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How to Get Paint Off of Leather Boots: 6 Simple Ways That Work

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How to get paint off leather boots cartoon drawing of black boots with paint on them

We’ve been there.

You’re painting up a storm and things get a bit messier than expected. 

You spill paint on your favorite pair of leather boots and you wonder whether you’ve ruined them for good. 

This isn’t your typical dirt and dust. Paint can be annoyingly stubborn.

What’s worse, paint stands out intensely against the subtle, rich tones of leather. This can leave your favorite stomps loudly marred, making them embarrassing to wear.

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Luckily, you don’t have to settle for relegating your leather boots to the back of the closet. You can get paint off and restore your favorite pair to their former glory. 

All it takes is a little knowledge and a few easy-to-acquire supplies.

What You’ll Need 

Most paints can be removed using simple items you probably already have laying around. These include:

  • Baby oil
  • Cooking oil
  • Vaseline
  • Nail polish remover
  • Alcohol
  • Dish soap 
  • Rags 
  • Cotton swabs
  • Paper towels

Different paints require different treatments, but one of the above should work for nearly any spill on your leather boots.

How to Get Paint Off Leather Boots: 6 Quick and Easy Ways

Method #1: Cooking Oil 

Many paints that won’t wash off with water are oil soluble. This means that adding cooking oil will rehydrate them and allow you to wipe them off your boots.

To do this, start by getting a rag or paper towel. Gently pour cooking oil onto the rag. Aim to dampen the rag, but try to avoid excessive oil, as this can leave your boots looking saturated and discolored.

Carefully begin to wipe the paint with the rag or towel, taking note of how the leather interacts with the oil. The paint should slowly rehydrate and begin to come off.

If the boot is absorbing the oil, finish wiping away the paint, then wash the boots with mild soap and water to remove the oil.  

You can use just about any cooking oil, though it’s best to avoid anything that might be harsh on the leather or that has a particularly dark color, such as chili or sesame oil. This method is particularly effective for acrylic and oil paint.

Method #2: Baby Oil 

Like cooking oil, baby oil can help rehydrate paint and make it easier to wipe off. Baby oil also has the benefit of being clear and hydrating, making it a bit safer to use on your boots.

To use baby oil to remove paint, follow the same steps you would using cooking oil. Baby oil works best on acrylic and oil paints.

Method #3: Vaseline 

Vaseline is petroleum jelly, meaning it is an oil-based product. Because of this, vaseline has many of the same chemical properties as cooking oil or baby oil. 

However, vaseline is a touch more aggressive than these oils. Vaseline is a great option if you’ve already attempted to use oil but it didn’t remove the paint entirely. 

To use vaseline for paint removal, dip a cloth into the jelly and gently work it into the paint. Try to use as little as possible and focus only on the paint itself. Vaseline can discolor leather if you aren’t careful.

Once the vaseline has been worked into the paint, simply scrape the paint away with a clean cloth. 

This method works on oil and acrylic paints.

Method #4: Nail Polish Remover 

The key ingredient in most nail polish removers is acetone. Acetone is more abrasive than any of the above-mentioned options, meaning it is better suited for handling stubborn paint.

To use nail polish remover to get the paint off your leather boots, start by dampening a cotton swab or cotton ball with the solution. Gently dab at the dry paint and let the acetone work for a few seconds. 

Once you’ve done this, scrape the paint off with a clean cotton ball. You may have to repeat this process a few times, but this method should progressively remove the paint from your boots.

This method works for both acrylic and oil paints.

Method #5: Alcohol 

If none of the above have worked, alcohol can help get the paint off your boots. That said, save this one as a last resort, as alcohol can change the color of leather. 

To use this method, dip a cotton swab into your alcohol. Apply the alcohol directly to the paint, trying to use as little as necessary. It should begin to dissolve the paint quite quickly. As it does, wipe it away with a clean cloth or cotton swab.

This method may require a few repetitions, but it is all but guaranteed to get the paint off your boots.

This is the final method focused on acrylic and oil-based paints.

Method #6: Dish Soap and Water

Water and dish soap may sound a bit too obvious, but very few people think to try it. Dish soap is designed to cut through grease, making it a decent option to get rid of paints, even oil-based ones.

To use this method, start by mixing your dish soap and warm water in a basin of some sort. Take a clean cloth and wet it in the mixture. Gently scrub the paint spots. If this method is going to work, the paint should start to come off. 

Once the paint is gone, pat your boots dry with a dry cloth.

This option is best suited to latex paint, but it can work for minor oil paint spills as well. Just be careful not to scrub too harshly or you may scratch your boots.

Does the Type of Paint Make a Difference?

The type of paint plays a big role in the success of your removal method. Different paints have radically different chemical properties. As such, the cleaning material needs to match the kind of paint you’re trying to remove.

There are three main types of paint you’re likely to encounter.

Latex Paint

The easiest paint to remove is latex paint. This paint is the cheapest and is typically used for art purposes. It’s made of acrylic resin.

Latex paint is water-based, meaning it can be rehydrated and wiped away with just water. Soap can make this even easier. 

Oil Paint

By contrast, oil paint is made of a natural or synthetic oil base. This means it isn’t water-soluble. 

Just like oil and water don’t mix, oil-based paint won’t dissolve into water on its own. Soap can help, but it’s still no guarantee of success.

That’s why using oils or substances like vaseline is necessary to clean your boots of oil-based paint. The fats in these items rehydrate the paint, allowing you to wipe it away.

Acrylic Paint

The same goes for acrylic paint. Both acrylic and oil paints just require a bit more than a quick rinse if you want to get them off your boots. 

Acrylic paints, like latex paints, are made of acrylic resins. That said, they also incorporate acrylic polymers. This makes them much more resilient than latex paints. They tend to require oils to remove.

Different Solutions

With more aggressive chemicals like acetone and alcohol, pretty much any paint is going to come off. That said, latex paints don’t require such extreme measures. Using aggressive means like these should be reserved for extremely stubborn paint spots, as they can damage or discolor your boot leather.

Ultimately, your first step when trying to clean paint off your leather boots should be to identify the type of paint. This will keep you from wasting your time and potentially damaging your boots by using ineffective or overly harsh chemicals.


If you’ve spilled paint on your favorite pair of boots, don’t lose hope. Even stubborn paint can be removed with the right materials. 

Try to figure out what kind of paint you’re up against and apply the gentlest solution to minimize the risk to your leather. You can always go up a degree if you need to.

Did you enjoy the article? How do you clean paint off your boots? Subscribe to our YouTube channel for more handy boot wearing tips.  


How do you remove dried paint from boots?

To remove dried paint from your boots, apply a bit of acetone-based nail polish remover to a cotton swab. Gently apply it to the paint and let it work for a moment before wiping it away with a clean clean cotton swab.

How do you remove angelus paint from leather boots?

Angelus paint is a type of acrylic paint. As such, an acetone-based nail polish remover should do the trick. Apply the nail polish remover to a cotton swab, dab your leather boots until the paint begins to run, and wipe it away with a clean cotton swab or rag.

How do you get spray paint off leather boots?

Dried spray paint requires either acetone or alcohol to remove. Take one of the substances and apply it sparingly to a cloth. Gently dab at the paint spots until the paint begins to rehydrate. Once it has, wipe it away with a clean cloth. Repeat this process until the paint is gone.

How do you get acrylic paint off leather boots?

Start by using either cooking oil or baby oil. Apply the oil to a clean cloth and dab at the paint until it’s rehydrated. Once this happens, wipe away the paint and oil mixture. Repeat this until the paint is gone. If it doesn’t completely remove the paint, try the same method with vaseline.

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