DIY: How to Remove Permanent Marker from Leather Soles

The shoes I purchased at Nordstrom Rack in Manhattan last fall.

Shoes: Badgley Mischka, sz 7

Labels and permanent markers on the soles of the shoes…my pet peeve!!

When the permanent marker is on the ball of the feet, I just leave it, because it will get dirty anyways.  But for this shoe its in a very visible location.  Online suggested rubbing alcohol, Mr. Clean Magic Eraser, and other chemical products.  I was really skeptical about using chemicals on the soles, so I used rubbing alcohol on one side and I used a crystal file on the other side.

The rubbing alcohol method was a total fail!!  It also made the marker ink spread.  I was afraid it would leave some permanent stains on the soles of my shoes.  I used a crystal file because it wasn’t as coarse, higher grit is safer for this experiment.  I also used an eraser to assist in removing the grayish leather dust by-product.  Close-up photo below.

Quite pleased with the results, I waited for the left side to dry and filed off the rest!

Now the sole of the toe.  All the adhesive from the price label is stuck on the shoe after removing the label.  I used to just leave it…I’d figure I’d pick up enough dust and dirt so the soles aren’t sticky anymore.  This may work on flats, but not for heels!  With stuff and gunk sticking to the ball of the feet, gradually the ball of the shoe may become imbalanced and uneven, and the ball of your shoe may really turn ball-like!  This is how I once embarrassingly fell flat on my face wearing 5″ Jimmy Choos.  To remove the adhesive on the sole of the shoes, I used a combination of the nail file and the eraser.

After a couple of grueling hours…

I got a bit lazy and didn’t get all of the permanent maker off, but I think its good enough!

Does anyone else have this issue when they buy shoes?  How do you remove sticky adhesives and permanent marker?

  • Alterations Needed

    Great tip! I’ve been lucky enough to never snag a pair of shoes with permanent marker, but always see them at discount stores and it makes me so sad…how could someone do that to such a lovely shoe! Now I know to plunk down with a nail file and eraser to get that sucker off!

    As for stickers…I usually carefully peel, and then attack with a towel that is very lightly wet with baby oil. Not the perfect method, but it usually gets rid of that dreaded stickiness well enough.

  • Maye

    WendysLookbook shows how to get rid of labels from shoes with peanut butter. Check it out!

  • The Little Dust Princess

    I don’t think I’ve gotten that before, but it sounds painful to get rid of. You can remove the stickiness with peanut butter, I think. I saw it on Youtube (wendyslookbook) when she used peanut butter on her Louboutins. : )

  • lor

    I saw Wendy’s Lookbook too! Louboutins have the smooth/polished leather soles, which are impermeable. Mine are the soft leather soles, which were permeable…

    I think any permeable surface, any product with oil works. Also works removing price labels on anything else. For shoe soles like that I use oils I have at home, usually azulene oil. I did see on other sites about using peanut butter, but I don’t have peanut butter at home, so I don’t want to purchase peanut butter for this little project :P Also I think it was meant for permeable surfaces. Plus trying to remove the permanent marker with alcohol was disastrous enough…so I didn’t want to use chemicals on the price label side, so I took the mechanical approach! File away!

    And all other times I’ve bought discount shoes, the permanent marker was always on the ball of the feet, so it always turns black anyways!!

  • Beth Marsch

    Permanent marker comes off with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. So does the silver paint marker that our local thrift shop uses. It works *very* quickly and easily, and doesn’t damage the leather. 

  • Rose

    Use Goof Off it takes the sticky adhesive that the price tag leaves on shoes, or any other hard surface. Use a Q Tip and dip it into the Goof Off.