How to Remove Black Shoe Polish

Black shoe polish may be just the thing to shine up those dress shoes, but it's not so great when it gets on your clothing, in the carpet or on other surfaces around the home. The ideal cleanup method depends upon where the stain sits, but in any case, treat it as soon as possible to prevent an even bigger mess.

Shoe polish with brush, cloth and worn boots on platform
credit: ThamKC/iStock/GettyImages
How to Remove Black Shoe Polish

Carpet Cleanup

To remove black shoe polish from a carpet or rug, blot a liquid-based spot with a white lint-free cloth. If the polish is a paste, scrape as much of it away by using the bowl of a plastic spoon or the edge of a plastic knife, scraping upwards. Put the scraped-up residue on a paper towel or rag, being careful so the polish doesn't end up back on the carpet.

Blot the black spot with rubbing alcohol applied to a white lint-free cloth. Don't rub the spot or it could spread. Keep blotting with a fresh area of the cloth until no more polish transfers onto it.

If any stain remains, mix a few drops of a non-bleach laundry detergent designed for handwashing into a cup of lukewarm water. Pour about a teaspoon of the liquid onto the spot, then blot with a fresh white cloth or paper towel. Continue blotting with a clean area of the cloth or paper until no more polish comes up. Spritz tap water onto the spot and blot it up to remove any soap residue.

Clean That Clothing Spot

Remove a paste-based stain by first scraping as much as possible off the material with the edge of a plastic knife or spoon, scraping from the outer edge of the spot toward the inside to avoid spreading polish. For a liquid spot, hold it in a stream of cold tap water until the water runs clear. Mix 3 tablespoons baking soda into a gallon of cold water in a washtub. Soak the garment for 30 minutes, then wash it in a load of laundry following the care tag on the clothing. If the item still has a stain on it, wash it again, then dry according to the care tag's recommendations.

Hard Surfaces

Remove shoe-polish spots from durable hard surfaces such as countertops or laminate floors by blotting up liquid or scraping wax with the edge of a plastic spoon. Once you've removed as much of the polish as possible, rub the area with a large eraser or a melamine-foam eraser designed for removing scuffs. A nylon scrub pad, such as the type used to scrub pots and pans, also comes in handy. If these dry methods don't completely remove the spot, apply a cleaner designed for the surface onto a white cloth. Rub the spot, then rinse the residue away by wiping the surface with a damp white cloth. Never use a dyed cloth, as the dye may transfer onto the surface.