How to remove shoe polish from the carpet

Keep your shoes, and your carpets, clean and stain-free with these tips on how to remove shoe polish from carpet, upholstery, and other furnishings.

Updated 17 August 2021


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time2 minutes

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If there’s one problem with using black polish to keep your shoes smart, it’s that it can make your carpets dirty!

If you’ve spotted a black mark somewhere in the house, you might be thinking of buying a brand new rug to cover it up. But there’s no need to spend your hard-earned money just yet – the good news is that, whilst it might take a bit of elbow grease, it is possible to remove shoe polish from carpet, upholstery, and other fabric.

  • Paper towels

  • Blunt knife or spoon

  • A bucket of water

  • Dish cloths

  • Washing up liquid

Try to prevent shoe polish from rubbing off by buffing it in as much as possible. To do this, you can use a special shoe brush, or even an old pair of tights – simply buff in the shoe polish until it is streak-free.

How to remove black shoe polish from carpet and upholstery

  • The trick with any stain is to treat it as soon as possible, and the same goes with any shoe polish stain on carpet, rugs and upholstery. The moment you see it, use a spoon or a blunt knife to scoop up the excess. The danger with black shoe polish is that it’s very easy to spread ­– so try to avoid pushing it further into the carpet fibres as you do this. If you don’t think there’s any polish above the surface of the carpet, use a paper towel to blot it instead.

  • Next, use a mixture of dishwashing detergent and water and dab the stain to dislodge it. Use an absorbent cloth to draw out as much of the shoe polish as possible. If you see the stain transferring onto the cloth, keep moving to a clean side. If you carry on using the dirty part of the cloth then the stain could be rubbed further into the carpet fibres.

  • If the aforementioned step fails to work, wait until the carpet is dry and use a non-acetone nail varnish remover in the same way. It is a gentle option, but surprisingly effective for removing stubborn stains.

  • Finally, if you’ve had no luck getting the stain to budge, try using ammonia. Make a mixture of soapy water using equal parts washing up liquid and ammonia, and blot the stain as before. It’s advisable to test on an inconspicuous part of the carpet first, and remember: never mix ammonia with bleach as the chemicals will be toxic!

With our advice on how to remove shoe polish from carpet, rugs and other upholstery, you can shine your shoes as much as you like – free from the worry of getting shoe polish on carpet and flooring.

Key Steps:

  1. 1

    Remove excess shoe polish with a spoon or paper towel.

  2. 2

    Use soapy water to blot the stain.

  3. 3

    Try nail polish remover or ammonia as an alternative.

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