How To Remove Nail Polish from Clothes? [In 3 Easy Steps]

how to remove nail polish from clothes

You were innocently painting your nails, feeling like a true Picasso of the manicure world, when disaster struck. Your favorite shirt became an accidental canvas for your artistic talents, leaving behind a colorful masterpiece you never intended.

It’s time to banish those pesky nail polish stains and turn your clothing into a fashion statement that screams, “I survived the nail polish battle!”


Don’t try to put nail polish on acetate or triacetate fabric. No home cleaning method for removing polish is safe for these fabrics and could dissolve the fabric. Here’s how to remove nail polish from clothes effortlessly.

Related: How to wash acetate and triacetate clothes?

Cleaning Overview

Working Time:  20 – 30 minutes
Total Time:  1 to 3 hours
Skills Required:  Intermediate
Estimated Cost:  USD 5 – 15

What Will You Need


  1. Soap
  2. Water
  3. Absorbent white cloths or paper towels
  4. Cotton swabs
  5. Acetone or acetone-based nail polish remover (For tough nail polish stains)
  6. Rubbing alcohol (For dry-clean only clothes)


  1. Old credit card or dull knife
  2. Wooden Plank


Find the fabric content label on your clothes and read it before you do anything about the nail polish stain. There are a few easy ways to get nail polish out of clothes, such as blotting with nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol, letting the clothes soak in hydrogen peroxide or white vinegar, or blotting with nail polish remover.

Most upholstery can be cleaned with these methods, but if the fabric is silk or old, you should hire a professional cleaner to remove the stain.

Test Your Fabric

Before working directly on the stain, you should test your technique and the fabric. To test your fabric, use the cleaning technique of a part that is not visible after wearing it. Find a hidden seam on the item’s fabric and test a small amount of acetone-based nail polish remover to ensure it doesn’t change the fabric’s color.

smiling man holding dropper in front of a shirt

How to Remove Nail Polish From Clothes

Step 1: Remove the Excess Fingernail Polish

Do not rub the stain or try to wipe it up, as this could push the polish more, plunging into the fabric or spreading it out even more. If you need to clean up a big glob quickly, use the edge of an old credit card or a dull knife.

removing nail polish stains from shirt with credit card

Step 2: Wash With Soapy Water

After removing the excess nail polish:

  1. Put a non-absorbant material, such as wood, below the stain.
  2. Soak a cotton swab in oily soap and water.
  3. Gently rub this cotton swab on the stain in a circular motion, from outside to the inside.
  4. Keep using clean cotton swabs if the used one gets colored.
  5. Keep repeating this process until the most nail polish is removed from clothes.
using cotton swab to remove nail polish stain

Step 3: Rinse

After the soapy water solution has worked on the stain, rinse the stain directly under the tap water.

women washing cloth under tap

Use Acetone Nail Polish Remover for Stubborn Stains

Put the acetone on a white cloth or cotton swab. Put some white paper towels under the stain so the acetone can soak up. To keep the nail polish stain from spreading, keep dabbing as it moves from your clothing to the white cleaning cloth or swab. As the stain is absorbed, move to a clean part of the towel or switch to a new swab. Keep going until there are no more traces of the polish.

If any color is still there after you rinse the item in acetone, try rubbing alcohol. Use a cotton swab to dab the alcohol on the stain and blot the color away.

Related: Does rubbing alcohol stain clothes?

using acetone to clean shirt stain

Additional Tips

Acetone and alcohol will break down fingernail polish, and if you work hard, you can get most or all of the stains out of clothes, furniture, and carpet. It might take more than one treatment to get rid of the stain.

Tip 1: If you don’t have nail polish remover or rubbing alcohol, try rubbing alcohol-containing items like hand sanitizer, hairspray, perfume, or spray deodorant.

Tip 2: After the stain has been removed clearly, add white vinegar to the washing cycle with the laundry detergent to eliminate any stain remnants.

Tip 3: If you get something on your clothes, wash them immediately so the stain doesn’t set.

Tip 4: If the nail polish stain is nasty, take the item of clothing to a dry cleaner. A dry cleaning solvent is another excellent way to remove nail polish stains.

Related: Will Vinegar Bleach Black Clothes

How to Prevent Nail Polish Stains on Clothes?

Preventing nail polish stains on clothes can save you from the hassle of removing them later. Here are few steps that we recommend:

  1. Use Protective Clothing or Aprons: Before applying nail polish, wear a protective clothing item or an apron to cover your clothes. This will create a barrier between the nail polish and your clothing, reducing the chances of accidental spills or smudges.
  2. Choose a Suitable Workspace: Set up your nail polish application area in a well-lit and stable space. Ensure it is away from any valuable or delicate fabrics to minimize the risk of accidental spills.
  3. Be Mindful of Brush Control: Practice precise brush control while applying nail polish to avoid any stray brush strokes that may end up on your clothes. Take your time and apply the polish carefully to minimize the chances of accidents.
  4. Allow Sufficient Drying Time: After applying nail polish, allow ample time to dry completely before coming into contact with your clothing. This will reduce the risk of smudging or transferring the wet polish onto your clothes.
  5. Clean Up Spills Immediately: In case of any accidental spills or drips, act quickly to clean them up. Prompt action can prevent the stain from setting into the fabric. 
  • Does dried nail polish come out of clothes?

    Most of the time, nail polish remover and soap and water are enough to get rid of dried nail polish.

  • Does nail polish come out of clothes in the wash?

    Most of the time, nail polish remover, soap, and water are enough to get rid of dried nail polish.


To remove nail polish from clothes, blot excess nail polish, apply soapy water or acetone nail polish remover, gently scrub the stain, rinse and wash, and repeat if needed. Note: Test in an inconspicuous area first.

Don’t clean acetate, triacetate, modacrylic, wool, silk, or other natural fibers that don’t hold their colors. Instead, take them to the dry cleaner and let them do it for you. 

Depending on the type of fabric, you may need to treat nail polish stains differently. For example, hydrogen peroxide does an excellent job on white clothes. Use rubbing alcohol to clean synthetic materials instead of acetone if you can.

Have you accidentally spilled nail polish on your jeans? Then you must read: How To Remove Nail Polish From Jeans