water from the boots and rub dry using paper towels. Let them dry.

  6. Apply rubbing alcohol or acetone to a moist cloth or paper towel and rub all over the boots to remove shoe polish. This can be used with or instead of the saddle soap. Test an area first before using the rubbing alcohol, to avoid potentially ruining your boots.

  7. Polish boots dry using a cloth or paper towel.

  8. Carefully apply a fresh layer of shoe polish to the boots once they are dry. Let them dry completely with the shoe polish before wearing or storing them.

  9. Tip

    Always test an area first before using products such as saddle soap, acetone or rubbing alcohol on your shoes. These substances may damage the material and cause discolouration or fading. If this occurs, stick to liquid soap or dish detergent.


    To prevent scratches or fading on boots, avoid rubbing too hard with a shoe brush.

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Things You'll Need

  • Saddle soap
  • Dish detergent or soap
  • Shoe brush, sponge or cloth
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • Acetone
  • Shoe polish
  • Paper towels

About the Author

Aleksandra Ozimek

Aleksandra Ozimek has been writing professionally since 2007 for a fashion blog, various online media and the "Queens Courier," in addition to interning at "Cosmopolitan" magazine. She completed her Bachelor of Science in journalism and photography from St. John's University, where she is completing her master's degree.

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