Shoe Polish

COIT’s Guide to Shoe Polish Stain Removal

If you had a choice between wearing old and scuffed up shoes or new and shiny shoes, chances are you’d select the new and shiny shoes, right? Thanks to modern day shoe polish, even old shoes can look like new. In a few minutes or less, shoe polish can give your older shoes a much needed pick me up.

But what happens when you accidentally get some shoe polish on your clean carpet? With COIT’s guide to shoe polish removal, you won’t have to stress about these kind of unexpected stains. We’ll give you a few do it yourself methods to try when you need to remove shoe polish stain residue.

Before we get into the step-by-step shoe polish removal techniques, let’s take a closer look at the ingredients in various types of shoe polish, as well as its history.

Hands polishing black dress shoes

Ingredients in Shoe Polish

Over the past few centuries, the ingredients in shoe polish have evolved. Originally, shoe polish was made of oil, beeswax, tallow with lanolin and wax. Modern day shoe polish contains a lot of the same ingredients, with variations, and comes in three different forms: liquid, cream or paste. Most people find that the cream form of shoe polish is easiest to work with, as it’s a bit less messy than shoe polish that comes in liquid or paste form.

History of Shoe Polish

So how long has shoe polish been around? Believe it or not, shoe polish has actually been in use since the medieval times. In Europe, people used a waxy substance known as “dubbin” to keep leather soft. Its original form didn’t produce a strong shine, but did help waterproof leather as well.

When the 18th century arrived and leather with a glossy finish became more popular, shoe polishes that brought out more shine were often homemade. During this time, “shoeshine boys” appeared throughout many urban neighborhoods, offering quick and easy shoe shining services to earn money. This practice still exists in many modern day cities, though most modern day shoe shiners are a bit older than they were back then.

Shoe Polish Becomes More Popular

At the end of the 19th century, there was a huge demand for leather shoes and boots. More people could now afford to buy shoes, and the military involved in World War I needed large amounts of polished army boots – and they needed them fast.

A market for shoe polish that could shine shoes quickly and efficiently was created – and Ramsay and Hamilton McKellan were ready to meet the demand. Working out of Australia, they produced Kiwi Dark Tan shoe polish, which soon became known as the best shoe polish in the world.

Europe, Britain and New Zealand eagerly imported this shoe polish, using it to polish shoes, gun holsters, belts and saddles as well. The name “Kiwi Dark Tan” actually came from New Zealand’s state bird, the Kiwi, as Ramsay’s wife was a New Zealand native.

Remove Shoe Polish from Carpet

Now that you know a bit more about the history of shoe polish and what you’re facing with accidental stains, you can follow these do-it-yourself steps to remove shoe polish from carpet fairly easily.

• COIT’s guide to remove shoe polish from carpet

If you’re still battling stubborn shoe polish stains after trying these home remedies, professional cleaning may be a good option to explore. Check out COIT’s Cleaning Services to learn more about the help we can offer.

How to Remove Shoe Polish from Carpet

COIT’s Guide to Removing Shoe Polish from Carpet

No matter how careful you try to be around your home’s carpeting, accidents happen! From food to dirt to ink and more, high traffic areas of your carpet are bound to fall victim to a few unexpected stains.

But what about shoe polish stains? How do you go about removing this waxy substance from your carpet fibers when you’re in a pinch? If you’re unsure of how to go about removing this type of waxy residue, COIT’s guide to removing shoe polish from carpet can offer a few trusty pointers that can save the day.

Shoe Polish

How to Get Shoe Polish Out of Carpet – Method # 1

Removing shoe polish from carpet is as easy as following the steps below:

  1. Upon discovering the shoe polish stain, scrape away as much as you can using a butter knife. The sooner you act the better!
  2. Using a dry-cleaning solvent, sponge the shoe polish stain, blotting it until all of the liquid has disappeared. Some good brands to consider using are Dryel or Goddard’s Dry Clean Spot Remover.
  3. Next, mix 2 cups of warm water with one tablespoon of ammonia and one tablespoon of liquid hand dishwashing detergent (be sure to use this exact combination of ingredients in your mixture, as mixing unknown chemicals is not advised and can be harmful to your health).
  4. Apply this solution directly onto the shoe polish stain.
  5. Continue to blot the shoe polish stain, slowly absorbing the liquid.
  6. Pour cold water directly onto the stain and continue blotting until dry.

The six steps mentioned above should assist you when you’re wondering how to remove shoe polish from carpet.

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How to Remove Shoe Polish from Carpet – Method # 2

Did you know that nail polish remover can be used for more than just manicures? To answer the question of how to get shoe polish out of carpet, grab your nail polish remover and follow this do-it-yourself technique, step-by-step:

  1. Take a white cloth and pour a generous amount of non-acetone nail polish remover directly onto it.
  2. Gently rub the affected area of the carpet with this rag.
  3. Using a home dry cleaning kit, pour a bit of the liquid onto a cotton ball and apply directly to the shoe polish stain.
  4. Mix 2 cups of water (room temperature) with 1/8 teaspoon of liquid detergent. Be sure to use detergent that is a non-bleach formula. Apply this detergent directly onto the stain using a white cloth and scrub the stain. 5. Wearing protective gloves, take 1 cup of water and mix it with 1 tablespoon of general household ammonia.
  5. Dip a clean white cloth in this solution and continue scrubbing the carpet.
  6. Rinse the shoe polish stain with a generous amount of warm tap water and blot dry. If you try the two methods outlined above and you’re still not getting the stain out, the trained team at COIT can help you answer the question of how to get shoe polish out of carpet.


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Remember to always do a spot removal test on a portion of carpet or upholstery that is normally not visible. These are suggested treatments only and COIT can't be held accountable for any damage sustained by use of the treatments in this spot removal guide.

Ricardo Cleaning Carpet

Home remedies not working?

If you’re still battling stubborn stains after trying these home remedies, professional cleaning may be a good option to explore. Check out COIT’s Cleaning Services to learn more about the help we can offer.

Contact COIT for stain removal help