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How to Remove Nail Polish From Carpet: Cleaning Pros’ Easy Tricks Really Work

If you paint your nails regularly, chances are you’ve had an accident at one point or another — and spilled polish on your clothes or your carpet. So you know what a nightmare getting that stain out can be. Fortunately, there are a few household products that can help you tackle the oops if you don’t have stain remover lying around. Here, the expert tips on how to remove nail polish from a carpet — effortlessly.

How to remove nail polish from carpet

The first thing you should do after a polish spill is to blot the liquid away. Take an absorbent cloth — microfiber works well — and gently dab at the wet polish, switching spots on the cloth frequently and transferring as much of it to the cloth as possible without rubbing or scrubbing and creating a larger stain. Once you’ve got the remaining polish transferred to the cloth, use one of the options below to get rid of the mark.

1. WD-40

can of wd-40 for how to remove nail polish from carpet

WD-40 (Buy on Amazon, $7.98) is a water displacement formula that acts as a lubricant and a solvent — and it’s something most of us have around the house, says Jill Koch, who offers cleaning tips and hacks on social media as Jill Comes Clean. Solvents are products that, well, dissolve things, and the product can be used to dissolve rust, paint, chewing gum and even nail polish. Simply apply WD-40 to the nail polish stain once the excess polish is removed, and blot the stain away with a cloth, being careful not to spread it. “You may have to apply the WD-40 more than once and do a bit of scrubbing with your cloth once the stain is lightened, but it generally works to clean up the polish,” Koch says.

See Koch using WD-40 to get out a nail polish stain:


Shop the stain removers at the llnk in my profile. 4 Best Stain Remover Sprays for carpet and upholstery. ⠀ For ink stains and nailpolish the Amodex and WD-40 are it! Both with so well. ⠀ Just apply then dab and lightly wipe the area. Reapply and repeat as needed until the stain is removed. I like keep both on hand because sometimes the Ampdex works better and sometimes the WD-40 does. ⠀ For the Folex and DIY stain remover, same thing. Spray and wipe clean with a damp cloth. Repeat as needed. ⠀ DIY Stain Remover Recipe: – 16 oz. Bottle of peroxide – 1 tsp dish soap (I find blue dawn works best) – 1 tsp baking soda Combine in an Amber spray bottle or add a clean nozzle to a bottle of peroxide and add soap and baking soda directly in. ⠀ *Note: always test a small unseen area first if you’re worried about how the solution may react with the color of the fabric. ⠀ #cleaningtips #cleaninghacks #stainremoval #stainremover #housecleaning #cleaninghouse #cleaning

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2. Non-acetone nail polish remover

When it comes to nail polish remover to remove nail polish from the carpet there are two schools of thought: acetone based and non acetone based.

Non-acetone remover: Some pros recommend using a non-acetone nail polish remover instead of one with acetone to get out nail polish, as the main ingredient in these polishes — either ethyl acetate or methyl ethyl keytone — is a gentler solvent alternative to acetone. Craig Kersemeier of K-tech Kleening, a certified master textile cleaner who’s been in the carpet cleaning business for 35 years, notes that he uses a non-acetone remover to clean up polish accidents.

He recommends first testing the remover on an inconspicuous area of the carpet, say in a closet, before working on the spill. Once you’re confident the remover won’t damage your rug, wet about a 12-inch area around the spill as a cold water barrier to protect the carpet. Then apply a small amount of remover to a clean rag and blot at the stain until it’s gone. Finally, wash the area with a carpet cleaner.

Don’t have a carpet cleaner? Mix a solution of 1 Tbs. dish soap with two cups warm water, spray, and use a shop vac to extract the nail polish remover and the cleaning solution. “Keep in mind,” Kersemeier notes, “red polish on a white or very light-colored rug may still leave a stain.” He also cautions to use a clear nail polish remover as some have dyes that can stain a carpet further.

