How To Remove Paint From Shoes (Upper & Midsole)


Today, I’ll be showing you guys how to remove paint from shoes. 

How To Remove Paint From Shoes

How To Remove Paint From The Upper


You need cotton balls and Angelus Leather Preparer and Deglazer. Shake up the bottle, put a little bit of the product on the cotton ball, and wipe off the scuff in one direction.

How To Remove Paint From The Midsole

Nail Polish Remover

You’re going to need nail polish remover, cotton balls, Q-tips, some sort of sharp object, and tape.

Start off by taping off the midsole. Take the nail polish remover and cotton balls and start rubbing on the surface.

For this, you’re going to be using a loom hook or an x-Acto knife to rub off the paint.

Take a Q-tip and go along the harder-to-reach areas and make sure to really get in there and you’re good to go.

For the next method, we’re going to be using some sort of spray to get rid of the paint…

Goo Gone


You’re going to go ahead and tape off the midsole of your shoe. Take your Goo Gone and spray on the upper of the shoe.

Use your Q-tip to spread that around. You can also use the loom hook to go ahead and scrape off all the excess paint.

Let it dry for five minutes and you’re good to go.

Formby’s Paint & Poly Remover

Formby’s-Paint &-Poly-Remover

You’re going to need:

  • Formby’s paint and poly remover.
  • 3M scotch pads.
  • Masking tape.
  • A paintbrush.

First, start by masking off the upper to ensure the paint does not run onto the upper. So, definitely take your time doing this important step.

You also need to tape the Air unit (if your shoes have one) and make sure nothing touches it.

Try to avoid long tape strips and use only short strips because they’re easier to manipulate.

To apply the sauce, all you need to do is use a paintbrush. Dab a little bit of the secret magical unicorn serum on there and then watch it do its magic. It’s going to sit on there for about 20 seconds and you’ll start to see the paint bubble and shrivel.

Then, you can use a sharp object and make sure you don’t dig into the midsole. You can definitely use the scotch pad for the whole job in case you don’t have something sharp.

With the scotch pad, you’re eliminating the chance of ruining your midsoles with a sharp object. It takes about two coats of Farmby’s to get away all of the little residue.

You just continue with your 3M sponge until you have nice smooth midsoles, which you will need for your next paint project.

Klean Strip


For this you’re going to need:

  • Klean Strip.
  • Nail Polish remover or acetone.
  • A scraper.
  • Scotch-brite pads.
  • Tape.
  • Cotton balls.
  • A paintbrush.
  • Latex gloves.

Step one:

Tape around the shoe to protect the upper from the stripper paste.

Take a cotton ball, dip it into some water, rip it up into tiny pieces, and stick it into the Air bubble to protect it.

Put on your gloves and shake the stripper bottle. Dip the paintbrush into the stripper and dab it on the midsole. You’ll start to see most of the paint coming off easily.

Take your scraper and scrape off the top layer. Just make sure you don’t push too hard into the midsole to not damage it in any way.

At this point, about 90% of the paint is taken off. Now, you’re going to go ahead and get the leftover paint that the scraper couldn’t take off.

Step two:

Take the scotch-brite pad, cut off a small piece to give you more corners so that you have different angles to work it.

Dab more stripper onto the midsole, take the scotch-brite pad, and scrape the midsole in one direction. You’re going to apply a little bit of pressure just enough to take off the paint.

Step three:

For the areas connecting the midsole to the upper, you’re going to some acetone and a cotton ball to take the rest of the paint off.



You’re going to need:

  • Polystripper that you can find in Home Depot.
  • A small file. 
  • A paint scraper
  • Tape.
  • A little brush.
  • Gloves.

Put on your gloves and mask tape the upper using small pieces of tape to get better results. Spread the product on the midsole and just let sit for about 15 to 20 seconds.

The good news is Polystripper is not harsh on midsole material.

Take the paint scraper and just watch it take the paint off the midsole easily and completely. Use the file to reach hard-to-reach areas.

Finally, take a cotton ball and just dab a little bit of acetone. Just do a quick rundown to remove any excess paint you may have missed.

Bonus Technique

How To Remove Paint Without Acetone or Nail Polish Remover


In this section, I’m going to show you how to strip the midsole without using any acetone or nail polish remover.

There have been people in the past that have used acetone a little bit too much and have actually deteriorated the midsole.

So, if you’re not sure how to use acetone, then this easy method is right for you.

Go over to a sink or anywhere that you could get hot water. Turn on the hot water and start wetting the midsole. The hot water is going to make the paint a little bit brittle and it’ll be easier to peel off.

Some people use their nails, but I would recommend using something sharp and start peeling the paint.

When the midsole starts to get cold and hard again, just wet it with more hot water and you’re good to go.

Acetone Vs. Nail Polish Remover

So, there you have it. This is how to remove paint from shoes. I’m going to be really happy if you’ve learned something new today.

And if you have any trick under your sleeves that you use to remove paint off of your shoes, please let us know down in the comments section below.

About Eric Barber

Eric Barber is a happy father of two little angels, a husband, and a runner. He eats, sleeps, and dreams anything foot related: running shoes, walking shoes, sneakers, you name it. It all started when Eric was a shoe store specialist watching and fitting people's feet day in and day out.

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