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5 Tips On How To Remove Nail Polish From Clothes And Other Fabrics

nail polish spill

If you paint your nails, chances are you’ve had an accident that’s left you a little stressed and wondering what the best way to remove it is. If you haven’t yet, count yourself lucky. No matter what group you’re part of, we’ve put together a summary of the best tips and tools needed to effectively remove nail polish. If you’re looking to get the stain out as quickly as possible, we’ve added a summary below each section to help you out. For help with larger cleaning jobs, book a cleaning service to receive with a well-trained and vetted SweepStar.

Putting down a layer of protection before painting your nails is a good idea, but accidents may still happen, which is why we’re here to help you.

1. Don’t Always Turn To Nail Polish Remover

Some people might think of turning to nail polish remover, but the answer is not that simple. The truth is that this can do as much damage to fabric as the spill itself. Removing nail polish from any fabric requires a careful approach, but it’s worth it when your favourite item of clothing is saved.

It’s important to read the laundry label before cleaning a stain because fabric and carpet come in so many different materials. It will tell you exactly what type of material you’re dealing with, which is important in taking your next steps. 

While nail polish remover containing acetone will remove nail polish from just about anything, it can also damage fibres and remove dyes from the fabric. Acetone is also very flammable and can cause dizziness and headaches, so choose a milder solution when possible.

Although some nail polish spills may require the use of acetone, most do not. No matter what you use to get the job done, always be sure to spot-check an unnoticeable area of the fabric first. Now that you’re a bit more clued-up, it’s time to learn how to remove nail polish from different fabrics.

2. How to Remove Wet Nail Polish From Carpet

Because carpet is thicker than most other materials, it’s important to act as quickly as possible to avoid it from sinking deeper. If you’ve spilled a fast-acting dry polish, then it’s even more imperative that you act with haste. Grab a cloth and blot it gently, but don’t rub, as this could make the stain larger by spreading it around.

Using hairspray or alcohol should be your go-to products here. You can also try using a small dropper to apply hydrogen peroxide and blotting out the nail polish with a cloth. If you have a light-coloured carpet, a non-acetone nail polish remover should work best for removing the spill. Place a small amount on a cloth or sponge and blot the stain until no polish remains.


  1. Blot gently with a cloth to remove the upper layer.
  2. Use a cloth or sponge with hairspray, alcohol, or hydrogen peroxide to blot out the rest.
  3. Use non-acetone nail polish remover for light carpets.

3. How to Remove Dried Nail Polish From Carpet

If you see a dried nail polish spill on your carpet, start by scraping and picking off the dried polish with a knife or razor. After getting as much off as you can, use a vacuum to suck up the rest. Once you’ve vacuumed as many dry pieces as possible, follow the same method you would to remove wet polish. Use a cloth or sponge with soap and water to scrub out stubborn particles that may be remaining. 

If enough time has passed, a nail polish spill can sometimes be embedded in the underside of your carpet or even the floor beneath. This could be more than a DIY job and might require the services of a carpet cleaning professional.


  1. Scrape with a knife or razor.
  2. Vacuum dried pieces.
  3. Follow the method for removing wet nail polish.

4.How to Remove Nail Polish From Clothes

Because nail polish spills are most likely to happen on your clothing, these steps are the most important to remember. As mentioned above, stay away from nail polish remover if possible as it can have an adverse reaction with certain fabric dyes.

Your best options for clothing spills are hairspray, a dry cleaning solvent, or laundry detergent. Using fresh cotton swabs when needed, dab any of these products gently to remove the polish. If none of these work, try nail polish remover (making sure it won’t damage the fabric). 

White Clothing

If it’s white clothing you’ve spilled on, use hydrogen peroxide to bleach the stain away gently. 

Delicate Clothing

For delicate fabrics like silk or wool, test your cleaner on an inside seam to make sure it won’t do any damage. Delicate fabrics can usually hold up to most stain removers, but scrub carefully to avoid damaging your clothing.

Once removing the stain, follow the instructions on your laundry label to clean your clothes the way you usually would. 


  1. Using cotton swabs, dab the stain gently with hairspray, dry cleaning solvent, or laundry detergent. Use nail polish remover if none of these work.
  2. Use hydrogen peroxide for white clothing.

5. How to Remove Nail Polish From Fabric Upholstery

Spilling nail polish on your favourite couch can be rather stressful, but as is the case with other materials, there are ways to get it out. Acting with haste is also of vital importance here for the same reasons as that with carpet.

Try a dry cleaning solvent as your first option. If that isn’t fully effective, apply some hydrogen peroxide to the area and blot gently. Then use a wet sponge to remove any remaining residue before gently drying with a clean cloth.

Spills on suede and leather will require a different approach.

Suede Fabrics

Apply baking soda to the stain for 15 to 20 minutes to soak up the excess nail polish. Then use a toothbrush to gently brush away the powder from the surface. For more stubborn stains, apply some rubbing alcohol to fresh cotton balls when needed, and blot the polish away. Once the stain is removed, let the suede fabric air dry and brush the material using a suede brush.

Leather Upholstery

The tools you’ll need to remove nail polish from leather are rubbing alcohol or hair spray, and cotton balls. Apply the alcohol or hairspray onto a cotton ball and blot the stained area. Continue blotting the stain using fresh cotton balls when needed, until all of the polish is removed. Then use a soft cloth with a detergent solution made of water and a couple of drops of dish soap to wipe away the polish and residue in a gentle, circular motion. Once that’s done, use a different cloth to dry the area thoroughly.


  1. Blot the area gently with a dry cleaning solvent or hydrogen peroxide. Use a wet sponge to remove the remaining residue, then dry with a dry cloth.
  2. For suede fabrics, use baking soda to soak up the nail polish for 15 to 20 minutes. Use rubbing alcohol for more stubborn stains. Let the fabric air dry before brushing with a suede brush.
  3. For leather fabrics, blot the stain using rubbing alcohol or hairspray. Then use a soft cloth soaked in water and a couple of drops of dish soap to wipe in a gentle circular motion. Dry off using a different cloth.

Use these tips and tricks to safely remove nail polish spills if ever they happen, and don’t forget to share them with friends who could benefit from them too.

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