How to Get Nail Polish off of Wood

Once nail polish has dried onto the surface of wood, it can prove tricky to remove. Solvents that effectively remove nail polish from fingernails are often too harsh for wood surfaces. It's important to determine the best course of action to take to avoid the possibility of damaging the finish. While you may be able to quickly remedy the problem, you may also have to take more work-intensive measures to restore the wooden object back to its original condition.


Wood and nail polish don't mix.
  1. Dip the end of a cotton swab into pure acetone to saturate it.

  2. Swipe an inconspicuous area of the wooden item to see if the acetone causes damage to the finish.

  3. Rub the fingernail polish with the saturated cotton swab to remove the polish if you determine that the acetone will not damage or alter the wood's finish. Replace the cotton swab with a fresh one when it becomes colored with polish to avoid transferring the polish back to the wood surface.

Scraping and Sanding

  1. Place the edge of a single-edge razor blade at a 45 degree angle to the surface of the stained wood.

  2. Gently move the blade forward into the stain, in small, controlled movements, to lift the dried polish from the wood's surface without digging down into the wood. Do not drag the blade back - only move it forward.

  3. Wipe the residue away once all the polish is removed. Gently sand the area with 600 grit sandpaper to restore the wood's finish.

Soaking and Removing

  1. Pour 1 tbsp of boiled linseed oil into a small container. Dip a section of a soft cloth into the linseed oil to saturate it.

  2. Place the oil-soaked portion of the cloth onto the dried fingernail polish. Hold the cloth there for approximately three minutes to allow the oil to soak into the polish.

  3. Chip the fingernail polish away from the surface with the edge of a non-stick spatula. Allow the wood to dry completely. Apply a wood conditioner to restore moisture to the wood.


  • Be careful when scraping or using chemicals on the wood to avoid irreparably damaging the finish.
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