How To Remove Nail Polish Stains From Clothes

Posted by Ren Wu

How To Get Nail Polish Out Of Clothes

Did you recently stain your favorite fit with bright boysenberry-tinted nail polish? Though an at-home mani can be a fun and creative way to express yourself, sometimes things can get a little messy.

Most DIY manicure mishaps like rough cuticles or smudged designs are only temporary. However, nail lacquer stains can be permanent if not managed properly. Nail polish can leave behind some of the most stubborn stains.

Jump To:

  1. Considerations Before You Get Started
  2. Gather Your Materials
  3. Perform a Spot Test
  4. Remove Excess Polish
  5. Apply Some Acetone-Based Nail Polish Remover
  6. Remove Any Traces With Rubbing Alcohol
  7. Toss it in the Washing Machine
  8. Let Your Clothes Air Dry

Keep reading, and we'll tell you the best way to remove nail polish stains from clothes.

See Related: 13 Gorgeous Ombre Nail Designs To Try In 2024

#1. Considerations Before You Get Started

We hate to break it to you, but some fabrics might be totally ruined once they come into contact with nail polish. However, that's not often the case. Usually, you'll just need to adjust your stain-removal approach in order to take into consideration the type of fabric you'll be dealing with.

Always check the fabric content label of your clothes before trying any DIY home remedy. If you're going to be handling non-colorfast fabrics like silk, acetate, triacetate, or modacrylic, avoid acetone nail polish remover. The chemicals it contains may dissolve or discolor the material, so you're best off taking them to a professional dry cleaner.

Keep in mind that nail polish dries quickly, which can be good when DIYing intricate Christmas nail designs. It's also good if you need to remove nail polish stains. Never try to remove nail polish stains that are still wet. This will just push the fingernail polish deeper into the fabric fibers.

Simply wait for the polish to air dry on your clothes before trying to get it out.

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Bonus: The Best Cuticle Oils For Healthy Nails

#2. Gather Your Materials

You need to set yourself up for success. That's the best way to make sure you can restore your favorite fit to its former lacquer-free glory! So, you should start this process by gathering all the necessary materials.

Here's what you'll need:

  • An old credit card or a dull knife
  • Eye dropper (optional)
  • Washing machine or sink
  • Laundry detergent or dish soap
  • Acetone-based nail polish remover (ideally, free of conditioners)
  • White cloth or cotton rags
  • White paper towels
  • Cotton swabs
  • Rubbing alcohol or hydrogen peroxide

Grab anything else that might come in handy later.

a pile of q tips stained area cold water elbow grease natural fibers blot dry get nail polish removers laundry detergent microfiber cloth remove dried nail polish stain removal

#3. Perform a Spot Test

Even if you check the fabric care label of your clothes, it's a good idea to perform a quick spot test. That way, if your acetone polish remover interacts negatively with your clothes, you'll know before you're in too deep.

To do this, pick out an inconspicuous area on your clothes that doesn't often see the light of day. Grab a Q-tip, dip it in your acetone-based polish remover, and apply it directly to your clothes. Wait a few minutes, and make sure that the fabric's color doesn't change.

If the color holds true, you're good to go!

#4. Remove Excess Polish

Now, it's time to get down to business. When it comes to removing nail polish stains from clothes, you should never rub the stain. This will just push the nail polish deeper into the fabric fibers and make it nearly impossible to remove.

If you are tackling a big glob of lacquer on your clothes, start by scrapping off any excess polish. You can remove big globs of dried nail polish with a credit card or a dull knife, taking care not to rip your clothes!

#5. Apply Some Acetone-Based Nail Polish Remover

nail polish remover stain gently damp cloth cleaning method cleaning cloth accidentally spill dabbing motions direct heat extra tips fabric type warm water circular motion dry clean only item hidden area

Next, grab some white paper towels and white cotton cloths. (Avoid using dyed towels or cloths, as the color can transfer to your clothes and result in a second stain.)

Place the white paper towel under the stained fabric. This will act as a protective barrier for the rest of the garment, absorbing any acetone that soaks through the stain.

Depending on the size of the stain, grab either a white cloth or a cotton swab and dip it in the acetone-based polish remover. Working from the outside of the stain inward (this prevents the stain from spreading), dab the nail polish stain with the acetone-soaked cotton.

As you dab the stain with the acetone, you may notice it transferring to the white paper towel beneath. Keep at it until all of the stain is absorbed into the paper towel beneath. Add extra layers of fresh paper towel as you go to prevent the stain from transferring to the clothing beneath.

#6. Remove Any Traces With Rubbing Alcohol

At this point, hopefully, all of the nail polish stain will be erased. But some stains are more stubborn than others! If the stain persists, it's time to use your rubbing alcohol.

Dip a cotton swab into your rubbing alcohol before gently dabbing the stain. Be sure to blot away the color with a clean white cloth.

#7. Toss it in the Washing Machine

woman putting clothes in the washing machine dry cleaning solvent hydrogen peroxide baking soda liquid dish soap at home manicure absorbent white cloth gently scrape clean cloth

Now, your favorite T-shirt is stain-free once again. But that doesn't mean your job is over! After removing the nail polish stains, toss your garment in the washing machine. Wash them as you normally do with detergent.

If your clothes are particularly seeped in nail polish remover or acetone, try to gently blot some away with a damp microfiber cloth before tossing it in the machine.

#8. Let Your Clothes Air Dry

After machine washing your clothes, let them air dry. If any of the stain is left behind, feel free to run through steps five through seven once more until it's all gone.

Accidents happen, but don't let this mishap set you back! Nail polish stains are pretty tricky, but your clothes will rarely get caught in the line of fire. Feel free to experiment with stylish French tips and autumn-inspired manicures without fear!

Need some DIY inspiration? Check out this video for a quick how-to!

Keep Reading: How to Safely Remove Press-On Nails At Home


At Maniology, we believe your nails are opportunities for adventure, fun, and unrestrained artistic expression. Our nail stamping plates and nail accessories are here to help foster your self-expression in the hopes of building a community of individuality. For more nail tutorials, subscription box updates, and designs, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, TikTok, LinkedIn, and YouTube.

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