How to Remove Nail Polish from Clothing

Jennifer Pinto

Applying nail polish requires a steady hand and a bit of patience, but it can be hard to sit still and do nothing while your nails dry.

Keep your wet nails away from your clothing to prevent messing up your hard work and nice outfit.

You can shake your hands in the air or blow on your fingers, and just when you think the polish has set, you notice a fabric imprint where a wet nail has brushed against your shirt or pants. As frustrating as this scenario is, you can reapply the polish. The concern comes with the colored mark now present on your clothing. Fortunately, there's a simple method for lifting the stain.


  1. Dampen a white paper towel with acetone, which is available at any drugstore.

  2. Blot the nail-polish stain with the acetone. Move the paper towel around as it becomes dirtied with the nail polish.

  3. Rinse the stained area with water.

  4. Repeat blotting the stain and rinsing with water until the stain no longer transfers to the paper towel.

  5. Apply a prewash stain remover to the stained area, and launder as usual.

Bug Spray

  1. Spray the nail polish stain with bug spray.

  2. Scrub the stain gently with a soft-bristled brush to work the bug spray into the polish, which will begin clump.

  3. Rinse the clumps off with water.

  4. Apply the prewash stain remover to the remaining mark left behind. Work the solution into the stain with a cloth until the color is gone.

  5. Wash the article of clothing by hand so as to not get bug spray on other laundry items in the washing machine.

  6. Tip

    Lay the stained clothing on a clean, flat surface before working. If dealing with a shirt, open the shirt so the stain doesn't transfer to another part of the clothing. If dealing with pants, place clean, white paper towels behind the stain to prevent it from transferring to another area of the pants. Test an inconspicuous area of the clothing to see how the acetone reacts to the fabric. Wear gloves to protect your hands. Ventilate the area and wear a face mask. Certain nail-polish removers are acetone-free, so check the label. Pure acetone will be more effective.


    Acetone can dissolve fabrics containing triacetate or acetate. Check the clothing's label, and if either of these two fibers are present, use amyl acetate -- available at drugstores -- instead.

    Use white paper towels because any design or coloring on the paper towel could transfer to your clothing.

    If after removing from the washing machine the stain still remains, don't place the clothing in the dryer. The heat will set the stain. Repeat the stain-removal process with your chosen cleaning method, or consult with a dry cleaning professional about your options.

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