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Shoe polish may be easily removed from your carpet or upholstery fabrics by following these simple carpet cleaning tips. However, if you do not want to do it yourself, you can always get a professional carpet cleaning service to do the job for you.

Basically, shoe polish usually comes in three different forms.

  1. A Liquid Type which is composed of water, dye pigments, wax, and alcohol or similar solvents.
  2. A Paste consisting of resins, waxes, oil soluble dyes, and solvents like petroleum or turpentine.
  3. A Wax Type which is similar in composition to the pastes.

Shoe polish stains vary widely in coloration, appearance and texture, but usually appear as a smudge or smear on the carpet surface or along the bottom skirting of upholstery.

Here is the recommended procedure for DIY carpet cleaning to remove any kind of shoe polish from your carpet:

Supplies Needed

  • Nail Polish remover or a volatile dry solvent like acetone or other dry cleaning solvents.
  • A non-volatile dry solvent like Goof-Off or Carbona.
  • A mild detergent solution. Mix one-fourth 1/4 teaspoon of dishwashing liquid to one cup of slightly warm water. (Do not use laundry detergents or automatic dishwashing detergents).
  • Dilute ammonia solution. One tablespoon ammonia to one cup of water.
  • Warm water
  • A spoon or spatula
  • White absorbent towels
  • Vacuum cleaner


As with all spots and stains, it is very important to clean it up quickly. If the stain is left on the carpet for a long time, it may become extremely difficult or impossible to remove.

Scrape off any of the material you can, with a spoon or spatula. Use a vacuum to suck up all semi-solids.

Pour a little of the first solution unto a white towel and blot gently. Avoid rubbing as this may cause the stain to spread. There should now be an apparent transfer of polish unto the towel. Move to a new area of the towel and repeat the process. Continue with this step until no more shoe polish stain comes off unto the towel. By this time, the stain should have disappeared. If not, repeat the process using the second (non-volatile solvent).

Next apply the dilute detergent solution and rinse thoroughly with warm water.

If the stain is not gone completely after this, blot with a dilute ammonia solution and then rinse thoroughly.

Be patient, since shoe polish is a complex mixture and may need extended time in order to become emulsified by the cleaning solvents you use.

Rinse the area of the spot thoroughly with luke warm water and blot repeatedly until dry. Don’t get the fabric too wet though, as this will cause other problems. You can avoid over wetting by using a trigger spray to mist, instead of flooding the area.You will need to remove as much of the solvents as you can, in order to prevent rapid re-soiling of the carpet.


Make sure there is proper ventilation when using volatile solvents.

Never use a laundry detergent because it may contain fluorescent dyes that may transfer to the fabric.

Never use automatic dishwashing detergents as they may contain bleaching agents.

Do not use solvents that are more concentrated than what is recommended.

Thoroughly rinse out all chemicals after the stain is removed.

Always call in a professional carpet cleaner if you have any questions about spot removal. A good professional carpet cleaning company will have all the equipment, materials and methods to remove stubborn stains from your carpet or upholstery.

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