How to Remove Leather Shoe Dye With Acetone

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To paint or re-dye your shoes, remove the old coating with acetone.
To paint or re-dye your shoes, remove the old coating with acetone. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

You need to remove leather shoe dye if you plan on re-dying or painting your leather shoes.
You can use a deglazer that contains acetone or you can use pure acetone. Acetone is harmful to breathe and will eat at the leather if not applied properly, but it is an effective product for removing leather dye from shoes.

Things You'll Need

  • Latex or rubber gloves
  • Mask
  • Old cloth
  • Acetone
  • Fine steel wool
  • Q-tips

Open the windows and wear chemical-proof gloves and a mask.

Clean the shoes and let them dry or wipe them with a cloth.

Pour a small amount of acetone onto steel wool and gently scrub your shoes.

Use an old rag to remove the dye and use Q-tips to scrub in stitched or tight areas.

Keep cleaning until no more dye appears on the cleaning rag. Let the shoes to dry for 24 hours.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use a leather conditioner after using acetone as the acetone can dry out the leather.
  • Acetone is flammable, volatile, poisonous, and bad for the environment. Use rubber gloves and a mask and use acetone in the open air or in a well-ventilated area to avoid inhaling the fumes. Use acetone away from flames.
  • Close the bottle of acetone each time you use it because acetone it is very volatile.
  • Do not put too much acetone on the steel wool and wipe all excess with a rag. Wet spots of acetone left on the shoes will eat at the leather.

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