How to Get Nail Polish off Clothes (Expert Guide for 2024)

If you want to do your nails yourself at home, you should know how to get nail polish off clothes since it is likely you’ll get a runaway smudge every once in a while. If you think removing nail polish is an impossible task or that acetone is the only solution, read on to discover tips and tricks to efficiently deal with this kind of mishap.

What You Need to Remove Nail Polish From Clothing

Nowadays, women have numerous options for doing their manicures. They can either do it all by themselves at home, with LED lamps and nail glues, or they can decide to leave it to the professionals and visit a cosmetician. In other words, there are plenty of people out there who still prefer to take the matter into their own hands and do their own manis at home.

Of course, unless you’re using a premium dip nail kit or a similar method, there is a good chance you will find a nail polish smudge on your clothes. While there are several cleaners you could buy for this purpose, it’s also not difficult to figure out how to remove nail polish from clothes with home remedies. The first step is to gather your supplies. You will need:

  • laundry detergent
  • plastic spoon
  • paper towels
  • acetone/nail polish remover
  • soap
  • toothbrush/soft clothes brush
  • white vinegar
  • hairspray
  • dish soap

How to Get Nail Polish off Clothes With Laundry Detergent

If you wonder what’s the easiest way to remove nail polish from fabric, using laundry detergent is probably it, in part because there is a pretty good chance you already have some in your house. However, note that this method is much more likely to work if the stain is still fresh.

While the first thing that comes to your mind may be to throw the clothes into a washing machine, that would be a mistake since it would only make the situation worse. Instead, follow these simple steps, and you’ll see that getting nail polish out of clothes doesn’t have to be a hassle:

  • To start off, you will need a plastic spoon or something similar to scrape up any wet nail polish and prevent it from smearing around more.
  • Grab a paper towel and smoothly dot the damp area, but avoid scrubbing it.
  • Now is the time to pour a bit of laundry detergent onto the polish. The amount of detergent depends on the size of the stain, but you will usually need less than a teaspoon.
  • Get another paper towel or a clean cloth, and once again, dab the treated area for a while before rinsing it directly under the faucet using lukewarm water.

If there is still some polish remaining, you can try the next method.

How to Remove Nail Polish From Clothes With Acetone/Nail Polish Remover and Soap

If you decide to use your favorite at-home gel nail kit to do your own perfect manicures, you should have a nail polish remover or acetone at hand for unplanned situations. If you’re worried that you won’t know how to get red nail polish out of clothes, a nail polish remover that contains acetone should work on stronger colors as well.

You need to be careful, though, since acetone may damage some fabrics. This is why you should always first test it on a small and inconspicuous spot before trying out this method. Once you are ready to go, here’s how to remove nail polish from clothing:

  • Use a plastic spoon or another similar tool to remove the excess nail polish, but avoid rubbing the area since you will only push the polish deeper into the fabric or spread it out more.
  • If you are dealing with a small stain, you can soak a cotton ball in acetone, while bigger spills might require you to grab a white rag and pour a generous amount of the cleaner.
  • Dab the area continuously, and add more acetone if needed until you cannot see any polish on the fabric.
  • Pour a mixture of hot water and dish soap onto the stain, and if there is still some polish left, you can use a clean toothbrush and scrub it off gently.
  • Rinse the area under cold water and launder your clothes in a washing machine or by hand, as you usually would.

If you spilled some nail polish on your leather jacket or leather bag and wonder how to remove nail polish from clothes without acetone, you can try the following method.

How to Get Nail Polish Out of Clothes With White Vinegar

Since vinegar is a regular fixture in most kitchens and can be used as a household cleaning product in many situations, it’s one of the most affordable ways to deal with nail polish on clothes.

  • First, get a clean rag and soak it in distilled white vinegar, after which you should leave it to sit for about 10 minutes on the stained area.
  • If you are dealing with a larger stain, fill a bucket with half a cup of vinegar and two gallons of water, and then soak the whole garment in it for 10 minutes.
  • Depending on the size of the stain, use a clean toothbrush or a soft clothes brush and scrub the affected area. 
  • Next, take another clean rag soaked in vinegar and blot the stain.
  • Rinse the vinegar and let the clothes dry before checking to see whether there are still some traces of the stain remaining. If not, wash the garment as you usually would.

How to Get Nail Polish Out of Clothes With Hairspray

If you need other recommendations on how to get nail polish out of clothes without nail polish remover, believe it or not, you can simply use a hair spray. Since, in recent years, the haircare cosmetic lines began to thrive, we believe most women are likely to have a can of hair spray at home.

You can use this product in two different ways. The first one requires some waiting, but you can try it anytime, anywhere, as it only calls for some hair spray. So, if you are at work or somewhere out of your house and notice a slight nail polish stain on your clothes, you just need to spritz the stain with hairspray and let it dry for at least an hour before you gently peel it.

The second method for removing nail polish from clothing using hair spray is a bit more involved, and you’ll need some additional items.

  • Spritz the tainted area with hairspray and then pour some dish soap, followed by warm water.
  • Continue doing this while scrubbing the stain gently using a clean toothbrush until the nail polish comes off.
  • If there is still some dried nail polish left, you can use a pair of tweezers to peel it off.
  • Rinse everything with hot water and wash the clothes in the washing machine as you usually would.


How do you get dried nail polish off clothes?

Since dried nail polish is much harder to remove, it’s best to act fast once you notice a spill. Still, if you find the stain later, even dried stains can be handled with nail polish remover or hydrogen peroxide for more delicate or white clothing.

If you want to know how to get dried nail polish out of clothes using the first method, apply some nail polish onto the stain and then remove the residue with soap and water. Alternatively, you can use hydrogen peroxide to soften the polish, and you can then peel away the plastic-like substance smoothly.

Can toothpaste remove nail polish from clothes?

Toothpaste is a great cleaning product in numerous situations, but it does not work with nail polish. While it can actually help you remove nail polish from your nails, if you wonder how to get nail polish off skin or clothes using toothpaste, the answer is that you shouldn’t even try.

How do you get dried nail polish off without remover?

If you don’t want to use potentially harmful products on your clothes, you can try removing dried nail polish stains with some paper towels and a butter knife or a spoon. Simply scrape off any solid pieces of polish from your clothes, taking care not to damage the fabric. After that, wash your clothes as you normally would.

The Bottom Line

Finally, thanks to these tips and tricks that show how to get nail polish off clothes, you can continue doing your own manis at home without worrying about nail polish ending up somewhere other than your fingernails. Just choose whichever method you like the most, follow the simple steps, and you are good to go.

Jelena holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature. Although she wanted to be an English teacher, Jelena found herself in creative writing. She loves to travel and wander around unfamiliar places, while in her spare time, she loves watching movies, reading books, playing with her two dogs, and discovering new music.