29 In Wardrobe Wellness

How hairspray cleaned up my patent leather boots

Brenda and Don Reiten

Hanging out at the Nest with Dad


Shortly after I got home from visiting Dad in Perham, my daughter Erin pointed out the white scuff marks on my patent leather Chelsea boots. Backstory: She’s famous for being the member of the BK EK Consulting Team who spots stains, scuffs, and snags in clothes when we’re doing closet work with our clients. She’s got a visual spotlight that we’ve all come to appreciate. “This needs to go to the cleaners,” she’ll say. Sometimes the stains are tougher, and she’ll pronounce a garment unsuitable for wearing, except for in the garden—at midnight—on a full moon.

So when she put that spotlight of hers on my boots, I knew I had to deal with them pronto.


Taking advice from Miss Stain Remover

“I don’t know what to do,” I said.

“Oh, this is easy,” she said. “Just use hairspray on it and it’ll take it right out.”

Erin talks fast. It came out more like this: “Justusehairsprayandit’lltakeitrightout.”

She’s so matter-of-fact about it. She makes it sound easier than getting chocolate off the back of your jeans because you were eating chocolate while driving the car and crumbles got under your butt—something else she detects.


I needed a tutorial for cleaning the scuff marks off of patent leather

Was I ready to try this hairspray trick on my own? Nope. Too much responsibility. I wanted her to show me exactly what she does and not in a rush. Do you want to guess how long I carried these boots, a travel size can of hairspray and a clean rag around with me in the trunk of my car? Maybe three weeks! It’s hard to snag moments with her at the end of the day. She’s a very busy person. The booties and the Rx for the scuffs remained packaged together in the trunk.

But when we went down to Los Gatos for a couple of days, I knew I’d have her full attention. I also figured our client would like to see the demonstration as well, because she’s got patent leather shoes in her closet.

I brought out the boots. Do you see those white lines? They sort of look like thin chalk marks. They show up brightly in the right light.


Scuffed patent leather needs cleaning

I’ve been trying to ignore the white scuffs on my patent leather ankle boots


I’ll be honest: I’ve noticed them there. My solution has been to look away. But if Erin says they can disappear, I’m all for it!


White scuff marks on patent leather

Trust me, those white marks are there even if the lighting is off


Why am I so nervous watching her apply the hair spray to the cloth?


Hairspray trick for shoes

Using the hairspray trick to remove scuffs


Next she uses her index figure to rub the dampened cloth across the marks. She did this for about 30 seconds.


Using hairspray to get rid of scuff marks

Erin rubs out the scuff marks with the help of hairspray


Then she showed me the boot. It looked so much cleaner! I mostly have the marks on one boot, but she treated them both.


Patent leather looks better now!

Scuff marks are gone!


See how shiny they look?


cleaned boots

You could see your face in this reflection


I let out a big sigh of relief. I’d been holding my breath! I love these boots. Did I think they were going to disintegrate or something? I put my The Office of Angela Scott patent Chelsea boots back on my feet and looked down. Such an improvement! I’m ready to put my three feet forward with pride. Oh wait, that’s Sophie’s paw. “Sophie, you’re in the after picture!”


Boots look great again

Putting our best feet forward


Next Syd decided to walk all over my feet.


The After Shot

Syd wants to walk on the shiny boots


Now that I’ve seen this patent leather cleaning trick with my own eyes, I won’t be afraid to use it next on the white scuffs on my Burgundy AGL patent leather oxfords. Hairspray: it’s a wonderful thing.

Another nifty thing to know about hairspray: One day I wowed Erin and another client with my own hairspray trick. It’s where you use hairspray and a cloth to remove red lipstick (could be any shade) from a cashmere sweater. If you want to learn how hairspray saved a cashmere sweater, here you go!


Shiny patent leather boots

Boots as shiny as the floor


What do you think? Would you try this trick? For some reason, I have a feeling you know another trick or two that you’d like to share with us. Have you removed something from something that you thought might be impossible to do? Give us all the details!



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  • Reply
    December 4, 2018 at 4:59 am

    Thank you for this! What a great tip! You always make life easier, Brenda! Have a blessed day!❤️

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      Thanks, Ramona! I do love to share tips and tricks with you!

  • Reply
    jodie filogomo
    December 4, 2018 at 6:17 am

    Do you know what else hairspray does? It kills insects that have invaded my house without my permission!!
    Now I need you to ask Erin how I clean up my suede boots???

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 2:01 pm

      Oh my! Insects!! I’m probably most comfortable around suede finishes. It’s surprisingly so easy to take care of suede. Just get a suede brush and use it to brush up the nap. Don’t use the same brush on different colors though. The black brush will leave flecks of black on brown boots. Not a good look!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2018 at 6:20 am

    I’d be afraid too Brenda but Erin is a trustworthy soul. I will store this handy tip if I ever own patent leather. PS Love the picture of you and your Dad.

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 2:00 pm

      Well, I’m glad to hear you say that you’d be afraid too! I was so much happier that she did it than if she’d just told me how to do it. Yes, I LOVE this pic of me and Dad too. Just love that guy!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2018 at 8:27 am

    I have heard that aerosol hairspray will remove ink from fabric. And mayonnaise will remove salt stains from shoes in the winter.

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 1:59 pm

      My Russ could use mayonnaise on anything and I avoid it. I can’t wait to tell him about this tip!

    • Reply
      December 5, 2018 at 8:19 am

      Yes on the hair spray re: ink removal. I once had a marker go through the dryer with a load of my kids’ clothes when they were young. (I’ve gotten much smarter about pockets since then. Ha!) It took a full can of aerosol hair spray but they all came out. A minor miracle.

