How to clean spilled nail polish dried or fresh

Spilled Nail Polish? Here’s How to Clean it Up Even if it’s Dried.

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Just about everyone who enjoys a home manicure accidentally gotten it on their floor, sofa, or clothes. Like any spill, it’s easiest to clean up spilled nail polish if you act on it right away. But even if it’s dried in place, not all hope is lost.

So, roll up your sleeves without smudging your manicure, and let’s talk about the steps and household items that will get nail polish stains off of your stuff.

How to Clean Freshly Spilled Nail Polish

The easiest way to clean up freshly-spilled nail polish is by liberally sprinkling it with sugar or table salt to absorb the wet polish, then wait 2 minutes and wipe it up with a damp paper towel. Don’t use your vacuum cleaner—the polish and sugar mixture can clog your machine.

Once the spill is gone, use the methods below to remove discoloration left by nail varnish.

How to Remove Nail Polish On Clothing or Upholstery

Heads up: You need to know the type of fabric you’re treating before choosing the best method to remove the dried nail polish stain.

If you can’t identify the fabric type, or if the item is non-washable (silk, satin, leather, or suede), take it to a dry cleaner. Professional dry cleaners have solvents that can remove nail polish stains from most fabrics.

Step 1: Break away the dried residue.

To quickly remove dry nail polish from fabric, hold an ice cube on it for a minute to make the polish brittle, then pry it up with a spoon. Shake or vacuum the fabric to remove flakes before using the below methods to remove the nail polish stain.

Step 2: Blot and lift the stain.

Stick a piece of cardboard under the fabric to protect your work surface. Then, dampen a cloth or paper towel with clear acetone (for natural materials) or rubbing alcohol (for synthetics).

Do not use acetone nail polish remover on synthetic materials: it will melt acetate and destroy the dye on polyester and other synthetics.

Pro Tip

Do a spot test with before using any stain remover and only proceed if everything looks good.

Remember to dab and lift the stain, not rub it. Then turn the towel, so you’re always working with a clean spot.

Step 3: Rinse and launder.

Once you’ve lifted the stain, rinse the area with warm soapy water, then launder it right away in cool water. Let it air dry then check to see if you need to repeat the process. Don’t use warm water or the dryer until the stain is completely gone, or you might set the stain.

How to Get Nail Polish off of Hard Floors

Step 1: Lift the dry residue.

Use the edge of a credit card or a spatula to pry up any dried nail polish and get up as much as you can since excess polish can create a larger stain. You can apply an ice cube to make it more brittle first if that helps.

Step 2: Select your stain remover.

  • Ceramic, porcelain, or cement floors: Use clear acetone-based nail polish remover.
  • Wood, laminate, vinyl, and linoleum floors: Use isopropyl rubbing alcohol.
  • Grout: Either acetone-based nail polish or isopropyl rubbing alcohol. (Spot test first.)

Step 3: Blot and lift.

Get a white cloth damp with the stain remover and dab the nail polish mess. Don’t rub, though, or you may just spread it around. Rotate the cloth often, too, so you are always working with a clean spot and change cloths if you need to.

Step 4: Rinse.

Once you’ve removed the dried nail polish stain, mop your floor. If you got it on the grout, consider resealing it to protect if from future mishaps. (Or maybe you’re not as clumsy as I am?)

How to Get Nail Polish Out of Carpet

There’s no need to panic over nail polish spilled on your carpet or area rug. Spot test somewhere out of the way, maybe a closet floor, then have at it.

Step 1: Lift the residue.

For fresh spills, treat as explained above. Then you’ll need to grin and bear it because the spill has to dry before you can lift the residue.

You can speed it up by placing an ice cube directly on the mess. Not too many, though, you don’t want to press it into the carpet pad. Once the nail polish is dry, pry it up with a spatula or plastic card.

Step 2: Select your stain remover.

  • White or light-colored carpeting: Use clear acetone-based nail polish remover.
  • Dark carpeting: Use isopropyl rubbing alcohol.

Step 3: Blot and lift.

Get a white cloth damp with the stain remover and press it against the nail polish spill. Don’t rub, or you’ll spread the problem. Turn the cloth after each press, so you’re always using a clean spot, and change to a fresh one if you need to.

Step 4: Rinse.

Once that stain’s gone, wipe the air with a cool, soapy cloth to get rid of the stain remover and rinse it with a cloth that’s barely damp with water. You can press a dry towel over the area to help it dry, but don’t use a blowdryer or any type of heat until you’re certain the stain is completely gone.

Step 5: Inspect and Shampoo.

Just to be safe, check it one more time since some carpet stains return as the pad dries. Once it’s really gone, vacuum your carpet to fluff it back up. You might even want to shampoo it at this point to get rid of any stain remover smell.

How to Get Nail Polish off of Walls

To get nail polish off painted surfaces like doors and walls, dampen a microfiber cloth with rubbing alcohol and gently dab it on the spot. Try not to rub, so you aren’t spreading the mess. Switch to a clean part of your rag and repeat until the nail polish stain is gone, then rinse with water and let it dry.

Now, let’s look at cleaning the other messes on your walls.

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  1. Bernadette Sharp says:

    Thanks for this post! It was quite helpful for me. My girl spilled some nail polish on the kitchen floor (it’s laminate) and your tips worked great for me in this case. I cleaned the polish very fast and there are no signs left.Thank you for sharing!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re welcome!

  2. Jim Koster says:

    Here is a simple trick that worked for me. I once removed nail polish stains from a wooden furniture using aftershave lotion.
    It contains lots of alcohol like hair spray and works the same way. I guess it should work on clothings too, never tried though.

  3. Katie Coleman says:

    Realize this is an old thread but I broke an entire bottle of red nail polish on a marble tile floor with white grout last night. What finally got it ALL out was alternating pure acetone and then Clorox Clean Up spray. Neither worked well alone but alternating it came up completely. I just let it sit- no scrubbing or anything. I did the acetone a few times, then the bleach, then repeat. lt looks like nothing happened.

  4. I spilled it on my white nike hurache. I used non acetone nail polish remover. I’ll go buy nail polish remover with acentone

  5. Thank you for this emergency how-to! I accidentally knocked a bottle of red nail polish off the bathroom counter and had to get it off of tile, plastic, and the bath mat. Thanks to your tips, the floor and plastic are under control. While the bath mat is white, I didn’t have the energy to tackle it yet (and frankly, we’re not that attached to it). I‘m just so glad to have it off the tile and grout! That could have been a nightmare.

    Thanks again!

    1. Katie Berry says:

      You’re so welcome!

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