Remove nail polish stains

How to Remove Nail Polish From Clothes

If you have little girls at home, you’ll know that one way to make them feel really excited and really special is to arrange a mummy-daughter pampering day. You don’t need to head off to the spa or salon for this – you can easily do your own manicures in the comfort of your own home. There’s just one little problem: stains!

As any parent knows, getting kids to sit still can be quite the challenge, and when they’re racing round with their fingernails and toenails covered in not-quite dry polish, stains happen. A bright pink nail polish stain on a white shirt can look like something from your laundry nightmares, but rest assured it can actually be quite easy to remove nail polish from clothes.

Natural fibres

Check the care labels on the clothing that has nail polish on it – if it’s a natural fibre, such as cotton or linen, then removing nail polish stains is simple!

  • Place an ice pack on the stain to harden it. Working with wet polish will just encourage smudging and even more staining.
  • Peel off any large flakes of dried polish, if they come away from the fabric easily – never pull or tug at the clothing. Handy hint: use tweezers to gently pick up the flakes.
  • Soak a microfiber cloth in an acetone-based nail polish remover, and test on a hidden of the garment . Check that the solution does not discolour the fabric. Always read the care label first.
  • Dab the back of the stain with the acetone-soaked cloth until the colour of the stain has faded. Never scrub or wipe, as you may damage the fabric.
  • Wash as normal with your regular detergent like OMO Auto in your machine or OMO Handwash if you prefer to remove by hand any residue left by the nail polish or the remover. Just remember to follow the instructions on the detergent’s label.

Synthetic fabrics

If the care label on your garment suggests you’re working with a common synthetic fabric, such as nylon or polyester, you can follow the same steps as above. Removing nail varnish from clothes made from these sorts of synthetic fibres can be just as straightforward.

Delicate synthetics

You will need to pay extra attention if you need to remove nail polish from clothes containing acetate. Fortunately, it’s not a very common fibre – it’s usually found in fancy Matric Dance dresses and wedding dresses, as it’s very luxurious and drapes well. If your clothing does contain acetate, keep in mind that a normal acetone-based nail polish removers can dissolve the synthetic fibres.

The good news is that removing nail polish stains is still possible. You could follow the steps above using a non-acetone based nail polish remover, or you could try spraying an alcohol-based hairspray onto the stain and gently massaging the nail polish with an old toothbrush to remove as much discolouration as possible, before washing with your OMO detergent of choice.

However, with delicate fabrics it’s best to consult a dry cleaning professional before attempting stain removal yourself.

Always test on an out-of-sight area first, keep the room well ventilated, and never proceed if you’re unsure about the material of your garment. When in doubt, ask the dry cleaners!

How to Remove Nail Polish from Fabrics

Table of Contents:

  1. Using Nail Polish Remover
  2. Removing Nail Polish Without Nail Polish Remover
  3. Additional Tips and Advice

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Monica asked: How do I remove hot pink nail polish from my bed sheets? Please, I need help. I have a new set of white sheets and dropped hot pink nail polish.

Removing nail polish from fabrics takes special precautions. While some methods may easily remove the polish, it can take the color of the fabric with it. Begin by ensuring that the fabric is colorfast and then proceed with the following steps.

Using Nail Polish Remover

You Will Need:

  • Nail polish remover (non-acetone is gentlest)
  • Soft cloths
  • Cotton swabs or cotton balls

Steps to Remove the Nail Polish:

  1. If the polish has not dried yet, blot up as much as possible with a clean cloth or paper towel. If any stain remains after you have removed as much wet polish as possible, continue with step 3.
  2. If the polish has already dried, don’t worry. You can remove the polish using the steps below.
  3. Check the tag of your item to ensure it is not acrylic if using acetone nail polish remover as it could damage the fabric and should be avoided,
  4. Begin by moistening a soft cloth with nail polish remover. If the area is small, you can use a cotton swab or cotton ball instead.
  5. Gently blot a hidden area of the fabric to ensure that it is colorfast. A good place to test is the inside of a hem. If the color is not removed or damaged by the polish remover, it should be safe to proceed to the stained area.
  6. Use the moistened cloth to blot the nail polish stain. As you blot, you will see the nail polish begin to transfer to the cloth.
  7. Switch to a fresh area on the cloth regularly to keep from reapplying the polish to the fabric.
  8. Once the nail polish is removed, launder the piece as usual to remove any residue from the nail polish remover.

Removing Nail Polish Without Nail Polish Remover

  • Off bug spray
  • Old toothbrush
  • Hairspray

Steps to Remove the Nail Polish:

  1. If the polish has not dried yet, blot up as much as possible with a clean cloth or paper towel. If any stain remains after you have removed as much wet polish as possible, continue with step 3.
  2. If the polish has already dried, don’t worry. You can remove the polish using the steps below.
  3. Spray a small amount of Off bug spray on a hidden area of the fabric to ensure that it is colorfast. If the color is not removed or damaged by the spray, it should be safe to proceed to the stained area.
  4. Spray the bug spray onto the nail polish. Spray enough that the stain is saturated.
  5. After the spray has started to be absorbed by the stain, scrub the area gently with an old toothbrush.
  6. If the stain remains, saturate the area with hair spray (cheap hairspray works best). Allow the hairspray to set for a few minutes, then scrub with an old toothbrush.
  7. Once the nail polish is removed, wash the piece as usual.

