How to Remove Shoe Polish from Leather Shoes – 5 Methods

A pair of leather shoes seems to be an indispensable accessory in this modern world. It brings us extra comfort and protection throughout our entire shift at work while allowing us to maintain a professional working attitude.

If you are a leather shoe lover, you must have known that polish can keep your leather shoes shiny and fantastic. But what if you use the wrong color polish? Or what if the old polishes make your shoes look dirty and outmoded?

No worries. Every problem has its solution, and in this article, you will find the holistic ways to address your question: how to remove shoe polish from leather shoes?

In this article, we will show you five different methods to remove shoe polish: using nail polish remover or alcohol, lighter fluid, heat sources, saddle soap, and Saphir Reno Mat. Read on for more!


You will need the following materials:

  • Using nail polish remover or alcohol
  • Lighter fluid
  • Heat sources
  • Saddle Soap
  • Professional polish remover Saphir Reno Mat.

Top Tip: There will be distinct steps and equipment required in each method. But remember to remove shoelaces before starting any process.

Due to the long-lasting smell and flammability, shoelaces can interfere while you are applying any cleaning product. When you use lighter fluid or soap, in particular, forgetting shoelaces will lead to a traumatic scenario with fires.

Removing shoe polish with rubbing alcohol or acetone

Acetone or alcohol seems like the most common way to remove old or excess polish from your leather shoes. However, because they might have a bad effect on leather, you should always follow up with a liberal layer of leather conditioner.


  • Cotton pads or a clean cloth
  • Acetone or rubbing alcohol
  • Leather conditioner
  • Gloves

Detailed Instruction:

  • Step 1: Soak a cotton pad or a soft cloth in alcohol:

Make sure that you have applied an adequate amount of fluid to wet the cloth.

Top Tip: Avoid applying too much acetone or alcohol, otherwise it will be dangerous because of flammability.

  • Step 2: Lather up your shoes:

The most suitable way is to use circular motions to wipe this product slowly on your shoes. Cover all surfaces.

  • Step 3: Wait for a few minutes:

Yes, you can continue wiping your shoes. But we suggest you let it rest for a while. Alcohol or acetone will continue to loosen the shoe polish. Then, you can stroke it without hurting the leather.

  • Step 4: Dry with another clean cloth:

Using another clean cloth, wipe away all the old polish. Now, lather up a leather conditioner. Continue to use small circular motions. Make sure the entire surface is coated with an extra layer.

Top Tip: Without a doubt, a high-quality leather conditioner protects your shoes the best in this case. You can have a look at some famous brands, such as Bickmore, Leather Honey, or Chamberlain.

So, there you have it; a method for removing shoe polish with rubbing alcohol!

Removing Shoe Polish from Leather Using Lighter Fluid

It sounds insane and impossible. But trust me, this way of removing shoe polish from leather using lighter fluid works. Lighter fluid is a flammable liquid used in many lighters, especially cigarette lighters. Be careful when you use this method to remove excess polish because lighter fluid can easily catch fire.


  • Cotton ball or a soft cloth
  • Lighter fluid
  • Leather conditioner
  • Gloves

Detailed Instruction:

  • Step 1: Dampen a rag or cotton pad with a tiny amount of lighter fluid.
  • Step 2: Once you have a dampened cloth, rub it in a circular motion along the leather.
  • Step 3: The leather will come off onto your soft cloth, but this process may take a while. We recommend you to use a variety of clothes or cotton pads to remove the whole old polish.
  • Step 4: When you see that all the polish are off, apply an adequate layer of leather conditioner as the previous method.

The Heat Source Can Also be an Excellent Alternative

As you know, leather shoes are mostly covered by wax polish. So, many people use a heat source to melt the old polish and then effortlessly wipe it away.

The methods can have slight differences based on your choice of heat source. But you must achieve the key point: Warm up the polish so you can wipe it away.


  • A hair dryer/heat gun/heat lamp/the sun
  • A brush

Detailed Instruction:

  • Step 1: Melt the polish:

Maintain a safe distance between the heat source and your shoe. A heat gun or a hair dryer can cause unimaginable heat, and thus, burn more than just the polish if placed too close.

Top Tip: A circular motion is the best way to get the entire surface heated. This process may take a few hours if you choose the sun as your heat source.

  • Step 2: Let it work:

All you have to do now is wait. While the heat gun approach only takes a few seconds, leave your leather shoe for over 15 minutes if you are going with the heat lamp approach.

Top Tip: If you feel stickiness when you tap one finger on it, then the old polish is ready to be wiped away.

  • Step 3: Gently rub it away:

Now, your leather is covered by liquid polish, which means you can use a brush and wipe it off with ease.

  • Step 4: Let it cool down:

To not ruin your leather, please carefully set it aside and let it dry. After this process, you can apply an extra layer of leather conditioner or you can re-polish it.

How to Remove Shoe Polish from Leather Shoes: A Most Popular Way – Saddle Soap

It is a special compound to clean, condition, and protect leather. It has served the purpose of a stain remover for a long time.

Saddle soap is a useful and accessible product. You can find it in all shops and online brands. Among these, we suggest you try Otterwax, Fiebing’s, and Kiwi. Its price can range from $5 to $20.


  • Saddle soap
  • Water
  • Clothes

Detailed Instruction:

  • Step 1: Soak your cloth in water:

Dampen a cloth with water.

Top Tip: Use lukewarm water instead of cold water because the temperature can affect your leather.

  • Step 2: Shoe moistening:

Once you have a damp cloth to agitate the wax and remove dirt, please rub your shoe. Remember to keep your cloth moist, or you will reduce the effectiveness of this method.

Top Tip: Make use of every part of your rag.

  • Step 3: Create a lather:

Apply the saddle soap to another wet cloth. Lather this dry cleaning solvent up your shoe. Gently rub every part of your shoe, even the tiniest.

  • Step 4: Wipe the soap away:

To finish the process, remember to wipe away all the soap with another clean cloth. Forgotten soap can damage your leather.

  • Step 5: Leave it rest

As with other methods, your leather shoes need a while to dry. After this process, you can re-polish it or apply a thin layer of leather conditioner to it.

Professional Help: Saphir Reno’ Mat

All the polish should be afraid of Saphir Reno’Mat, as it is the most professional product for cleaning and removing polish. A variety of materials can apply to this product, including wax, silicone, and doubtlessly, leather.


  • Saphir Reno’Mat
  • An old towel
  • A brush

Detailed Instruction:

  • Step 1: Clean your shoes:

Before removing shoe polish, clean it using a brush. You want to get rid of any dirt and debris.

Top Tip: No water should be applied in this step. To reach its maximum effectiveness, you should provide Reno a surface with no water.

  • Step 2: Let Saphir Reno’Mat do its work:

Create a lather of Reno’Mat on your shoe. Now, grab another brush to spread the product throughout the material in circular motions.

Top Tip: Mix the ingredients carefully by shaking its bottle before applying. Then, test it first in a tiny and unnoticeable area. Like a chemical reaction, this product can discolor your shoe, especially with brown ones.

  • Step 3: Wipe the polish away:

Wait for 15 minutes and then remove any excess amount of Reno.

  • Step 4: Dry your shoe:

Like all the previous methods, this approach requires a drying process. After this, re-polishing is recommended.


How to remove shoe polish from leather shoes is a tough question. But here, you have found five different ways to solve your problem. If you have more questions or feedback, please leave it in the comment section. Like and share if this article is useful and informative for you.

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