How to Remove Shoe Polish from Shoes

To keep shoes sparkly clean, there is really no greater alternative to the shoe polish.

But sometimes even this simple act of shinning your shoes can become a troublesome project if you apply the wrong colored polish or overlap the polish coat thus generating smudge stains.

But worry no more, for I am about to tell you the most effective techniques to remedy these situations in no time.

The Basics

There are a number of ways you can try and remove that objectionable polish from your beloved pairs of shoes.

But before moving on to know the techniques, here are some of the important points that you need to pay special attention to:

  1. Before starting to remove the polish, be sure to remove the laces or other detachable accessories on the shoe. This will help you to work the surface easily and also minimize the risk of causing discoloration or damages to the lace.
  2. When using cotton pads or cloth to remove polish, always make sure that your hands are working in a steady circular motion. The circular motion allows a more thorough clean-up contrary to the zig-zag movement that may result in polish overlap once again.
  3. After successfully removing the old polish, be sure to apply a new layer of polish or shoe conditioner. This will help you to restore the shoes to their glorious pristine conditions.

The Methods You Can Apply

Now that you know the very basics, let’s get down to the real business!

  1. Saddle Soap

Saddle soap is perhaps the most popular form of polish removal techniques. Easy to use and found abundantly in all supermarkets to buy, it is a soap specifically manufactured to get the polish and dust out of your shoes.


Step 1: Take a cotton pad or soft cloth and dampen it with water (preferably lukewarm).

Step 2: Gently rub the wet cloth over the shoe’s surface to soften it up.

Step 3: Take another damp cloth and wipe it over the saddle soap to create lather.

Step 4: Then spread the lather in a circular motion over small surfaces of the shoe at a time, until you have covered the entire area.

Step 5: Use the previous cloth to remove the lather.

Step 6: You will see that the polish will come right off the shoes onto the cloth.

Step 7: Allow some time for the shoe to dry before applying new polish.


Do not leave the soap lather to sit for a long time as it will dry up your shoe leather.

  1. Saphir Reno’Mat

Saphir’s Reno’mat over the years has proven to be the most effective cleaning solution for shoes. Effective at not only removing old polishes and stubborn dirt stains, but this cleaning agent is also ideal for all types of material including leather, synthetics, wax, silicon, resins, etc.


Step 1: Use a cloth to wipe your shoes to remove primary dirt build-ups.

Step 2: Carefully apply Reno’mat solution on the shoe surface with a brush / soft cloth (in a circular motion).

Step 3: Use another cloth to remove the Reno’mat deposit, and you will see the polish to come right off.

Step 4: Allow 10-15 minutes time before re-polishing the shoe.


As Reno’mat is a chemical agent, thereby it is wise to test in on a small surface beforehand to avoid mishaps.

  1. The Heat Technique

The theory here is that the shoe polishes are mainly wax-build up. Therefore, one can simply “melt it” using a convenient heat source and then just wipe away the layer.


Step 1: Position your shoe closer to a heat source (e.g., heat lamp, heat gun, or even under the sun).

Step 2: Depending upon the intensity of the heat source, leave the polish to melt off for a certain time period.

Step 3: Once you are sure that the polish has melted or liquefied, use a dry clean cloth to completely rub it off the shoe.

Step 4: Allow some time to dry the shoe before re-polishing.


You have to be very careful in undertaking this method as it runs the risk of starting a fire or damaging the shoes.

  1. Alcohol & Acetone

As most of these items are readily available at home, therefore this is a method used across households globally.


Step 1: Take a clean cloth/cotton pad and infuse it with rubbing alcohol/acetone (e.g., nail polish remover).

Step 2: Gently rub it on small sections of the shoe using a circular motion.

Step 3: Next, you can either allow the alcohol/acetone to sit for some time to naturally dissolve the polish or you can manually keep on removing it.

Step 4: Finally, use a separate piece of cloth to dry off the shoe.


You must apply a layer of good quality leather conditioner to the shoes before re-polishing them as acetone/alcohol is known to dry out leathers.


Using any one of these techniques, you can easily remove the shoe polish.

Just follow these instructions and see how your shoe gets as good as new in the blink of an eye.

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