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Additional Tips and Advice

  • Never use acetone-based polish remover on acetate fabrics. The acetone will ruin the fabric. For acetate items, wash the nail polish out with a quick washing.
  • As nail polish sits and dries on the fabric, it will set and become more difficult to remove. For the best removal success, treat the stain as soon as possible.
  • Delicate and dry clean only fabrics should be treated by a professional. Be sure to point the stain out to the cleaner when you drop it off, so they can treat it right away.
  • Goo Gone has also been effective in removing dried nail polish from various fabrics. It can leave a stain on some fabrics, so test a hidden area first.
  • One of our site users (Thanks!) was able to remove some red nail polish from a T-shirt by pouring some liquid OxiClean stain remover onto the polish and scraping it off with a fingernail. Be sure to rinse the area after the polish is gone.

There are a multitude of stains that can ruin a garment, and nail polish is right at the top of that list. So if you inadvertently painted your favorite shirt instead of your toes with nail polish, how do you remove it?

Here’s a simple step-by-step guide for removing nail polish from clothing:

Assemble your needed items: high-quality paper towels (in my experience, they don’t leave little paper bits all over your garment), nail polish remover, a hard surface to work on.

Make sure that the nail polish is dry. If you try to work with it while it is wet, you run the risk of spreading it on the garment and creating a bigger stain.

Fold a couple of paper towels on top of one another several times. You need multiple layers of paper towels for this step. Then place the stain on top of the folded paper towels.

Now you have a choice. You can either 1.) pour nail polish directly on top of the stain or 2.) Saturate another paper towel with nail polish and dab it onto the stain. If your garment is fragile or delicate at all, I would definitely choose option #2.

The goal here is to pour on polish remover and use another paper towel to dab, dab and dab again to slowly remove the stain. Do not rub the stain – you only want to dab it. Each time you touch the stain, use a fresh part of the paper towel. You don’t want to smear polish anywhere else on the garment.

Continue to use fresh remover and fresh paper towels until you are satisfied with how well the stain has come out.

It helps to dab on the front and the back of the stain since the polish saturates all of the fibers on the garment.

After you’ve removed the polish to your satisfaction, launder the item as you normally would in the washing machine. It probably has quite a bit of polish remover in the fibers at this point, so wash it only with old, clean rags (to balance the machine) or either alone.

This method is probably going to take a lot of polish remover, a moderate amount of time and quite a few paper towels.

Note: Polish remover can damage some materials, especially those fabrics like acetate. If you consider your garment to be ‘ruined’ with the polish stain on it, it won’t hurt to try the polish remover method. However, if you are still unsure, put a small amount of remover on a Q-tip and dab the inside of the seam. If you have any trouble with a change in color or density of the fibers, you’ll know that the remover is not safe for your garment.

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At home DIY manis and pedis are lots of fun until that that blazing shade of red nail polish accidentally spills on your clothes, upholstery or carpet. So what’s one to do? We asked cleaning experts Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid cleaning service, and Jack White, vice-president of technical service for Rainbow International, to tell us how to eradicate these enamel errors. Read on!

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March 2, 201700:49

How to remove nail polish from clothing

The following advice is for fabrics that are specifically cotton or man-made. For silk, wool and other fine natural fibers, have the stain professionally removed as soon as possible.

“If the stain is fresh, gently remove as much excess nail polish as possible,” advises Roberts. “Don’t rub, but gently dab the nail polish stain with a clean white cloth. Check if the fabric contains acetate, triacetate or modacrylic. If so, don’t attempt to use an acetone nail polish remover as the acetone in it will deteriorate the fabric. Instead, opt for non-acetone nail polish remover for these fabrics.”

If the fabric is washable, gently apply a small amount of nail polish remover to the stain with a clean sponge or white cloth. Carefully dab in a blotting motion to prevent the nail polish from embedding itself deeper. Work from the outside in, continually moving to a clean area of the towel underneath as it absorbs the stain. Repeat until the stain is no longer transferring. Rinse the fabric in cool water, and machine wash as usual.

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How to remove nail polish from upholstery

First, mix one tablespoon of liquid dish soap with two cups of cool water. Using a clean white cloth, sponge the stain with the detergent solution. Blot until the liquid is absorbed. Repeat these steps until the stain disappears. Then, sponge with cool water and blot dry.

If the stain remains, contact a cleaning professional as soon as possible.

How to remove nail polish from the carpet

Rainbow International offers the following basic rules for removing polish stains from a rug:

Whatever you do, don’t rub the stain. It can not only cause the stain to be driven further into the carpet, but it also could cause damage to the carpet’s fibers.

