Shoe polish and black smudge on carpet

How to Get Shoe Polish Out of Carpet

If you’ve recently polished your shoes, wearing them too soon afterwards can lead to smudges and stains on your carpet.

Shoe polish can be a bit challenging to get out of any material considering it’s designed to stain!

Luckily, there are a few options to try. Read on to find out how to get shoe polish out of carpet.


Considerations Before Trying to Remove Shoe Polish Stains

There are two main things to consider before trying to work on a shoe polish stain. Of course, it helps to know these things in advance so you don’t have to waste too much time when it comes to actually removing the stain.

What is your carpet made from?

The first thing to consider is what material your carpet is made from. The specifics don’t matter too much, you just need to know whether it’s natural or synthetic fibres.

Natural fibres are more absorbent and less resilient to bleach, meaning the stain get soak in deeper and be more difficult to get out.

Synthetic fibres, on the other hand, are generally less absorbent but might not be able to withstand some cleaning products.


What sort of shoe polish is it?

The other thing to think about is the composition of shoe polish. Pretty much any polish is made from dye and some kind of wax.

Tinned polishes are usually easier to lift out of carpets because they’re more solid than squeezy polishes.

 This matters because:

  • Wax is best dealt with under cold temperatures, if possible, as it prevents it from melting into the fabric
  • Dyes are meant to colour things, so you’ll want to work quickly to lift the polish before it has change to set

cleaning carpet with commercial cleaner


How to Get Shoe Polish Out of Carpet

1. Scrape up solid polish

The first step is to scrape up any solid polish if you can. Do this with a butter knife or spoon.

You’ll want to use a scraping motion that doesn’t apply much pressure to the carpet, as you want to avoid pushing the polish deeper into the carpet.

Basically, try to flick the solid polish out of the carpet rather than rubbing it deeper.


2. Ammonia and washing up liquid solution

If you’ve got some, use ammonia and washing up liquid mixed into warm water.

The ratio should be 1 tablespoon of ammonia, 1 tablespoon of washing up liquid, and around 100 ml of water.

Blot it onto the stain using a clean cloth and keep going until you get the results you want.

Then, flush the area with clean cool water and blot with a dry cloth to lift as much excess water as possible.

Bear in mind, this’ll work better on liquid shoe polish than the solid tinned kind. There’s less wax in liquid polish, and this method focuses mainly on the stain’s colour.


3. Rubbing alcohol

clean carpet with rubbing alcohol

Rubbing alcohol is quite effective at breaking down wax because it’s a mild solvent. Simply blot some onto the polish stain using a cloth. Moisten the area and leave it to sit for 10 minutes or so.

You can then try scrubbing it with a toothbrush to loosen the stain. After that, blot it with cool water to lift the remaining residue.


4. Acetone

Much like rubbing alcohol, you can use acetone (nail polish remover) to break down the components of shoe polish.

Ideally, you should use 100% acetone, for example Mylee Pure Acetone. Nail polish remover will work, but pure acetone doesn’t have any added colourants.

You can use the same method as above. Blot the stain with acetone and allow it to sit on the stain for a while to break it down.


5. Dry cleaning solvent

Dry cleaning solvent is probably considered the nuclear option, but it should work on even dried-in stubborn stains.

Dry-cleaning products, such as this Upholstery Solvent from World of Clean, work on oily stains and sensitive fabrics, both of which apply here.

Bear in mind that you need to take extra care when working with dry cleaning solvents, as they can often be smelly.

Make sure you wear protective equipment (gloves, goggles, etc.) when using it just to be on the safe side.

The method should be simple enough: follow the instructions on the bottle. Usually, it’s a case of pour some on, work it in, and then allow it to try.

It might take a few applications due to the high dye content of shoe polish, but you should get some good results if you stick with it.


Final Thoughts

Removing shoe polish from carpet can be a bit tricky because it contains both dye and wax. However, at least one of the solutions above should be suitable for shifting that stubborn stain.

If you’re still having problems, though, consider calling a professional carpet cleaner. They should be able to blitz a shoe polish stain on a carpet without much difficulty.