How To Get Rid of Nail Polish Stains

By Subodh / March 11, 2012

There are a variety of ways that you can attempt to remove nail polish from a piece of cloth or leather. Be warned that some of them may discolor or damage the fabric, and especially leather and vinyl. Consider getting something expensive cleaned by a professional. The first rule is to not let the nail polish dry. Blot up it up gently with a paper towel, then use a non-acetone nail polish remover (acetone remover works too but can cause damage). Don’t rub, just gently dab with a paper towel dipped in it. If you’re lucky, this will do the trick. If you have a lingering stain, then you may try the following.

  1. Always begin by scraping lightly with a blunt edge to remove as much as possible. Rub the stain with some gum eraser. This is abrasive and may lift the rest of the polish. If it doesn’t, try an emery board and, if desperate, a fine sandpaper. Don’t destroy the fabric in process.
  2. Scrape, then spray with hair spray until wet. Let it soak for a few minutes, and scrub with a soft-bristled toothbrush. You should always be as gentle as possible to avoid damaging the fabric. Use a commercial spot or stain cleaner and wash.
  3. Instead of hairspray, make a paste out of Oxiclean by adding a small amount of water. Let it sit on the stain for about ten minutes before gently scrubbing, repeating as necessary, and washing.
  4. You may repeat the initial acetone treatment if it doesn’t damage the fabric. Unlike with the hairspray and Oxiclean, you don’t want to let acetone soak into the fabric. Rather, blot it with a cloth or paper towel soaked in acetone, and move to a clean spot when the one you’re using becomes stained.
  5. On carpets, if you have a very small polish stain you may be able to cut the tops of the fibers off, although this is not advisable for large areas. The same methods can apply as for lifting stains off clothing—scraping plus an Oxiclean paste or acetone—but you have to be extra careful with carpets. Test it out in a corner some place first to make sure that it won’t discolor your carpet. If your carpet has a stain guard on it, you will destroy that guard by the use of acetone, and acetone that soaks all the way through has the power to damage and even dissolve the backing that lies under your carpet. When you’ve removed as much of the stain as you can, let it dry and vacuum the area.

The primary things to remember are to scrape any excess off with a spoon or non-serrated butter knife, apply the chosen chemical and blot repeatedly to continue removing the stain. You may have to repeat the process more than once. Hairspray and Oxiclean can be allowed to saturate the area, but not acetone. Remember that using some of these things, especially acetone, can damage vinyl, leather and other fabrics, so be careful.