Don’t start at the center of the stain. Instead, wipe or blot from the outside in.

Don’t use hot water. It will cause the stain’s structure to change, which can result in it bonding with the surface of your carpet. This will make stain removal so much more difficult. Why create more work?

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Pre-test the solvent in an inconspicuous place by applying several drops of it with a cotton swab to the predominate colors of the fabric. Allow it to sit on this area for 30 minutes to an hour. If the color transfers to the cotton or a color change occurs, then a professional cleaner should be considered.

In the case of nail polish, the solvent to test is non-acetone nail polish remover. If the fabric is color-safe, apply several drops of non-acetone based nail polish remover with a cotton swab and, working from the outer edge toward the center, gently agitate to remove nail polish. Change swabs as needed. Do not over-wet or you’ll spread the stain. Blot with a clean white cloth and repeat as needed.

If the stain remains, it’s time to call a cleaning professional like Rainbow International.

How to Get Nail Polish Out of Fabric: Natural Fibres

Check the care labels on the clothing that has nail polish on it – if it’s a natural fibre such as cotton or linen, then removing nail varnish is simple!

  • Place an ice pack on the stain to harden it – working with wet polish will just encourage smudging and even more staining.
  • Peel off any large flakes of dried polish if they come away from the fabric easily – never pull or tug at the clothing. Handy hint: use tweezers to gently pick up the flakes.

  • Soak a microfiber cloth in an acetone-based nail polish remover, and test on an inconspicuous area of clothing – check that the solution does not discolour the fabric. Always check the care label first.
  • Dab the back of the stain with the acetone-soaked cloth until the colour of the stain has faded. Never scrub or wipe as you may damage the fabric.
  • Machine wash as normal with a good quality laundry detergent, like Persil Powercaps washing capsules, to remove any residue left by the nail polish or the remover. Our caps are pre-dosed for convenience, so all you need to do is add them to the washing machine drum before putting in your clothes. Just remember to follow the instructions on the pack label to decide whether you need one cap or two

How to Remove Nail Varnish from Fabric: Synthetic Fibres

If the care labels on your clothing suggest you’re working with common synthetic fabrics such as nylon or polyester, you can follow the same steps as above. Removing nail varnish from clothes made from these sorts of synthetic fibres can be just as straightforward.

How to Remove Nail Polish from Clothes: Delicate Synthetics

You will need to pay extra attention to any clothing containing acetate. Fortunately, it’s not a very common fibre, and is usually found in ornate prom dresses and wedding dresses as it’s very luxurious and drapes well. If your clothing does contain acetate, keep in mind that acetone-based nail polish removers can dissolve the synthetic fibres.

The good news is that removing nail varnish is still possible. You could follow the steps above using a non-acetone based nail polish remover, or you could try spraying alcohol-based hairspray onto the stain and gently massaging the nail polish with an old toothbrush to remove as much discolouration as possible before washing with one of our Persil Powercaps.

However, with delicate fabrics it’s best to consult a dry cleaning professional before attempting stain removal yourself. Always test on an inconspicuous area first, keep the room well ventilated, and never proceed if you’re unsure about the material of your garment – remember, you can always pop down to the dry cleaners! How do you remove nail varnish from clothes? Share with us your tips for cleaning up after a nail varnish disaster on our Facebook page.

You might be as confident with a polish brush as an experienced manicurist, but we all make flubs once in a while. And since polish is extremely difficult to remove, it’s important to act fast, says Carolyn Forte, director of the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab: “The longer a stain sits, the harder it is to remove.” Here’s what to do when your polish winds up anywhere but your nails.

Clothing

Place the fabric face down on a clean white cloth or paper towel, and blot with acetone. Caution: Do not use acetone on fabrics containing acetate or triacetate (as many synthetic fabrics do). It will melt these fibers. Rinse with clear water until the stain no longer transfers to the cloth or paper towel. Apply a prewash stain remover, like Shout Advanced Gel ($14 for a 3-pack, amazon.com), and launder as usual.

Carpeting

Carefully blot up excess polish, then use an eye dropper to apply a small amount of acetone to the stain. Blot immediately and repeat until no more of the stain can be removed. To banish any stubborn excess, take a clean, white cloth and sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent, like Guardsman Professional Strength Dry Cleaning Fluid Stain Remover Solution ($50, amazon.com) and blot until the solvent is absorbed. If the stain persists, use an eye dropper to apply hydrogen peroxide directly to the spot. Sponge with cold water and blot dry.

Upholstery

Carefully blot up excess polish, then apply a small amount of acetone to the stain, using an eye dropper. Blot again immediately, and repeat until no more of the stain can be removed. If you need to continue, use a clean white cloth to sponge the stain with a dry-cleaning solvent, and blot until it’s absorbed. As a last resort, use an eye dropper to apply hyrodogen peroxide directly on the stain. Sponge with cold water and blot dry.