      • Reply
        December 6, 2018 at 10:43 am

        No, I’m putting this in a higher level of miracles than “minor”. WOW!!!!

  • Reply
    December 4, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Also, vinegar will remove salt stains from shoes and boots in the winter.

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      Oh, wow, good to know. This must be what my Fargo friends do with their shoes and boots. They use a lot of salt there!

  • Reply
    Claudette Spiers
    December 4, 2018 at 1:42 pm

    As usual a lovely and very useful post as I have been eyeing up a pair of patent brogues ( I like the sound of yours ) and this tip will prove to be very useful as indeed the hairspray/cashmere one is too. I have just come back from 3 weeks with my dad and miss him as much as I know you miss your Dad. I love seeing you with him – it makes me feel close to my Dad too.

    • Reply
      December 4, 2018 at 1:57 pm

      Oh, Claudette, that really warms my heart about your dad. It’s probably my biggest heartbreak at this stage of life to be so far away. I’m pausing about pressing the button to go again in January. Last year it was just the coldest ever in January! However, our loving hearts keeps us warm. Hugs to you and to you and your Dad. I feel the same way hearing you talk about him!
      Enjoy those brogues you’re going to purchase!

      • Reply
        Claudette Spiers
        December 18, 2018 at 4:46 am

        Just back from 3 weeks with Dad a time I will cherish. And YES I bought a pair of black Patent brogues ….which I mentioned on your YES post. Hope you continue to have a fabulous holiday season.x

  • Reply
    December 4, 2018 at 3:20 pm

    I’ve successfully used Pentel Hi-Polymer block erasers to remove ballpoint ink from a couple of light-colored leather handbags with a pebbled finish.
    I originally tried the eraser out of desperation on a new (of course!) citron-yellow handbag I had marked with blue ballpoint ink because the directions on my liquid and paste leather cleaners all warned against using their products on pebbled leather.
    The eraser has to be very clean, preferably new. Start with a very small part of the mark and rub very lightly and gently with a corner edge of the eraser. Too much pressure will dull the finish on the leather.
    If the small spot you started with looks clean and the leather finish isn’t marred, continue working in the same way on the rest of the mark. If you’re not getting the ink off the leather, or the finish looks marred or dull, you’re obviously not going to continue.
    Do not use regular erasers on the ends of pencils, or those big pink all-purpose erasers, or any kind of gritty eraser normally used to remove ink from paper. I have never tried using the blue kneaded artists erasers, either, so I can’t vouch for them. I suspect they might end up transferring some blue color.
    Patience and a light hand are key.

  • Reply
    Elaine @ Following Augustine
    December 4, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    Rubbing alcohol easily removes ink from fabric.

    • Reply
      December 6, 2018 at 10:45 am

      I LOVE the word “easily” in that sentence!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 12:27 am

    My sister in law gave me the hairspray removing permanent marker trick many years ago. It works a treat on most fabrics. I know that some shops mark their sale items with a big spot on the label, but spray on a good amount of lacquer, it will spread all over. But if you wash it immediately, it will come out completely!! I love a good bargain, but I hate those big old spots!! Also, I’m going to try the eraser trick. I run a dress agency and find so many pen marks on beautiful bags. Thanks ladies…what a really useful thread x

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 5:13 am

    I laughed out loud at the chocolate crumbles on the car seat. Not that I’d ever do a thing like that. Oh no, not me 😀

    But as the proud owner of a new pair of shiny burgundy brogues, a mental note has been made of the hairspray trick. Thank you x

    • Reply
      December 6, 2018 at 10:44 am

      I was waiting for a fellow chocolate lover to perhaps admit to the chocolate crumbles on the car seat AND the clothes. Not that you did that…no, not ever!

  • Reply
    December 5, 2018 at 9:10 am

    I don’t know about removing marks but I use furniture polish on my patent leather shoes (Pledge is the brand I use in the UK). Makes the leather shine like a mirror; people do comment on it!

    • Reply
      December 6, 2018 at 10:42 am

      Wow! I never would have thought of that. My mother always used Pledge. Or rather I did. It was my job to keep the furniture polished growing up. Makes me want to run right out and just buy it to have those memories flood back. Thanks, Annette!

  • Reply
    Cindy Scurry
    December 5, 2018 at 2:14 pm

    Super helpful. Albeit, I’m usually like you – oh, I see you scuff marks, but then I look away and forget about them. But unscuffed sure look nice!

    • Reply
      December 6, 2018 at 10:41 am

      Glad I’m not alone in the strategy of ignoring!

  • Reply
    December 7, 2018 at 7:52 pm

    I’ve removed dark scuffs from nude patent leather shoes with rubbing alcohol.

  • Reply
    Cheryle Moore
    December 8, 2018 at 11:31 pm

    Tomato stains on white shirts or tshirts. Just wash as usual then place wet item in the sun ( lay flat on a table or chair) leave for several hours,
    Works like magic. The U V rays break down the stain.

  • Reply
    Mary Dana
    December 9, 2018 at 3:26 am

    On a slightly different note, I’ve used shaving cream to get makeup stains off the neck of my down parka. I haven’t tried it on something like a cotton shirt, but I’m guessing it would work. And I’m with the other folks who say seeing pictures of you and your dad makes me feel warm inside! Love is like awesome sauce–Just spread that stuff around!

  • Reply
    Ann in Missouri
    December 29, 2018 at 2:33 pm

    What a great hairspray / patent leather scuff mark tip. I’m going to use this tech ASAP. I’m also going to see how it works on some favorite (old) patent leather purses I adore, but have been ignoring scuff marks and, consequently, not using.

    Happy New Year to you, Brenda. And thanks for all the blog posts. I love your perspectives and style tips.

    Ann in Missouri

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