A man tying the shoelaces of his brown polished shoes.

How to Remove Shoe Polish From Clothes

Accidentally polished your clothes, as well as your shoes? You’re not the first or the last person to do that – one slip of the brush during a polishing frenzy and you’re facing a pretty dire-looking stain. There is good news, though: firstly, your shoes look fantastic. Secondly, there are ways to go about removing shoe polish stains from fabric. Here’s what you need to do.


How to remove shoe polish stains from clothes

Act as fast as you can: dried shoe polish is deliberately designed to be waterproof and give long-lasting colour. So the best thing you can do when removing shoe polish stains is tackle them while they’re fresh and least expecting it. Follow these steps:

  1. Remove excess shoe polish from the fabric. Use a spoon or a blunt knife, and try to lift the polish away from the material as much as possible rather than scraping or brushing it around – you don’t want to spread the stain.

    If the shoe polish is a liquid rather than a paste or a cream, blot it gently with some paper towels to absorb as much of the stain as possible from the fabric. 
  2. Treat the stain. When you’re thinking about how to remove shoe polish from clothes, you have a few options to choose from.

    Dishwashing liquid or salt and lemon juice are good pre-treaters for these stains, or (if you don’t fancy risking a homemade stain remover) you could go for a biological detergent like Persil bio liquid. Apply your chosen treatment and leave it for 40 minutes to an hour.

    Pro tip: Always check the labels on your clothes and on any products before starting to use a stain removal method, and test any new methods on an inconspicuous area of fabric. Go to a professional if the fabric is particularly delicate, or if you’re not quite sure whether it is or not.
  3. Wash as usual. Use Persil bio liquid and a colour-safe bleach (following safety guidelines on the pack) if you can. Wash at the highest temperature suggested on the garment tag. When the garment comes out of the wash, check for any remaining marks before letting it dry, and check again before you iron. If you see any stubborn stains, repeat the two steps above before washing again.


There you have it – how to get rid of shoe polish stains with as little hassle as possible, so your clothes look as good as new. 

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