See how to remove nail polish using non-acetone polish remover here:

Acetone or acetone-based polish remover: Because acetone is a liquid solvent, it’s used to dissolve other substances and forms the base of some nail polish removers. “Fingernail polish is hard to get out because it’s like a very strong paint, but you can dissolve it,” says Mark Saiger of Saiger’s Steam Clean and Saiger’s Sauce Products, whose family has been cleaning carpets for over 55 years.

Some pros use acetone to get nail polish out of carpet, he says, which you can pick up at a hardware store. But pros also know exactly how much to use and have an extraction machine to remove all traces of the chemical — because acetone can damage rugs, actually leading to the separation of the rug fibers from the backing material. If you don’t have — or don’t want to buy — acetone, an acetone-based nail polish remover can also be used, but even that can damage the carpet, so be very cautious and try on an inconspicuous area first to make sure your rug can handle acetone.

First, wet an area around the stain with cold water, so the acetone won’t spread further than the polish mark. “Apply just a tiny bit of acetone on a small area at a time, and use something soft-edged like a spoon to help agitate without getting too crazy,” says Saiger. Then blot with a microfiber towel until the stain is gone. Finally, use a carpet cleaning machine to wash the area and extract the acetone. “Be very careful, though,” Saiger advises. “With acetone you risk delaminating the carpet, and it can potentially even damage your carpet cleaning machine.”

See Saiger cleaning a polish stain off of carpet here:

3. Hair spray and rubbing alcohol

Hair spray also works to remove nail polish from carpets, say the folks at Coit Cleaning & Restoration. Start by spraying enough hair spray to cover the stain, and then pour a few splashes of alcohol on top. Let sit for a few minutes, and then agitate with a soft scrub brush. Finally, use a soft cloth to blot and lift the stain away, being sure to wash and blot the area dry when you’re done. Repeat if necessary.

How it works: Because alcohol is a solvent, the hair spray and isopropyl alcohol will start to break down the polish. But hair spray also contains adhesive — that’s how it holds your hair in place — and the adhesive in the spray binds to the nail polish particles, making them easier to extract. Try this method first on darker carpets, as even a non-acetone polish remover could lighten a darker carpet.

See this hack in action in the YouTube video below:

4. Hair gel, lighter fluid and dish detergent mix

Just like hair spray, many hair gels also contain alcohol, so the same gel you use to hold your hair in place can be used to clean your carpet, says Kersemeier, who notes that while he doesn’t use this method as a professional, he’s been told by others that hair gel works.

Mix a teaspoon of lighter fluid, a dash of dish detergent and a heaping tablespoon of hair gel in a small bowl. Then apply a liberal amount of the mixture to the surface of the spot, using the application spoon to separate the fibers of the carpet. Let it sit on the stain for about five minutes, then work the stain from the outside in with a spoon, scraping at the polish and then blotting with a white rag. Apply more mixture as needed and keep working at the spot with a spoon to gather the gel and then blotting up the solution. Finally, moisten the area with water and blot again with a white towel. Keep applying the solution and repeating the steps until the stain is gone. Wipe the area with denatured alcohol to remove any residual product.

See a professional carpet cleaner put this ‘magic’ trick to work in the YouTube video below:

5. Scissors

For thick pile carpets and shaggy rugs, your best pair of scissors is an option for getting out the stain, but you’ll need to be careful not to cut a hole in your floor covering. Start by separating out the affected strands of carpet. Then, use your scissors to trim just the very edges of the stained area, being careful not to cut the fibers too short. If the nail polish has solidified, this is a good option for removing it permanently.

For more on carpet-stain removal, click through the links below!

How to Get Paint Out of Carpet — The Genius Shop-Vac Hack That Makes It So Easy

Dog Poop on the Carpet? These Easy Pro Tricks Will Get It Deep-Down Clean Fast

How to Clean Cat Pee From a Carpet + Why Scrubbing Actually Makes the Odor Worse

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