Damage Control: How to Get Nail Polish off Almost Anything

Ever thrown out a shirt or ruined a carpet with nail polish? Stop! We’re here to show you how to get polish off almost anything with common household items!

Picture this: You’ve just finished a totally gorgeous manicure. As you congratulate yourself on a job well done and stand up for a well-earned stretch, your hand sends an open bottle of nail polish skittering off the table and onto your pristine carpet. In a moment of pure panic, you ruin your still wet mani as you frantically try to scrub the polish off the floor before it can dry.

We’ve all been there. Whether it’s a carpet, your favourite sweater or the chest of drawers you inherited from your mother-in-law, nail polish has a bad habit of spilling in the least convenient places. Unfortunately, our instinct to douse the stain in strong, acetone based nail polish remover can actually damage the surfaces we’re trying to save. So…when is it safe to use acetone and what should you do in the event of a nail polish mishap? Today, we’re going to show you how to get nail polish off almost anything!


#1 How to Remove Nail Polish from Carpets

Let’s start with one of the most common nail polish mishap zones: the carpet. If you’ve spilt nail polish on the carpet, the most important thing you can do is act quickly. Start by getting an old cloth and using it to soak up as much of the polish as you can, then blot the area with water to prevent the polish from drying. Once you’ve soaked up everything you can, apply a small amount of nail polish remover (without acetone is safer but less effective) to a second clean cloth.

Important: Test your cloth on a small patch of hidden carpet (in a wardrobe or under a table) to make sure the remover doesn’t strip colour from your carpet before proceeding.

If your carpet seems to react fine to the remover, apply it liberally to your cloth and begin to blot it against the stain. You should start to see nail polish transfer onto the cloth. Keep blotting until the polish stain is removed, then rinse the carpet with a gentle soap or carpet cleaner to remove any remaining polish or toxic cleaning agents.

Worried about using nail polish remover? Try substituting it with window cleaner!

But how can you remove dry nail polish from carpet?


Got a particularly stubborn nail polish stain or one that dried before you had a chance to clean it? The removal process is similar but a little bit trickier. Start by remoistening the stain with water, nail polish remover and an alcohol based hairspray. Then, use an old toothbrush (which you should have thrown out with your ex!) on your carpet fibres, gently scrubbing the polish to loosen and gradually remove it. Patience is key as you’ll probably have to repeat this process a number of times. Again, when you’re done, apply soap or a carpet cleaner to the area to wash away the harsh chemicals.

Tip: If you’re dealing with a light carpet, you can also try adding hydrogen peroxide. This will have a bleaching effect that will tackle dark stains.

#2 How to Remove Nail Polish from Wood

Removing nail polish from wood is a whole different ball game! To tackle a stain on your wooden floors or furniture, first spray the affected surface with denatured alcohol/methylated spirits or an ethanol based hairspray. Let it sit for approximately 30 seconds before wiping. Denatured alcohol is used to remove paint from woodwork and is gentler than other forms of spirits, but don’t rub too roughly or you may damage the surface of the wood.

But how can you remove dry nail polish from wood?

I’m glad you asked. Repeat the denatured alcohol application, but instead of using a cloth to remove the nail polish, use 0000 grade (incredibly fine) steel wool. It should be just tough enough to scrape the nail polish off the wood without damaging the finish. As always, be sure to test a small area first!

Important: Do not try to get stains out of a wooden floor or piece of furniture using nail polish remover. This will cause splotches and damage the finish on your wood.


#3 How to Remove Nail Polish from Clothes or Fabric

Almost as devastating as the idea of losing your security deposit is the realisation that you’ve ruined one of your favourite outfits. Just like carpet and wood, it can be risky to douse some materials in nail polish remover in case they react.  So, start with a spot test somewhere inconspicuous (like under the arm). If all is well, apply your nail polish remover to the trouble spot with a cloth or piece of thick, absorbent paper towel. Blot the polish with the cloth until you see results. Wash the clothes or fabric straight after to remove the cleaning agents.

But how can you remove dry nail polish from clothes?

If the polish dries on your clothes, things can get a little trickier. Pick or scrape off what you can, then apply nail polish remover or hairspray to the fabric before blotting at it with an absorbent pad. Replace the pad as necessary. If you’re not seeing an improvement by this point, try applying a dry cleaning solvent. If that doesn’t do it, it’s time to send it to the local dry cleaners and let an expert have a go!


#4 How to Remove Nail Polish from Hair

When you’re in a rush, it’s amazing all the unwanted places nail polish can end up! So, let’s tackle the issue of removing nail polish from hair. If the polish is still wet, apply a little bit of acetone free nail polish remover (acetone would be unnecessarily harsh on your hair) to a paper towel and run it through the affected strands to strip the polish from them. Then, wet a wide-toothed comb and brush a little water through your hair to remove all traces of nail polish remover.

But how can you remove dry nail polish from hair?

Fortunately, even dry nail polish isn’t too difficult to remove from your hair. Just work a conditioner into the mis-polished hair with your fingers. The dry polish should begin to peel off from your efforts. If this doesn’t work, you can then apply a bit of acetone free nail polish remover to finish the job. Remember to rinse your hair when you’re done!

We all know how easy it is to get polish just about everywhere other than our nails. However, all it usually takes to tackle even the most unfortunate stains is a little nail polish remover, some hairspray and a lot of elbow grease. Next time you’ve got a serious spill to tackle, just lose the stress and try these simple tricks for removing nail polish from most surfaces. You’ll thank us later. Good luck, ladies!

Do these tips work for you? How do you remove nail polish stains in your household?

Cover photo: weheartit.com

About the author

Bethany Tyndall

Bethany Tyndall is an enthusiastic, full-figured, Aussie beauty blogger with a passion for budget buys, DIY beauty, nail art & wild makeup ideas. Her biggest goal is to help ladies all over the world feel beautiful and confident at any size!

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