How to Remove Shoe Polish With Rubbing Alcohol

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How to Remove Shoe Polish With Rubbing Alcohol
Image Credit: Sergei Chuyko/iStock/GettyImages

Things You'll Need

  • Isopropyl rubbing alcohol

  • 3 clean rags

  • Powdered laundry detergent

Rubbing alcohol is an effective cleaner of shoe polish stains.

If you've managed to spill shoe polish where it doesn't belong, for example on your clothing, couch or rug, you may find it difficult to clean. While the staining properties of shoe polish are necessary for polishing shoes, they are exactly what makes it difficult to clean out of fabrics. However, a little rubbing alcohol can help you with removing shoe polish stains fairly easily.


Step 1: Test the Stained Item for Colorfastness

Test your stained item for colorfastness by placing a few drops of rubbing alcohol in a hidden or inconspicuous area. Rubbing alcohol usually does not remove dyes from fabrics, or otherwise harm them, but it's best to be certain before proceeding.

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Step 2: Pour Alcohol Onto a Rag

Pour a small amount or alcohol onto a clean rag. If your shoe-polish-stained item is light in color, it is best to use a white rag, as a darker rag may transfer some color onto your item, making the stain worse. Likewise, if your stained item is a dark color it is best to use a dark rag, as blotting and rubbing with a light-colored rag may deposit light-colored "pills" onto your item.


Step 3: Apply the Alcohol to the Stain

Press the alcohol-saturated portion of your rag onto the shoe polish stain. The alcohol will begin to break up the shoe polish and lift the stain off the fabric. If possible, turn the stained item over and blot from both sides. Once the alcohol-saturated portion of your rag becomes soiled from the shoe polish, move to a clean spot on the rag and begin again. Continue in this fashion until all shoe polish has been removed.


Step 4: Cleaning Washable Items

For items that can easily be laundered, mix a small amount of laundry powder with some water to make a paste. Spread the paste over the shoe-polish stain and let it sit for about 15 minutes. This will help remove any traces of shoe polish the alcohol has left behind.

Step 5: Considerations for Rugs and Furniture

If you are cleaning shoe polish from a rug or upholstered furniture, or some other item that cannot be laundered easily, and you are satisfied that the stain has been completely removed, you may choose to skip this step. Instead of applying the laundry powder paste, simply rinse any remaining alcohol from the area with water and let it dry. This is your last step for removing shoe polish in this case.


Step 6: Launder the Item

Launder the item that has paste applied. There is no need to rinse the paste off before laundering. Before putting your item in the dryer, make certain that the stain has been entirely removed, as heat-drying "sets" stains and makes them even more difficult to remove.

Step 7: Removing Shoe Polish From Non-washable Items

If you are removing shoe polish from an item that can't be laundered such as a rug or upholstered furniture, and you applied laundry powder paste to the stain, wet the third clean rag with water and use it to wipe up the laundry powder paste. Rinse well with water and let dry.



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