A tin of both black and brown shoe polish sits on a shining cloth besides polishing brushes.

Shoe Polish

Julie Weber Is This A Poison

Toxicity: Low Risk

Expected symptoms: 

– staining of the skin with prolonged contact
– throat irritation and coughing
– stomach upset
– eye irritation

What to do:

1. Wipe or rinse out the mouth.
2. Give a serving size of water to drink.
3. Rinse any exposed skin with lukewarm water and soap.
4. Call 1-800-222-1222 for additional instructions

Quick facts about shoe polish:

Shoe polish is a mixture of waxes, dyes, and solvents (sometimes to dissolve the ingredients), sold as solid wax, cream, or liquid. It is applied to clean, dry shoes to preserve shoe leather, restore the color, and produce a shine. Other common names include shoe cream, Kiwi®, Red Moose™, and Free People®.

Shoe polish poisoning side effects

Callers to the poison center often ask, “Is shoe polish toxic?” and “Is inhaling shoe polish fumes toxic?”  

Chemicals in shoe polish such as petroleum, naphtha, turpentine, and dyes can cause symptoms if left on the skin or inhaled into the lungs. The best practice is to wear protective gloves while applying shoe cream and to use it in a well-ventilated area in order to minimize exposure to the chemicals. Be sure to wash your hands well after polishing shoes. Side effects of eating polish for shoes include an upset stomach. As with all chemicals, keep out of reach and sight of children and animals.

What to do if there is an exposure?

If you find someone has eaten a small amount of shoe cream, do not panic. Wipe out their mouth with a soft, wet cloth and give them some water to drink. Wash exposed skin using lukewarm water and soap. If problems start or you have questions, call the Missouri Poison Center right away at 1-800-222-1222. The poison center is open all day, every day, for poisoning emergencies and questions.

Eye exposure

If someone gets shoe polish in their eye, there can be immediate burning and stinging, which requires prompt first aid to avoid an eye injury.

  1. Start rinsing eye(s) with lukewarm water.
  2. Call the Missouri Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 for further recommendations.
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