How to Get Fingernail Polish Out of Suede Shoes

Melynda Sorrels

Nail polish is one of those substances that mandate extreme care as it stains everything it touches. If you’ve handled your suede shoes with wet nails or had an unfortunate spill, it may seem like a disaster. Cleaning suede is quite different than cleaning other materials.

Since it can’t tolerate as much moisture, liquid cleaners are out of the picture. Though this may appear to be impossible to fix, it isn’t. Removing nail polish from suede shoes can be accomplished with only minimal effort.


If the stain won’t come off, talk to a leather professional about how to remove it professionally and what products are recommended.


Avoid using harsh chemicals and abrasives on suede, as it’s easily damaged.

Remove Wet Nail Polish

  1. Blot the area with paper towels gently to remove as much nail polish as possible. Avoid wiping as this may spread the stain.

  2. Add a mild soap into warm water to make it really sudsy. Swirl the water around to create bubbles. It’s the bubbles you want, not the water.

  3. Dip a sponge or clean cloth into the bubbles and blot the area gently. Wiping may cause the stain to spread around so be sure to only blot. Continue to blot until the nail polish is gone.

  4. Set the shoes in a cool dry place until all of the moisture is gone.

  5. Brush the nap back into place with a suede brush.

Remove Dried Nail Polish

  1. Scrape away as much dried nail polish as you can with a plastic scraper or dull knife. Using anything sharp may damage the suede.

  2. Rub the area gently with an artgum eraser to remove the stain or as much as possible.

  3. Rub the area gently with an emery board to remove the last of the stain. If the emery board isn’t getting it all, switch to a small piece of 6/0 to 8/0 sandpaper to gently remove it.

  4. Brush the area with a suede brush to restore the nap.